The Triangle of Mental Health: Appropriate Medication

One of the three parts of what I call the Triangle of Mental Health is appropriate medication.

Not everyone requires medication yet for those who do I advocate getting appropriate medication given out by a reputable professional.

A study indicates that those who take medication live longer because they’re mentally healthy so that they can navigate keeping medical appointments and attending to their health overall.

My stance has always been that people who require medication shouldn’t be attacked. No one should be critical of any of us peers for the choices we make in recovery.

Research also indicates that giving patients high doses of medication isn’t good.

The earlier a person is treated it’s more likely they can take a lower dose.

Yes: I’m against the historically sanctioned practice of giving patients high doses of medication and no individualized treatment and no practical career counseling.

Those are the other two parts of the Triangle of Mental Health and I’ll talk about them next: quicker individualized treatment and practical career counseling.


The Triangle of Mental Health: Individualized Treatment

I had to quit seeing an M.D. who just wanted to switch me to an atypical that could cause monster weight gain. He told me: “Everyone’s doing it.”

That sounded like a brand new dance the locomotion in the 1970s with the lyrics that “everybody’s doing it.” And I dance like a washing machine with kooky rhythm.

What I’m against:

Cookie-cutter treatment.

Warehousing people with MH conditions in adult homes that are poorly supervised. High doses of medication.

What I’m FOR:

Getting the right help right away. Using the Asset Model to treat a person.

Family support. Social skills training. Cognitive remediation. Goal-focused and time-sensitive treatment in a mental health system.

I was sent to clerical school in 1989 because there was no practical career counseling offered to me. Though I’m glad I was able to find my first job as an administrative assistant it led to tumbling down a hole into a career that was ill-fitting.

I say: do what you have to do right now if that’s what you have to do.

Yet if this thing turns out not to enchant you or sustain you yes you can do something different next.

I’ll end here by saying what I’ve said before:

We have the right to speak our minds as well as medicate them.



Recovery and Pride

I know plenty of security guards who have college degrees. I met a janitor who loved his work and had a big grin on his face when he told me he was a “custodial engineer.”

No kidding. Any honest job labored at with pride can give a person dignity.

You will not always like every aspect of your job every day. Yet finding a job where most of what you do is okay is possible if you ask me.

I’ve worked in offices and libraries and a law firm. I’ve been employed for over 25 years.

Starting in the fall I’d like to return to talking about employment.

First here I will take about each aspect of The Triangle of Mental Health: appropriate medication, quicker individualized treatment, and practical career counseling.

Having an MH Challenge

I’ve created a term and it’s possible I’m the first person to use it. My aim is to have the term take over in dialogue about what has historically been called mental illness.

I want to use this new term first of all because a lot of people without a clinical diagnosis have ill thinking or are in mental distress or emotional pain.

We need to expand the market in this way to capture all human beings who can benefit from the beauty of an ethic like Left of the Dial or from simply more human treatment.

This is a radical idea: having compassion for EVERYONE. What if compassion were as entrenched in a person’s mind as racism has been over the years?

Starting today I propose we use the term MH challenge instead of mental illness.

Though I can’t take the original credit for this. I have a great friend and we go everywhere together: to concerts, to poetry readings, to coffee shops. Whenever I’m with him and he’s taking about these kinds of things he says “An MH friend of mine” or “Our MH is there in a residual way.”

I love my friend and all that so I think it’s brilliant that he used the term MH.

Most of all this is because focusing on illness was always anathema to me. When told I would be sent to the International Center for the Disabled in 1990 for training I bristled because I didn’t think I was disabled.

MH is an elegant, kinder, and truer term because it instills hope.

It might sound like whitewashing the truth that today a significant number of people still go untreated or have a severe form of a mental illness. Yet can’t we approach their lives with a dignified way of using language too?

In 2017 I’ll celebrate having been a mental health activist for 15 years. That’s a long time. Too long to continue to focus on illness, to dwell in the past, to fight about whether or not a person should take medication.

My pioneering use of the term MH challenge is destined to be a game changer.

Using the term MH challenge is what the world and everyone living in recovery needs now: hope for healing whatever is ill in our lives.




Doing What You Love

I will always make the case for doing what you love.

A person can do this either on a job or in their life along with a different job.

I’m about to read a book titled Do What You Love–And Other Lies.

The author claims that doing what you love is a myth that keeps a person working at a job where they’re underpaid and overworked and management treats them poorly.

She cites how universities employ mostly adjunct professors instead of tenured professors.

Yes: I do understand and agree that a lot of employers stiff their staff in terms of money and other compensation and in terms of treating staff with respect.

Yet we cannot conflate these kinds of working environments with doing what you love.

