My Second Nonfiction Book

I’ve been remiss in publishing blog entries here because I’ve been editing and revising the book proposal for the second nonfiction book I want to publish.

It’s a one-of-its-kind career guide. I will be able to tell you more about this in October.

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Coming up in October I will return to writing about career topics.

As of tonight I’ll be returning to writing blog entries here.

What I’d like to start out writing about this week is a true story.

It goes back to my time working as an administrative assistant in an insurance office.

That was my first-ever full-time job after I stopped collecting government benefits.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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Dental Health

Forget mental health, I want to talk about dental health now.

Getting a cleaning is mandatory every six months that is twice a year. Your health insurance will often cover this if you have a dental plan.

Do I like the drilling? No, of course not yet I time it every time because there’s a clock on the wall to the left in front of the chair.

It should take only twenty minutes for the cleaning though of course it feels like a century.

Going every six months is no joke. Like with other medical appointments this can be an area where mental health peers fall down on.

Luckily, or proactively, I hardly ever have a cavity. You should be able to get the x-rays at every other visit which will cut down on costs if you have to pay out of your own pocket.

Yet I can’t say it’s luck, because I rarely eat chocolate or sugary foods that can cause tooth decay. Yet it could be the luck of the draw because I know plenty of people who have heartache with their teeth.

I was at MoMa years ago eating a piece of cheese in the museum cafe. My tooth chipped. It cost $422 out of my own pocket to get two teeth bonded after that. No kidding.

I don’t have the greatest teeth, they’re not an added attraction. Though I do have a great smile, my teeth aren’t white. And I’m not keen to obsess over having gleaming white teeth.

No–I won’t spend money to get my teeth sparkling. I’m not that kind of girl.

It’s true that I have fangs, not perfectly straight teeth. Luckily you can’t seem them when I smile. Yet I also haven’t had the urge to get my teeth bonded so that they look immaculate.

Please–get an x-ray at every other visit and get a cleaning twice a year at the dentist’s.

Your dental health is just as important as your mental health.

 

 

National Recovery Month 2017

September is National Recovery Month. I’ve been in recovery for 30 years now.

The Sixth Edition of Surviving Schizophrenia by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. has good news about schizophrenia recovery at the 30-year milestone:

“In most patients with schizophrenia, the ‘positive’ symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, and thinking disorders decrease over the years. A person who was severely incapacitated at age twenty-five by these symptoms may have only residual traces of them at age fifty.”

Long-term studies corroborate that the future can be rosier.

Yet forget the studies and listen to me–I’m 52–and I have a better life now than I did when I was 22.

It’s a myth that most people diagnosed with SZ die 25 years earlier. A good friend of mine is 73 and still alive and kicking. He rose up to become the CEO of corporations even though he was diagnosed when he was 13 and has taken medication since then.

I urge you to think for yourself about what is possible for you or your loved ones.

Other people might be proud to be Mad, and that’s their choice.

No–I’m not proud to have a diagnosis. As the years have rolled by, I’d take back every gift I was ever given if I could live one day without this illness.

No–I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t wish this on any human being living on earth.

Yet have no fear: the best is yet to be. I’m fond of saying that today is how it is and tomorrow can be better.

I’m living proof that you can have a better life when you’re older than you had when you were first diagnosed.

It takes time to get here. Expecting or wanting quick results will set you up to fail.

Now I find myself wanting to go back and talk about the early stages of recovery, using my experiences as an example.

You have no idea when you’re 22 and first diagnosed that one day you’ll be 52 and you’ll have a great life.

I’m here to tell you that this is possible.

There’s hope and healing for whatever you’re in recovery from.

Schizophrenia Remission Criteria

I’m going to give information here that gives hope for those of us living with a diagnosis of SZ and our family members:

Clinical remission is possible without having to wait years and years or decades to to achieve it.

The criteria for remission is at least six months of mild, minimal, or absent symptoms. According to the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group you can achieve remission in as little as six months.

! want to list the criteria for remission from schizophrenia according to the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group:

“Criteria include a score of 3 (mild), 2 (minimal), or 1 (absent) for at least six months for all of the following items on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS)*:”

  1. Delusions (P1)
  2. Conceptual disorganization (P2)
  3. Hallucinatory behavior (P3)
  4. Unusual thought content (G9)
  5. Mannerisms and posturing (G5)
  6. Blunted Affect (N1)
  7. Passive/apathetic social withdrawal (N4)
  8. Lack of spontaneity and flow of conversation (N6)

*A score of <3 suggests a level at which symptomatology does not have appreciable affects on daily functioning.

The stages of remission go from acute phase to stabilization phase to stable phase to remission.

