25 Years in Remission

This week I celebrate having been in remission from SZ for 25 years–out of the hospital and having had ZERO symptoms for 25 years.

In 1987 when I got out of the hospital the first time I went shopping at the local Macy’s in the Mall. There’s a grain of truth to the expression: “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.”

What I bought: a black suede zebra-print embossed pocketbook; a light gray sweatshirt with black tipping on the bottom, neckline, and sleeves; and an interesting sterling silver necklace that I’ve kept all these years.

Most of what I bought is gone yet won’t ever be forgotten, just like I remember nearly every significant item of clothing I bought and wore in the late 1980s and 1990s.

I think striving to be in remission is a noble goal to achieve. It certainly makes things easier when you’re not burdened with permanent symptoms the rest of your life.

Yet I will always stress this above all else: you can hold a job and be successful in life even though you might still have symptoms.

I know people who have jobs and still hear voices occasionally.

In my life I’m grateful to be in remission, a status I don’t take lightly.

I got here because I take a dose of medication, yet as a professional told me: “You recovered more so because of the actions you took.”

Which proves the premise of the Rachel Roy book I reviewed in the last blog entry.

Ten years ago when I first started blogging I wrote too:

“It’s not the enormity or severity of your challenge that determines your fate, but how you respond to it.”

So back then I had stated in my own words what Rachel Roy also told readers: the choice is yours how you want to live your life.

I chose in 2002 to become a mental health advocate.

Years later I consider myself simply to be an Activist because I’ve branched out into a focus on fitness, which encompasses fitness of mind, body, spirit, careers, finances, and relationships.

As well asĀ  helping keep our planet fit and free from environmental destruction.

My goal is to be the change I want to see in the world.

To that end I’ve been focused on getting a second non-fiction book edited that I hope to publish within three years.

I hold this above all else to be true and will go to my grave championing this:

That getting the right treatment right away can enable you to have a better life.

It might include taking medication or it might not.

Yet when you’re in emotional pain, when you’re suffering from mental distress, you really shouldn’t wait it out and allow your hardship to progress so that it becomes a permanent disability.

If any of my readers fit this scenario, I urge you to get professional help right now.

Yes–I’ve been in remission for 25 years.

I hope to live at least 25 years more to continue to uplift and inspire everyone I meet.

My message is clear and simple:

Now more than ever it’s possible to have a full and robust life living in recovery–with or without symptoms.

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Design Your Life

desing your life

I’ve been vindicated yet again in my focus on fashion.

I’m going to tell you about a truly inspirational book that Rachel Roy–a premier fashion designer–wrote titled Design Your Life.

How much do I love this book? Let me quote the ways by quoting Rachel Roy. My intent is to get you to buy this book and use it as a reference guide.

You think focusing on how you dress is foolish, frivolous, or unnecessary?

Here goes Roy at the start of the book:

“There is so much we wish to accomplish, so much we place on ourselves to achieve, and what I know to be true is that every circumstance, every situation that has been put in front of us, is there to teach us something about the person we are meant to become. What I also know to be true is that we are in control of how we respond to each situation, therefore we create our life based on our choices.”

Roy ends the book with this ammunition:

“Despite the dated principles and more we may have been taught to internalize, we do not have to be everything to everyone, and we do not have to sacrifice who we are in order to make others happy. We just have to be exceptional at pursuing our passions and be 100 percent authentic to ourselves in every aspect of our lives–take the risk of actually being you.”

I rest my case now and forever. Design Your Life: Creating Success Through Personal Style is a delight to read–at least it was for me.

In the next blog entry I hope to post here on Tuesday morning I will write about having been in remission for 25 years now.

Absolutely true story:

The first thing I did when I got out of the hospital in 1987 was go shopping at the local Macy’s.

Stay tuned on Tuesday when I open the long-ago closet doors to reveal what I bought. One item I still own 30 years later.

Self-Acceptance

Years ago a Nike print ad featured athletes with the tag line “Make Yourself.”

In the end, that’s what a person does in recovery: you have the chance to make yourself into who you want to be.

You don’t have to get a J.D. or M.D. You don’t have to do what I do.

You just have to be the kind of person that it gives you joy to be (regardless of the number on the bathroom scale).

Surprise–I think about the beauty and benefit of “self-acceptance” as a mantra in recovery.

If you’re not happy being you, ask yourself why exactly you’d rather be someone else. Change what you can of what you don’t like, and live with and forget the things you can’t change.

I’m 52–next week I will write about my 25th anniversary of being in remission.

Here now I want to write about self-acceptance because it’s the secret to feeling good about yourself. It could help to define what makes you a true original.

