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 as  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.

A Sense of Place

I’m giving a talk on employment on Saturday, November 12 from 5:40 to 6:40 p.m. at the 2016 NAMI-New York State Educational Conference.

In employment as in housing environment makes all the difference. Finding the job you love is imperative. Finding a home to call your own is imperative too.

I’ll talk here about a sense of place. Living in a city or town you love makes all the difference. I’ve lived on Staten Island. I’ve lived in Brooklyn: boroughs of New York City.

I’m not a fan of moving into neighborhoods and gentrifying them. I’m proud that I wasn’t ever guilty of gentrifying a neighborhood.

Where you live and where you work can sustain you emotionally not just physically or financially. Making money by making art–what’s not to love if you’re a quirky or creative person?

Staten Island was all white all the time when I lived there years ago. It’s where a cop killed Eric Garner in a choke hold.

Sometimes where you start out in life is not where you have to remain. A lot of times you have to leave that place to have a better life.

Everyone needs to live and work in a place where they feel they belong.

I’ll be talking at the educational conference about how I coach peers and others in writing resumes and finding a suitable career.

The info about the conference will be posted on my website on the author appearance page so you can click on that link for more details.

A Sense of Place

Round here if you’re a single person and live in supportive housing you’ll most likely be forced to live with a roommate or in a studio as opposed to a one-bedroom.

I make the case for finding what’s called a “free market apartment” or if you’re lucky to have it a rent-stabilized apartment like is offered here in New York City.

Too I make the case for living on your own if you can afford to instead of with a roommate.

I lived on Staten Island for about two years on my own when I was first starting out in recovery.

Like I wrote here before I recommend  living where it’s economically advantageous not where it’s the latest trend to follow.

I’m proud that by moving to the neighborhoods I did I was NOT part of the ongoing gentrification that has become rampant in cities across America.

Staten Island had its good points. Prime among them was that the rent was cheap.

The drawback was having to take the clunky Staten Island Ferry into and home from the city. The yellow boats were slow and old and got into a number of accidents.

Like a lot of the left of the dial ethic I do think doing your own thing is imperative this way and any other way.

If a person feels like they don’t fit in it’s all the more valid in terms of a life design to do your own thing.

Having a sense of place in the world–first of all with your own livable apartment–can make the difference in recovery.

I will talk about housing more in future blog entries here.

Elegy for 1991

I want to illustrate themes from Left of the Dial using scenes that are like bootlegs that didn’t make the final cut in the memoir.

_________________________

I was 25 years old. Everywhere I went I’d wear mini skirts and skimpy tee shirts.

A friend lived in the Bronx. I’d take the 2 train there. We went to her friend’s apartment.

The white kids were listening to NWA. I remember lyrics to the effect of “bitch-slap the ho.” I didn’t protest at the time because I was entranced with the scene.

Nirvana came on the stereo. I danced like there was no tomorrow. My friend wanted to exit. I loved to dance so wanted to stay.

We parked ourselves in an all-night diner. I had scrambled eggs. It was midnight.

I headed home on the 2 train no stranger to traveling long distances in the early morning. I lived in a studio by the beach on Staten Island–my first apartment.

I’d hung a framed photo on the wall of a little girl with an Italian horn necklace, mirrored sunglasses, and an upturned nose. She exuded confidence for a girl so young.

The friend and the framed print are long gone. NWA has been inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.

I realize there’s no sense in pining for that lost time. Yet it reminds me that even in the midst of pain there are pockets of joy.

I tell those of you reading this blog now:

Open those pockets. Find the joy.

Joy is always to be found.

 

Staten Island / Aubade

City living is now stratospheric.

In the 1980s, it might have been possible to live in Manhattan. Yet you have to do what’s right for you not to follow a trend. The goal is to not go into debt.

I have no regard for the Williamsburg hipster life, now out of reach for most young people. I’m also not a flannel-wearing, chai-tea imbibing gal.

Staten Island was the place to be if you couldn’t afford to live in the city. The rent was low. You could take the ferry into Manhattan and come home at 3 a.m. on the tiny Alice Austen boat. A woman with silver hair read my fortune on that ferry once.

This blog entry is a paean to doing your own thing even if it’s not deemed cool or hip to live or be or act that way. I lived on Staten Island at a time when everyone else coveted living in the city. A secret cachet exists when you do your own thing like this.

You have to trust your instinct or intuition about what makes sense to do.

I spent Saturday nights at Millard Fillmore’s: a restaurant where you could order the Blooming Onion. I and another woman had fallen in with a band of outsiders led by a guy who was a dead-ringer for Michael Stipe.

Why be forced to take in a roommate to pay the rent in a ruinous apartment? Do you want to be stiffed with a $200/telephone bill when the roommate fails to pay up? Do you want to run out of toilet paper or milk because the roommate doesn’t buy anything when it’s their turn?

Gaggled-up living isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

This blog entry is my humble abode to a time and place that is not ever to be again.

I urge everyone reading this blog to consider your options. Going into debt isn’t cool. It isn’t necessary to go into debt to live on your own.

Consider the road less traveled.