Elsewhere it’s been indicated that upwards of 85 percent of individuals diagnosed with SZ reach the stable, stabilization, and recovery phases of the illness.

Fifteen percent have a refractory or treatment-resistant version.

“The journey to recovery can start at any time point throughout the stages of illness to achieving remission.”

This criteria is taken from “Striving Towards Recovery: Setting New Expectations in Schizophrenia”–a poster session that Ronald Diamond, MD presented at the NAMI convention in Washington DC in 2006.

Other research indicates that you can be in remission without achieving a better level of functional recovery. And that clinical remission in one study predicted functional improvement.

The bottom line: you can have a full and robust life living in recovery regardless of whether or not you’re in remission.

I offer this six-month guideline to give blog readers living with SZ and family members of loved ones with SZ hope that remission is not impossible to achieve.

Recovery is not impossible to achieve either.

It’s a mistake to set the hoops higher and higher that people diagnosed with SZ have to go through to be considered to be recovered.

So-called normal people have gotten a free pass at being jackasses and no one insists they live up to the impossible demands that people with SZ are expected to adhere to.

The criteria for remission is six months according to the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group. Understand?

Inspiration for Risking Change

Yes: I think that I succeeded because I have a diagnosis of SZ not in spite of it.

You have two options in how you respond to a diagnosis that could change your life plans:

Give up and buy what other people are selling: that there’s not much you can do.

Or like I did you can become more determined to defy everyone’s expectations.

That’s the difference: the diagnosis motivated me to try my best to succeed.

Before the diagnosis I always wanted to live an artist’s life in the city. After the diagnosis I quickly realized that I could do this because it was under my control whether I at least tried to do this.

As long as I gave my goals my best shot, it wouldn’t matter if I failed. The same goes for you. The only real failure is the failure to try.

As a kid, as a younger person, I lived on Staten Island–the borough where the cop killed Eric Garner in a choke-hold. It wasn’t the place I wanted to continue to live.

It was a world of white conformity in every way–devoid of color; devoid of culture.  I wanted to escape ever since I was in college.

After I was diagnosed I realized that if I acquiesced to the life plan I was being sold [collecting SSI forever and forced to live in public housing] I wouldn’t ever get out.

Take this tip from me as to what I did next:

I had the courage to risk change because I believed that tomorrow could be better.

Know this as I did then:

Whatever you want to do in life is under your control because it’s up to you to take action to try to get there. The choices you make today will help you get to where you want to be tomorrow.

Start your engines. The road is wide open.

Pizzoccheri

pizzocheri

This time around I’ll use more cabbage.

The Pizzoccheri recipe is  from thekitchn.com. The link will take you to the recipe since it’s kind of long so I won’t repeat it here. The recipe might be copyrighted.

You can print the recipe up from thekitchn.com.

It calls for pasta, potatoes, and cabbage.

I used bionaturae organic 100% whole wheat chiocciole.

You shred the cabbage in strips.

I bought a mandoline–is that what it’s called–a kind of slicer in a housewares store years ago. This might help shredding the cabbage into strips.

There you have it: a tasty meal you can make year-round on weeknights.

Strong is the New Beautiful

Strong is the New Beautiful by Olympic gold-medal skier Lindsey Vonn is the number-one fitness book I’ve ever read.

I urge you to go out and buy this book or install it on a device.

Turn to page 156 for this gem alone which makes it worth buying the book:

“The more muscle mass you have, the less likely you are to die early from any cause, according to research.”

Lifting weights twice a week and doing cardio once or twice a week can be all that’s needed to get a person in peak condition mentally and physically.

You might be turned off by the photos of Lindsey Vonn without clothes on. Yet if you ask me she poses that way to show women of all shapes and sizes that we’re beautiful just the way we are.

After winning Gold, Lindsey Vonn interacted with celebrities and started to question if she was beautiful because she had a muscular build. She wasn’t stick-thin like the women who are movie screen idols.

What Lindsey Vonn wrote bears repeating here because I’m living proof of what she speaks: you can gain a few pounds from lifting weights and drop a dress size.

Indeed, I didn’t lose any weight when I started strength training. However, I did drop one pant and one skirt size.

I’ve fit into the same size pant and skirt for over 5 years now. No–I didn’t lose weight I actually gained a few pounds. Yet I fit into a smaller size.

The secret is to not give up after only two months. It takes one year at least of consistent, dedicated strength training to see significant results that will last.

The number on the scale really shouldn’t be a woman’s concern in this regard.

As it is, I’m muscular not skeletal thin and I prefer to have muscle.

This summer I will be posting here photos of meals and recipes that readers can try at home.

It’s Greenmarket season–my favorite time of year.

I will also be posting lists of exercise motivation tips and other fitspo as it’s called for fitness inspiration.