Everyone Hurts

We shouldn’t forget that ordinary nameless individuals–people walking on the street or waiting in line at the supermarket– are facing pain and living in agony just like Kate Spade was.

Unlike NAMI New York State I’m not going to criticize people who are shocked and in mourning because a famous person committed suicide.

Strip away Kate Spade’s status, take her name off pocketbooks, and she’s a person who despaired of finding relief just like a lot of us despair.

The truth is that external success doesn’t always inoculate a person from hardship or from being in pain or thinking they’re suffering alone in what they go through.

Too many people obtain external markers of success–the house, the car, whatever–and yet still feel empty inside.

I wrote about this in one of the blogs when I quoted Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper TV show fame: if you’re not happy now wherever you are in life today how can you be confident you’ll be happy in the future as long as a certain condition is met?

Happiness shouldn’t be linked to “having all your ducks in a row” or be predicated on achieving some kind of goal.

Waiting for the perfect condition in life to happen before you’ll be happy–or before thinking you’ve been a success–is a mistake.

The takeaway from Kate Spade’s death is that even great success isn’t enough to give a person joy.

For mental health peers it should come as a relief the idea that we can be happy even if our lives are ordinary and unremarkable.

We don’t have to win a Nobel Prize or otherwise become a “household name” like Kate Spade to be happy and feel worthy.

What I want to tell readers:

You are a success regardless of the number on the scale, the figure in your bank account, your status in society or anything else traditionally used to measure a person.

You are a success because you are your Self.

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No Judgments At This Blog

This is what I think about something that happened in response to Kate Spade’s death.

NAMI New York State violated one of its own peer support guidelines: “We judge no one else’s pain as any less than our own.”

In an electronic newsletter NAMI New York State dared write:

“The heartbreak that many of Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain’s legions of admirers are experiencing is a fraction of the emotions felt when losing a friend or a loved one.”

The audacity! NAMI New York State feels its members are more deserving than others to feel grief about a loss. NAMI New York State dares assume that other people’s pain is less than yours or mine.

This stance will only alienate people who might have sought help.

I for one have been devastated by Kate Spade’s death at her own hands. As a person with ambition who is driven to excel I acutely understand that the fashion designer might have struggled even though she was at the top of her game.

After the death-from-illness of my mentor I have been thinking often about this dichotomy exactly: Why do some people when faced with hardship keep moving along and think things can get better? While others think things are hopeless and see no way out of their pain?

Is it partly a question of being given hope when you’re at the end of your rope? Is it mostly a question of feeling rapport with your treatment providers who can give you this hope? What is the solution to despair?

In New York City The Rita Project offers hope and healing for survivors of suicide attempts via art therapy endeavors. It seems they don’t have a website (or at least I haven’t found it via the cursory Google search hits).

I offer a disclaimer header in the menu bar at the top of the blogs. What I’m really trying to do here is to offer a haven in prose where people can be uplifted and inspired.

When people are hurting the last thing they need is to have a mental health organization discount the pain they’re in.

For the record, I was distraught when a guy I had known took his own life.

I’ve thought of a way to honor friends and loved ones who have committed suicide. I want to run this by an attorney to see about the viability of doing this. It might not be possible.

Yet hey–if you’re experiencing a hardship you deserve compassion.

Dancing in the Rain

Fashion ultimately can’t cure an actual disease–if it could Kate Spade would still be alive.

When life isn’t going your way, when a setback happens or it takes longer to get what you want: I say do what makes you happy so that you can feel good.

The solution to experiencing a setback might just be to shift your focus and do something else. Or to change the method you employ for achieving your original goal.

It’s ironic–and sad more than anything–that Kate Spade could design pocketbooks that put a spring in women’s steps when we carried them. Yet she didn’t feel the same joy in her own life.

Was she 55?

I’m a 53-year old woman who hasn’t gotten what she wanted: a boyfriend and a book contract.

The quote gets it right about learning how to dance in the rain instead of simply waiting for the storm to pass.

I recommend that all readers–men as well as women–do what gives you joy.

Readers: dressing in style has been my way to dance in the rain.

This is what I’m saying: that at 53, at even just 22, at whatever age you are:

I submit the goal is to feel good about yourself and your life.