I would say my personality is “creative-kinetic.” Like the athletes in the Nike ad, I understand that there’s a power in creating yourself.

What I’m possessed with right now is a Deborah Harry quote. In a magazine, she said that all artists go “inching and crawling” towards their situation.

That sums up recovery: it too often involves going “inching and crawling” toward each goal; each milestone; each victory.

I will write more about recovery in here in my own inimitable way in the coming weeks–because it needs to be said what I have to say.

I’ll end here with this prelude: if you’re an artist, you cannot ever not do your art.

If you’re in recovery, you have to be true to yourself.

A good first step to embracing who you are is to remember that a mental health diagnosis is simply a tool for getting the treatment you need. It’s not who you are.

I call using your diagnosis to define yourself–I call this an “identity straitjacket.”

The beauty of living in recovery is that you get to decide how you want to describe yourself. That’s how I hit on my own two-word statement.

Try out your own self-definition. Meet me here next week when I talk about how I’ve been in remission for 25 years.

Living with SZ in England

I love the Brits. I’ve been to London on holiday over a decade ago. I want to link here to a woman’s story about living with SZ in England.

Circa five years ago the Guardian published a news article that claimed only 8 percent of those diagnosed with SZ in the UK were employed.

A longitudinal study by Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation had as participants peers who had been employed long–term and had a mental health diagnosis.

I was a participant in this American study. Ninety-three percent of the participants were taking medication at the start of the study.

From my firsthand experience I don’t think it’s a coincidence that taking medication allowed the study participants to achieve sustained employment.

The unabashed Brit who talks about her life with SZ also takes meds. She has a sense of humor.

I chuckled at her use of the term “tummy-tamer” to describe the kind of panties you need to wear when medication causes you to gain weight.

All hail Erica Camus the author of this list.

Drum roll please you can read the Top Ten Things She Can’t Live Without.

 

Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore

authors clothes

Now you see my focus on fashion and music wasn’t so far-fetched in my memoir Left of the Dial.

A book has indeed been written about authors and clothes. I’m now not the only one linking our sartorial bent to our creative success.

That is Joan Didion on the cover. She is the author of The Year of Magical Thinking, a best-selling memoir.

The ultimate truth about fashion and aptly individual style has been corroborated on the Visual Therapy website.

Co-founder Joe Lupo wrote there:

“We stand by the idea that style isn’t just about the clothes–it’s about the people in them. Using style and clothing to express the most authentic superstar version of yourself will give you the confidence you need to reach for your dreams and goals.”

Co-founder Jesse Garza reinforced:

“We always say that when image (the outer) and identity (the inner) are aligned, the result is clarity that will bring you places and help you reach your goals in all spheres of life.”

From firsthand experience I’ve seen that when you’re at odds with your clothing, it could be because you’re at odds with yourself.

Hiding behind your clothes is a way to hide you from yourself.

Finding the items that fit and flatter is like coming home to yourself.

Research non-traditional careers if you’re loathe to wear a suit and pumps to work.

I’m revising and editing my second non-fiction book.

I will return here in the coming weekend if I’m able.

The Magnolia Story

Read it now: The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino.

I’m able to watch HGTV’s Fixer Upper house decorating and remodeling show. It features the husband Chip and wife Joanna who have four kids.

The show was an instant sensation. The book is a revelation.

The Magnolia Story is more uplifting and inspiring than any book I’ve read recently.

I recommend buying the book and keeping it on hand to read and savor.

Joanna’s wisdom is the prime selling point for buying the book:

“It was such a blessing to find myself thriving in the middle of the pain. Unless you find a way to do that, there’s always going to be this fake illusion that once you get there–wherever ‘there’ is for you–you’ll be happy. But that’s just not life.

If you can’t find happiness in the ugliness, you’re not going to find it in the beauty, either.”

I’m buying a copy to give as a gift.

More than this, the underlying theme of perpetual miracles given to Chip and Joanna Gaines can seem impossible for others to obtain.

The duo kept having an endless spate of triumph just when the hard times threatened to do them in. It’s best to overlook that they were luckier than a lot of people have been. Their financial struggles came through loud and clear in the book. It proves that they were not privileged; they were just fortunate to have benefactors who believed in them.

Finding your own benefactors could be the sole topic of a book of its own.

I say: use this book to your advantage in crafting your own “magnolia story” for yourself and your loved ones.

Be joyous when others succeed. Be proud when you succeed. Get support from others and give support to others in times of need.

Power your own flowering story’s book with love and compassion.

That’s the true message of The Magnolia Story: kindness can be a raft carrying us over to a better place.