Learn From My Mistake

I’m writing a second memoir that is a collection of essays.

In it I talk about my adventures in life and love in the Big City.

One thing I recommend is not putting all your eggs in one basket as the expression goes. Apt because we are women who get fixated on finding the right guy.

To wit: last fall there was a guy I was interested in. At that time I went to a holiday dinner where another guy chatted me up.

Interested in the first guy I got up at the end of the dinner and said goodbye to Guy Number 2 and walked out.

Fool! It turned out Guy Number 1 had a 7-year relationship with a girlfriend.

Now Guy Number 2 who I’ve become interested in is nowhere in sight.

Online dating isn’t for me. I’ve given up online dating for good.

You know something’s not right when the dating profile says a guy wants to meet “an intelligent woman who loves life and likes to laugh.”

I am that kind of girl. When I meet him he’s not interested. His version of intelligent is reading James Patterson books.

My version of intelligent is getting up on stage to perform at poetry readings.

There’s no guy in sight. (Play the violin strings and I’ll cry on cue.)

Moral of the story:

Play the field until you have an actual boyfriend in your arms.

 

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A Blanquito In El Barrio

In Memory of Gil Fagiani

blanquito

Poet Extraordinaire and Beautiful Human Being

Gil Fagiani wrote one of the two book reviews on the back cover of Left of the Dial.

I had wanted him to write a book review because one of his own poetry books was titled Serfs of Psychiatry.

That book is an autobiographical account of his earliest job in the mental health field.

A Blanquito in El Barrio graphically conjures his descent into street drug abuse.

Gil is one of the people who lived to tell and was able to stay clean for decades.

He treated me come un figlia.

In his name (as was requested) I’m making a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I urge you to read Blanquito and any other of his books that you can find.

He is the third person I have lost in three years. Each of them to life-ending illnesses.

Our lives are like the song lyrics to “Big Yellow Taxi.” You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. All that remains of paradise in that song was a parking lot.

One day all that will be left of this planet is burnt earth.

It’s time. For days now I’ve been thinking of the quote: “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

You and I don’t know how much time we’ll have here. We don’t know how much time we’ll have with our loved ones, friends, and others we’re close to.

Make every day a day when you wake up and choose to love.

There is no other way to live.

One day things could change. Love is a life preserver. Acceptance is a safety net.

Make every encounter with another person a positive one.

Find the good: In life. In other people. In your situation.

Take a cue from Gil Fagiani’s remarkable life:

Fight the good fight. It isn’t over until it’s over. Treat everyone you meet with kindness.

Healing is an Act of Love

My decades-long vision that recovery is possible animates my role as an Advocate.

My goal in life is to advance this vision of Recovery for Everyone. I believe recovery is possible from whatever setback a person has experienced.

Healing is an act of love.

Woundology, as I wrote about in here before, is the refusal to heal because you get a payoff in being ill.

The root of my vision of recovery lies in my belief that healing is possible.

For years I’ve been in recovery from a traumatic attack. I’ve also recently been in recovery (as an older woman) from the self-scrutiny of how I look without any foundation covering my face : )

This is to say that a person can be in recovery from different kinds of setbacks.

Advocating for recovery goes hand in hand with advocating for universal love as the twin engines that drive my life’s purpose.

It was an act of love that drove my mother to drive me to the hospital to get help not once but twice when I was younger.

Seeking help is an act of love for yourself or your loved one. Yet too often the door to recovery is slammed shut before you get to open it. Treatment is often denied just when a person needs it.

A lot of people are unable to recover because they don’t get the right help right away when they first experience mental or emotional distress.

It can sound radical to do so yet I frame stigma not only as discrimination I view it as hate. Is the absence of compassion for people with SZ and other mental health issues tantamount to being a form of hate?

You decide. I think it is. Society needs to heal from the disease of stigma.

The hate a person gives out only serves to damage the hater more than their target.

My vision of Recovery for Everyone has been attacked. A woman billed as an “international expert” (who curiously didn’t have her own website) attacked me twice for claiming that most people can recover.

No surprise she had claimed that no one can recover from SZ. How can any so-called expert claim that most people aren’t in treatment who need it?

We have no statistics to prove that people aren’t recovering. This is because there’s no way of counting the number of people who aren’t in treatment who need to be.

This is also to say that diagnosing a person from afar just because you think they have a mental illness isn’t the way to go either.

My decades-long vision of Recovery for Everyone is predicated on empirical evidence: the real mental health peers I’ve met and talked with who are doing just fine.

Nobody in power seems to see fit to count successful peers in their statistics of who’s actually doing well and who isn’t.

Am I the only one to state this truth in a logical way? Because the arguments claiming that no one can recover sure aren’t rational or based in reality.

My life’s purpose and work extends to more than just mental health. This should be apparent to loyal blog readers who have followed my talk for years about healing the planet too.

I’ll say it again: healing is an act of love. Getting treatment for yourself or a loved one is an act of love. Choosing to love yourself and others is a form of healing.

I believe that universal love must reign over the ongoing hate in the world.

Won’t you join me in championing Recovery for Everyone?

Won’t you join me in advancing universal love as a form of healing?

 

Be Brave and Be Yourself

At the end of April I turn 53. I’m devoting a blog entry to a hot topic that no one else has ever talked about before. What I write is for peers to read first of all. If outsiders chance to read it I hope you will be moved to understand and have compassion for us.

It’s a reflection on how a friend is in awe of a woman with a formal serious office job. Yes I understand how she could covet another person’s life: that’s exactly what fueled my desire to have an insurance broker career: when my first boss developed a career plan for me.