For one person, singing in a choir might make their heart beat. For another, running a 5K marathon might keep them smiling.

The pursuit of happiness is not a frivolous endeavor.

I regret there’s a backlash against the positive psychology movement that Martin Seligman started years ago.

If you ask me it’s imperative that we find out what makes us happy and go do that.

The beauty is that the older you get you can discover new gifts and passions that will bring you joy.

It’s not ever too late to make a change for the better.

The rain can end at some point. For some of us it might continue. That’s when having a fallback option makes sense.

Years ago I went back to school to get a Masters degree. That was my Plan B.

Choosing an alternative path to go down isn’t settling for less. It’s being realistic when it turns out the umbrella you were holding up has broken.

There is always going to be rain. While most of us prefer the sun the rain might serve a purpose too.

Learning how to dance in the rain sure beats being afraid of the thunder.

Kate Spade – An American Tragedy

I’m going to cut-and-paste here in this blog the entry I posted just five minutes ago in the Left of the Dial forum.

Today Kate Spade–the designer of iconic handbags–took her own life.

She had everything going for her in terms of external success.

It’s a tragedy that inside at her core she wasn’t doing very well.

A year or two ago in this Flourish blog I wrote about the phenomenon of “smiling depression.”

Women are suffering all alone because no one takes them seriously.

“How could you be depressed when you have a great life?”

“Just pray and go to church and you’ll be fine.”

“Get married and have babies and raise a family.”

That last sentence contains actual words a young woman was told years ago.

The other two sentences are oft-repeated ill advice that women are given too.

I remember vividly when I was going on a job interview in the 1990s.

I rode the elevator up to the office with another woman. She held a Kate Spade tote against her shoulder. I coveted that Kate Spade pocketbook.

It wasn’t until this spring that I dared splurge to buy myself a Kate Spade pocketbook.

I bought it at a reduced yet not cheap cost at an off-price discount retailer in New York City.

Kate and her husband sold their company years ago. Yet American women have coveted the Kate Spade handbags since their first creation.

Disability is no joke.

Mental health issues strike everyone from all walks of life.

It’s a tragedy that Kate Spade and hundreds possibly thousands of nameless faceless individuals feel the only way out of their pain is to end their life.

What if Kate Spade could’ve gotten treatment? What if she had bipolar or another mental health issue that wasn’t diagnosed?

A part of Kate Spade lives on in the pocketbook I bought this spring.

Yet that’s no consolation for the fact that another human being’s life ended in tragedy not recovery.

God bless you Kate Spade. God bless everyone living with a mental health issue who suffers. You are not alone.

The Suicide Prevention Helpline can be reached at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

You can use the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Please. The pain you are in can be healed. People care about you. Help is available.

There is a way out of the pain that will enable you to live a better life.

There’s no shame. What you feel is real and true. What you feel can be healed

The Truth About Disability

I’ve long not been proud to have a diagnosis.

What happened to me in my twenties is what it is and that’s it.

I had a breakdown followed by a relapse close to five years later.

Yes–I want to laugh when a person who hasn’t met me lumps me into a category of people they tell to “check your privilege.”

The only privilege I had in life was to be diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 22 years old.

I didn’t graduate from Harvard. I haven’t won a Nobel Peace prize like Toni Morrison did. I didn’t do anything exceptional.

What I did when I was 23 and shunted into a mental health system:

I dared to assert my right to have a full and robust life.

I’m 53 now and have been a mental health Advocate for over 15 years so far.

I believe in my vision of Recovery for Everyone, from whatever it is a person is in recovery from.

The goal I had for myself in 1987 was to make a full recovery.

My goal I have today is to help others heal, recover, and have their own version of a full and robust life.

Everyone should be given the right treatment right away. Everyone should be given this treatment so that they have an equal chance to recover fully or significantly improve.

Getting denied treatment is the root of the progression of disability for too many people whose lives are lost to chronic illness.

Getting the right treatment right away can stop a person from becoming permanently disabled.

The truth about disability is that it’s not ever fun or useful or life-improving for those of us so unfortunate to have a chronic medical condition.

Those of us living in this never-ending hell aren’t happy to have a disability.

This is why I’m going to give a thumbs down to Kanye West.

