Self-Advocacy

You shouldn’t ever apologize for your existence.

You shouldn’t feel that your diagnosis limits you forever.

I coached a guy who found out one of his top forty careers might be a race car technician.

I’m going to be excoriated for telling readers that we can’t always listen to what so-called experts advise us is the right thing to do.

They haven’t met us and aren’t living our lives. Only you and I know what’s the right thing to do on any given day.

You’re an equal partner with your treatment provider(s). You deserve and have the right to have input into the decisions being made about your life.

Today circa 2017 we have more options and better options for what we can do in recovery. If no option exists, you can create an option for yourself.

The Aveeno skincare advertisement gets it right: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Each of us can create a life of our own design.

It’s our right to be self-advocates. You aren’t any longer relegated to being a passive recipient of services.

That’s why I always detested using the word consumer to describe a person. You consume soft drinks. You don’t consume healthcare.

I’m going to end here with this:

You diagnosis doesn’t limit your choices forever.

Yes you can.

 

Cigarette Smoking

We should each of us love each other and protect each other and our planet.

It’s because I care about everyone living on earth that I implore readers of my blog to resist the urge to start smoking cigarettes.

I’ve always detested cigarette smoking. From the time I was a young kid–easily only nine years old or so–I’ve detested cigarette smoking.

My mother and my aunts–her sisters–smoked two packs a day for forty years. No surprise–they now sleep and travel everywhere with oxygen tanks and use inhalers.

I judge no one living on earth. Good people often make the choice to start smoking cigarettes. Illness doesn’t discriminate–it strikes good people as well as evil people.

You will become disabled if you smoke cigarettes.

You’ll have to sleep and travel with an oxygen tank. If you care about vanity, and choose to smoke, you’ll get wrinkled early and lose your looks and have yellow teeth. Chances are, you’ll lose your teeth at some point and need false teeth.

If you do only one positive thing in your life and nothing else quit smoking if you’ve already started. Only doing this–quitting smoking–is the best thing you could ever do.

I’m losing my aunt now after losing my father to colon cancer in 2015. It’s unimaginable yet true–a good person taken out because she smoked cigarettes for 40 years.

You’ll think it’s over if you’re 60 and quit smoking yet you’ll remain in compromised health forever. Fare better to quite smoking at 30 than to smoke for your whole life. Yet I implore you to quit now even if you’re 60.

I don’t take this lightly. I don’t care if a person wants to stay at home watching TV all day. I don’t care if a person chooses jealousy or hate over love. I don’t care how anyone else lives their life.

I do care about health. I care that everyone living on earth has the chance to be healthy. I care that good people make bad choices.

It’s because I’ve seen the perils in my own family of smoking cigarettes that I implore readers now: resist the urge to start smoking cigarettes.

You don’t deserve to be hooked up to tubes, comatose, and barely breathing after you have an operation.

You don’t deserve to have limited romantic choices because no one wants to date a smoker.

You don’t deserve to add a smoking-related disability to the mental health disability you already have.

You deserve to have a long, healthy, prosperous life.

You deserve to meet the man or woman of your dreams.

You deserve to save money on your healthcare.

After all, why not make yourself rich instead of making Phillip Morris rich?

It’s something to think about dear readers.

If you smoke, the people who care about you are living in pain watching you make yourself ill. You’re not the only one you’re hurting by making yourself ill. Those of us who watch you light up are in agony too.

We care a lot.

I care and I haven’t even met you.

I’ll end here with the hope that you can read what I’ve written and take it seriously.

Numerous options exist for helping you quit.

You might not stay quit and it could take a couple of times.

Yet now is the right time to try.

I’m rooting for you dear readers.

College Mental Health Center Crisis

Hi everyone,

I’ve proofread the manuscript for my second book and will send it over to my literary agent this week. This accounts for my time away from this blog.

My agent sent me a link to a news article about the college mental health crisis on campuses across America. The situation is more dire than it has ever been for young adults.

In my memoir Left of the Dial two short scenes detail my experiences with trying to get mental health help at my college–The College of Staten Island in New York City in fall 1986 and spring 1987.

The first time I met with a woman at the Student Life Office for two times. I didn’t click with her and couldn’t articulate exactly why I thought my life was falling apart.

This was in fall 1986 one year before I had the breakdown. I had the psychic intuition that something was not right so sought help.

After not clicking with the woman a year later in 1987 shortly before I graduated I went to the mental health center on campus and spoke with a therapist for one half hour meeting.

He told me in these exact words that he couldn’t help me because I was graduating and after that I was on my own. No kidding. Those were his exact words.

The mental health center counselor didn’t give me a referral to a therapist in the community. Apparently he “diagnosed” me in his mind  as just another student nervous about her prospects in life post-school.

Just four months later I wound up in a hospital.