I told my friend we should start a “F*ck You!” Club and dare to not conform to other people’s expectations. Who are either of us kidding thinking we would be happier being (or could even be) another person?

This I’m confident is the age-old dilemma of anyone with an MH diagnosis–going in the opposite direction to prove you’re normal–only to return to where you started as your original self.

I’m living proof that it all comes down to finding the job and workplace where you belong. I didn’t belong in insurance office jobs wearing “power-blue straitjackets” as I described that attire in my memoir.

The more I tried to prove I was normal, the more it backfired.

So it becomes imperative to find the place where you belong. That’s going to be a different environment for each of us. A good friend of mine rose up to be the CEO of corporations. He wore thousand-dollar suits and all that. More power to him for rising up. This is possible for some of us and not possible for others.

Either way it’s precisely when you turn 53 that it’s time to tell others: “F*ck You! I’m not buying what you’re selling about my worth. I’m NOT less than zero. I’m 24-Karat gold. Mess with me at your own peril.”

Or as a woman told me once: “You’re a diamond, not a rhinestone. Remember that.”

I’ll end here by telling readers:

Be brave and be yourself. There’s no other way to live.

Shine on.

The grass isn’t greener over there.

Spring Cleaning Outside of the Closet

The spring is the perfect time to start over.

Outside of the closet sometimes you have to cull your beliefs or your relationships as well as your clothes.

It’s not easy to let go of a friend or lover yet at times you must to reclaim your sanity.

It’s possible this person’s trash talk towards you has depleted you of energy.

I call such people “energy vampires” because they steal any good feeling you have about yourself.

Each of us deserves better. We deserve to be treated with kindness and empathy.

You can feel like you’re all alone after a breakup. Yet remember: their negativity is no longer seeping into you.

It comes down to what you’re comfortable with.

It might surprise readers yet a couple of years ago I decided to fade away from a person who made an objectionable racist comment out loud when we were in public together.

I felt it wasn’t right what they said. I won’t repeat the comment and this is because I don’t want to set off readers.

We need to lift each other up not bring each other down.

Our friends shouldn’t verbally attack us. They shouldn’t attack other people.

As hard as it can be to let go I’ll end here with this:

You can meet a new friend or lover in due season.

I’ll be 53 in April–I’ve been around this block for too long. The older I’ve gotten the less inclined I am to mollycoddle haters.

In coming blog entries I’ll talk about”The Change”–the M Word–menopause.

Living through “The Change” can be challenging yet it can bring on renewed happiness and a sense of new purpose.

I want to talk about “The Change” because no one else is doing this for mental health peers.

Honoring Martin Luther King’s Legacy

Ever since I was younger I have always had an affinity with Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message even though I was only 3 when he was killed.

It might be that as a person diagnosed with SZ I understand the plight of other people.

Racism got started by looking at a person’s skin color and stereotyping them.

I think about this now because of how people with SZ are stereotyped.

The fact is at 22 I had a minor breakdown. At 27 I had a relapse after a 3-month drug holiday failed.

I identify as a person with SZ because of having had these two experiences in my life.

A woman in the comments section below a news article I was quoted in wrote that I must be the exception.

To what or whom am I the exception when I’m only being myself?

If a person can’t do what I’ve done or what you’re able to do that’s not the point. Corralling everyone with SZ into the same homogeneous stereotype of what we’re capable of or how we act does a disservice to peers and others alike.

Frankly it upsets meĀ  that so-called normal people often don’t have the decency and compassion to really SEE Who We Are–Who Each of Us Is–apart from the SZ.

To deny that people diagnosed with SZ are as unique as our thumbprints is to in effect render us invisible even though we’re standing right in front of other people.

Again it also upsets me that so-called normal people parrot that NO ONE can recover. Why aren’t they taking action to help us recover?

This is at the heart of what drove me to publish my memoir Left of the Dial: every other SZ memoir focused on chronic illness, symptoms, and long-term hell.

The pathology in the memoirs overshadowed the personality of the individuals.

Yes–I wanted to entertain readers not make them depressed.

The whole of success in life lies in SEEING who a person really is on the inside.

If you’re interacting with people and making judgments about them before you get to know them you’re contributing to stigma.

Stigma is a form of mind pollution that has infected human relationships for too long in society.

It’s 2018. MLK must be crying in his grave over how people still treat each other.

Let’s honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by reaching out and getting to know other people.

Let’s SEE.

The Secret to Aging Well

Sometimes a fresh swipe of lipstick can swizzle your mood.

If I can look in the mirror without judgment I’m going to have a better day.

The key is to have the self-confidence to stand tall and shout:

“This is who I am, take me or leave.”

We don’t need critical people in our lives. We don’t need to have other people judge us.

Tony Robbins is quoted to the effect:

“If you judge another person you lose the power to influence them.”

If you judge yourself you give others permission to not like you either.

As a 52-year old woman I strive to be gracious towards others. I act as best I can without judging anyone else for I can’t see inside their heads.

Mid life is the best time to meet new people, do new things, and adopt new beliefs about what’s possible.

To do this we have to let go of the past and re-frame our perception of who we are and who we can become.

Self-neglect is the foolproof way to age yourself faster than the expiration date on a carton of milk.

Liking yourself is the key to changing your life for the better.

I think the key to success at 40 and beyond is to have a restlessness; a desire to “see the world” with a fresh outlook.

Success at mid life involves not getting stuck. It requires weekly exercise of the body and mind and spirit.

The way I see it: to always be moving forward is the goal.

To not remain stuck we must move our bodies and move our minds out of their comfort zones.

That is the secret to aging well.

Making room for others in our hearts and making peace with our imperfections.

This is all part of remaining youthful regardless of our chronological age.