Today he has stated that he has bipolar and “it’s awesome” to have bipolar.

Kanye has told the world that bipolar “isn’t a disability.”

Funny when you’re a famous multi-million-dollar singer you can check yourself into a mental hospital for “exhaustion.”

Kanye and Wooten and their ilk claim that symptoms like mania are actually personality traits that enable them to do great things.

Really? Most people with bipolar are in unremitting pain because of their yo-yo symptoms that have only disabled them.

No. I won’t ever be proud to have a disability.

No. I’d rather not take medication. Only I have to in order to do great things.

Kanye should be concerned about his children.

With one parent with bipolar the odds are something like 15 to 35 percent that your kid will develop bipolar.

No kidding. What part of having a disability is so great?

 

Breakfast Recipes

You can’t go right with boxed cereal.

Most cereal has too much sugar and natural flavors which are really fake chemicals. The government allows companies to hide the chemical names of ingredients by using the term natural flavor or natural flavors on the food label on the product.

Remember: Natural flavors are fake chemicals. They’re no friend to your waistline or your health. It’s simple and quick to make healthful breakfast choices that don’t include chemical-laden frosted flakes or healthy-in-name-only cereals.

Remember: any product name that makes an emotional appeal to you as being healthy for you most likely has these chemicals and other not-good ingredients lurking in their contents.

Trust me: I’ve read an article in a women’s magazine that purported to give you quick-and-easy breakfast recipes. Only those recipes didn’t seem quick and easy to me when I read them.

Here’s the deal: eggs in moderation are OK. Avocados have heart-healthy fats. Allegedly people who eat a lot of avocados are skinnier if this is something that might interest you as some kind of fact. This seems far-fetched to me.

I’m going to give you here two recipes I found in reputable books.

Misty Copeland in her book Ballerina Body has a rolled oats snack recipe. I haven’t created this yet I’ve bought rolled oats to make for breakfast.

Instant oatmeal isn’t a healthful choice. It takes mere minutes to boil the water and seconds to swirl the water in the oatmeal. Yet it isn’t the greatest health option.

20-Minute Rolled Oats Breakfast Recipe:

Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats

Maple Syrup

Nuts or seeds like slivered almonds and pumpkin seeds

Boil 2 cups water.

Add 1  cup rolled oats.

Lower the flame.

Heat 10 to 20 minutes linked to your desired consistency (a little mushy or firmer).

Stir the oats as they’re being heated up.

Shut heat. Mix in maple syrup, nuts, seeds, cranberries, or diced dried apricots.

(I use Coombs organic dark amber maple syrup.)

The point is taking the time to have a good breakfast is worth the 20 minutes it will take.

Egg Muffins

Scramble four eggs in a bowl.

Stir in diced or slivered red pepper, onions, mushroom, broccoli, and fresh cheese.

I used red pepper and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Pour into muffin pan slots.

Cook for 10 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

The tops will rise above the rim of the pan slots.

I heated my eggs for 15 minutes.

Understand:

Grating your own parmesan cheese wedge is preferably to buying any parmesan cheese in a plastic container or in a cardboard bottle. Those kinds of cheese have unnatural preservatives that people really don’t need to be ingesting.

Fresh Direct online food delivery service in New York City will grate for you for about sixty cents extra the fresh wedge of parmesan that you buy.

Voila:

Easy to cook breakfast recipes that are better than any boxed cereal and healthier I guarantee you.

Bon Apetit!

Say Yes to Compassion

The older I get I’m getting bolder.

I’ve learned that dwelling on what’s not right in the world–the hate and violence people have towards each other–is simply only a foolproof way to make yourself ill.

The person who is filled with hate only serves to make themselves ill. The object of their hate most likely could care less if the hater becomes ill.

Wait just a minute: there’s a better way to live and act and be: kind compassionate with joy and love in your heart.

Harboring hate well into your older years isn’t healthy.

Interact with loving people and you’ll see a difference in your own health.

This blog and my other blog are stigma-free zones.

It’s coming up on summer.

Summer is my favorite time of year for enjoying optimal health.

Meet me in the next blog entry for some quick and simple recipes to cook.

They’re healthful and easy to prepare.

Ciao.