We cannot extrapolate that everyone who does what they love is treated unfairly and paid a lower wage or salary.

Here’s a real-life truth: I gave a guy a career assessment quiz. One of his Top 40 Careers was occupational therapist. Yet long before he took the quiz he had wanted to pursue a degree in occupational therapy.

Is occupational therapy a low-paying job where the person is treated poorly?

I took this career assessment quiz seven years after I started my job as a librarian. Among my Top 40 Careers were writer, motivational speaker, career counselor, and librarian.

That’s why I strongly urge each of us to use our intuition to decide what makes sense for us to do.

I had done all those “careers” long before I took the assessment quiz.

The truth is clear: you can do what you love on a job or hate your job because it’s a soul-sucking job you work at just to pay the bills.

The choice is clear to me: doing what you love is better than doing what you hate.

I’ll talk in the coming blog entries more about why I stand by this assertion.

Doing what you love? Yes. Yes. And Yes.

The world does not need everyone to be unhappy living a life that is a lie because the “f” or fun is taken out of it.

Wouldn’t you rather do what you love than make yourself miserable earning a $100K salary and having a lot of stress and pressure?

You can’t tell me it’s “normal” to chase money so that you can buy more and more things living on a treadmill of buying and spending and buying and spending.

I say: a person can be happy doing what they love. And they can earn a livable wage or salary doing it.

I’ll talk about this in the coming blog entries.

Trusting Our Intuition

I watched a Suze Orman DVD a couple of years ago.

One guy she singled out had gone to school to get a degree so he could have a better career. He couldn’t find a job and might have incurred student loan debt.

He had been a waiter. Suze Orman berated him. She told him he could’ve had a perfectly fine life if he continued to wait tables.

After she was done trussing him up it looked like the guy was about to cry. His eyes were wet. She had publicly humiliated him.

Frankly, that’s not how I want an “expert” to treat me.

I’m confident we’ve all felt guilty and ashamed when we’ve tried to live by an expert’s rules and failed.

The kicker is: I went back to school when I was unemployed so that I could get a degree that would enable me to have a better career.

Suze Orman is against people doing what I did: going back to school instead of immediately looking for a replacement job.

Yes: I do think we need to trust our intuition more.

We need to pay attention to how our bodies feel and what our bodies are telling us.

Plenty of peers get college degrees. Not everyone uses their degree on the job they have. Yet educating yourself is not ever a waste of time or money if you ask me.

I’ll talk about this in future blog entries: why I think and will always think it’s no crime to want to do what you love and earn a livable wage or salary from it.

Telling a person that he should be content to wait tables when that is not what his soul calls out for him to do is a mistake.

Better: tell him that if he can’t find another job he can wait tables and do something else on the side that brings him more happiness.

Using our intuition to decide what’s the right thing to do makes sense.

Maybe the waiter convinced himself to purse the career-of-the-moment instead of listening to what the still voice inside him told him he was passionate about.

Maybe he could’ve done volunteer work in the new field to put on his resume when he did start to look for a new job.

Maybe he realized in the end that it wasn’t where his heart was after all.

In my blog I’ll talk about what I think is practical to do and what is possible to achieve.

My goal is to be a cheerleader not a naysayer.

You can decide for yourself if what I write makes sense.

I don’t think shaming people or making them feel guilty is pretty.

Flossing Your Teeth

Just this week the biggest news has been that you don’t have to floss your teeth or that doing so doesn’t prevent cavities and gingivitis after all.

Again I see in this news a link to mental health treatment just like I linked the perils of developmental aid to mental health agencies.

As the teacher and mentor for the Peer-to-Peer recovery education course years ago I told the people taking the course that “You are the expert on your own recovery.”

This is because each of us is the expert on our own life.

I’ll talk here about flossing teeth in this blog entry and then continue in this vein in the coming blog entries.

First of all, I’ve rarely flossed my teeth. I’ve always thought that what you eat and whether you brush your teeth accounts far more for the health of your teeth.

Consuming sugar will erode your tooth enamel.

And sometimes it’s just plain luck: I once bit into a hard piece of cheese and chipped the inside top of two lower teeth. It cost me $422 to have the teeth bonded.

“You’re lucky you didn’t need caps,” the receptionist said after I emptied my wallet to pay the dentist. “That would’ve cost a thousand.”

No kidding. In 10 years, I’ve had only one cavity.

The only purpose I see in flossing my teeth is to have a beautiful smile.

Having broccoli stuck between your teeth is not attractive.

So I’ll floss my teeth when I go out to remove the gunk between my teeth.

That’s about it: vanity counts more than health for me when it comes to flossing my teeth.

I kid you not.

This tale hints at why I think it pays to take what some experts say with a grain of salt. I’ll talk about this more soon.