The news article I’m going to link to now details that students in need of help are asked if it’s an emergency when they contact their school’s mental health center. The students have no idea what constitutes an emergency and whether what they’re going through is minor or serious.

One young woman interviewed in the article attempted suicide because her wait to see a counselor at her school was too long. As a result, she lost her job, her off-campus apartment, and her ability to get a pilot’s license.

This is no joke. What if I had gotten help in fall 1986 when I was in the prodromal that is the first stage of my illness? Would I not have wound up in a hospital?

It appalls me that 30 years later–yes 30 years later–nothing has changed at colleges and universities in their approach to helping students with mental health issues.

It has only gotten worse.

Here’s the article on the college mental health center crisis.

(The link might take you to Twitter so I hope it goes through okay.)

New Ideas About Goal Setting

If you ask me the best way to achieve a goal is to focus on the process not the outcome.

A lot of us will have to start from the premise that it might take longer and harder to get where we want to be be.

Just knowing this can help us feel better instead of expecting quick results.

That’s why I use the term lifelines not deadlines.

So I say–set a goal that’s within reach. As you rack up wins challenge yourself to do something slightly beyond what you think you’re capable of.

Jim Afremow in his book The Champion’s Comeback writes that the goal shouldn’t be to lighten our load–the goal should be to seek to have broader shoulders.

Living with a mental health challenge isn’t ever easy. We can have times when our lives ARE easier so we must appreciate these times when they’re here.

As is quoted: “You have two hands: one for helping yourself. One for helping others.”

In this regard I’ve become so inspired because of the Women’s March on Washington.

If you want to read about this March I’ll be posting a review and my impressions of it on Saturday to the Left of the Dial blog.

Drinking Plenty of Water

I’m on a big kick now to get people to drink plenty of water.

Divide your weight in half to get the number of ounces of water to drink each day.

I’m as guilty as anyone of resisting drinking water.

If you don’t drink enough water you could wind up needing to go to the ER for hydration via an IV drip.

Without enough water you could get so fatigued that you can’t get out of bed.

If drinking water doesn’t appeal to you, try using a bigger glass and filling it halfway so you’re not overwhelmed. Or use only a 10-ounce glass and fill it all the way.

I’ve ordered one of the Ellen DeGeneres Joy mugs to use throughout the day to drink water.

Drinking water flushes out toxins. Drinking water gives you clearer skin. Drinking water keep you hydrated. Thus drinking water helps you maintain your energy level.

What’s not to love about drinking water?

Continuing in Recovery

The older you get in your life it’s possible to have a better recovery.

My point exactly is that engaging in goal-seeking behavior can make all the difference in the quality of your life.

God didn’t put me here on earth in this lifetime to judge anyone else. Yet it’s my philosophy that watching TV all day and isolating in your apartment can breed ill health.

The term “actively alone” I’ve coined to describe the benefit of doing positive healthy things–whether in your apartment cooking a meal or going to a coffeehouse to read a newspaper and drink a latte.

Sometimes all it takes is getting out of your house and your head to improve how you feel about yourself.

The further along you are in your recovery you can make new strides along the way. The goal is to not stop growing and improving. If you ask me staying in the same place mentally will lead to a stagnant life.

It’s January–which in my book is the perfect time to do early Spring Cleaning.

The first article I ever got published was in 1990 in the Women’s Forum of the Staten Island Advance newspaper. My article in appeared in January and was titled Time to Start Spring Cleaning.

Indeed–over and over through the years I’ve made the case in the blog for doing spring cleaning in January, in the actual spring,or at any time of the year.

Clearing the cobwebs out of your head as well as clearing items out of your closets is to me the perfect technique to segue into taking new risks.

Go at your own pace. Recovery is not a race nor is it a competition.

My friend and I count down the weeks to spring not the endless winter days. Right now there’s just over only nine weeks to spring.

Spring will be here in due season.

Starting Out In Recovery

I’m going to write again about topics in the book I’m working on publishing next.

In terms of goals the simplest form of a goal is an item on a to-do list.

First starting out a person might want to limit themselves to tackling a bare-bones to-do list.

Yet this also makes sense at any point in your life. One way is to focus on realistic and achievable goals.

It takes 21 days to change a behavior.

It makes sense to me to start each month by writing down a goal on an index card to refer to. Break the goal into weekly sub-goals.

In the fourth week at the end of the month review what you did to achieve the goal and plan the next month’s goal.

It does seem that “compartmentalizing” this way can help a person feel less overwhelmed by the big picture. Breaking things down into steps can make things manageable.

John C. Norcross wrote about a  scientifically-proven method of changing behavior in Changeology. That’s a great book you can check out of the library if you can’t afford to buy it.

I’ll write next in here about setting goals when you’re farther along in recovery.