Having a Sustainable Life

I’ve co-opted the term sustainable to describe a person’s lifestyle as well as in terms of climate change and agriculture.

I’m not a fan of our elected officials.

A true New York City moment: I was in a restroom and on the door inside the stall a person had spray painted Vote Bernie Saunders Bitches.

People are aghast that he’s a socialist however that might just be what our country needs: a president who puts the people before the profits of big businesses.

I do not trust our government to do the right things for ordinary citizens. Elected officials prohibited states from labeling GMO foods. They prohibited independent scientists from talking to politicians about climate change. It’s also no secret that private foundations draft the legislation that our politicians then frame into the wording of the bills they want to enact.

We no longer have a government “for the people and by the people.” This is why I’ll always maintain that ordinary people have to take action to change the world. We have to take our recovery and our life into our own hands. The kind of change the world needs in my estimation will best happen person-to-person and one-on-one. By each of us lending a hand to each other when our government won’t.

Thus my contention that having a sustainable life is the only way to live. It’s absolutely reckless to carry credit card debt and doing this isn’t necessary to have a good life. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to live well. And you don’t have to buy a lot of things to be happy.

I’m aware that CEOs diagnosed with schizophrenia are not commonplace right now. Thus in the coming weeks I want to write about topics geared to ordinary people (who might want to become a CEO–or not).

Either way I’m going to talk about hot topics that often no one else is talking about.

I’ll end here by talking about having a sustainable life. In other words I have titled this living Left of the Dial where doing the things you love is way to live a full and robust life.

It’s about healing and harmony. And my contention is that to heal your life should be organic: comprised of elements that co-exist and come together in a natural way.

Hope. Harmony. Healing. These are within reach for most people living with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Going over the edge over and over: financially or mentally or otherwise is not sustainable.

A better way exists. A better life is possible for a significant number of people.

Yet I do maintain that our jobs won’t be done until more people are able to recover and flourish.

I want that everyone has the same equal opportunity to succeed.

I’ve read in the book Altruism that countries with the biggest income inequality (like the U.S.) fare worse economically.

Another reason why I don’t see our government as it exists now as being able to do much to elevate the quality of life of ordinary Americans any time soon.

Having a sustainable life in this political environment is the way to go if you ask me.

Becoming self-reliant and having independence is the way to go and I’ll talk about this in future blog entries.

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Love and Money

I’m reading a book that talks about how college students invariably choose careers based on income potential. The author stated he tells everyone to choose a career for love not money and that no one listens to him.

The author gets one thing right: happiness leads to success. It’s not that when a person becomes successful they’re happy.

The secret to life is that you can be happy doing what you love earning a livable salary. You might have to work two jobs yet in my estimation that’s better than sitting home watching TV for two or three hours every day.

My view on this is as strong as the other author’s: do what you love. Do what you love. Do what you love.

Selling your soul is not the answer. In another book the author talks about how people who chase money and the things it can buy often have poorer health and smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol more than other people. They’re not any happier and I would say I doubt they’re truly successful in terms of what matters most.

The clothes on your back don’t love you back. An iPhone won’t cheer you when you’re depressed.

This goes into a second book I’m writing. I help people all the time with career searches. I helped a college student take the CareerMatchmaker quiz that I talked about in an early blog entry here. One of the careers he was interested in showed up in his Top 40 careers list.

As a practical matter selling your soul to earn money will only leave you in an emotional poorhouse.

I advocate for choosing wisely what you want to do with your life. I advocate as I have now going on nine years for doing what you love and seeing how you can earn income from this.

I could sound like a broken record claiming that buying into the myth of having status in society as a JD or MD is not the way to go. Not for creatives. Not for a lot of people whose parents push them into being super-achievers.

I don’t view any person as low-lying fruit. In my view everyone has gifts and everyone has something positive to contribute to society. Regardless of whether they earn a ton of money doing this. And regardless of whether they have an actual job or not.

Thus my famous position about valuing the services of a cashier at Rite Aid.

I’m going to sign off now. In coming blog entries I’m going to return to a focus on health and nutrition.

HealthCentral Update

This month at HealthCentral I will publish a news article titled “Finding and Succeeding at Employment with Schizophrenia.”

Yesterday I published there 5 Ways Schizophrenia Changes You. Last week I wrote Depression and Schizophrenia

This is for information of course. It’s possible that the interview I did about depression and schizophrenia might have been my best writing for HealthCentral when it was published at their depression website.

At HealthCentral I simply wanted to give information that could be practical. I will always advocate that a person seeks help from a professional before things get out of hand not after they’re in dire straits.

This October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. In a Boston University Survey I of Sustained Employment Among Individuals with Psychiatric Conditions: 95 percent of the participants were taking psychotropic medication at the time of entering the study.

I will tell others: get help before things get out of hand. Do what you can to get yourself up and out of a hole. Rock bottom is when there’s no lower you can go. Yet dancing on the edge of an abyss is no way to go either.

I don’t recommend settling for living in hell when a person doesn’t have to.

If you want to work at a job, it just might make a difference if you stay in treatment.

Alternatives to Traditional Career Counseling

I’m not a fan of the current vocational rehabilitation programs in New York that are supposed to help people and train people with disabilities to get jobs. I recommend seeing a therapist who uses solution-focused therapy and who can act as a career counselor.

I’ve gotten the OK to write at HealthCentral in October a news article on Finding and Succeeding at Employment with Schizophrenia. As I’ve said, October is Disability Employment Awareness Month.

My absolute first stop might be to make an appointment with a reference librarian at your library system’s career and business branch. Also: to consider using a life coach or a career coach in tandem with the traditional outlets for conducting a job search when you have a mental illness.

I obtained clerical training from OVR which used to be called VESID and is now ACCES-VR. No one likes them that I’ve heard of. I was told ACCES-VR sent individuals who were deaf to a printmaking training program long after jobs in that field became obsolete. I kid you not.

Research with due diligence and be resourceful in researching and analyzing the options available to you for career counseling. I’m not saying don’t use your state’s vocational rehabilitation agency in your job search. I’m saying to be aware of what’s possible for you to do.

Most of all: be an active partner with any professional you employ to help you find a job.

Stay tuned in October for more details about this.

Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is disability employment awareness month. I will try then to give a book talk where I sell copies of the memoir and talk about finding the career you love.

I once helped a guy in a wheelchair who wanted to get a job. The impressive thing was not only was he in a chair he was new to America. I thought: what a great attitude to think you could work at a job even though you use a chair.

This impressed me to no end that some people who could walk on their own two feet are lazy *sses and this guy was ready to rock.

Isn’t there a Soul Asylum song about a person in a wheelchair? About a person in a chair who has so much more to do with their life and doesn’t care about the chair? I think it’s the lyrics to “Black Gold.” Google it if you want to read the lyrics.

I was trained to help people with disabilities do career searches three years ago in October. I will tell you now: a research study indicates 42 percent of employers look favorably on a resume when the person lists a volunteer position if they have no paid employment or have an employment gap between jobs.

On September 30 I will be stepping down from my Health Guide position at HealthCentral. I might freelance there instead or freelance elsewhere. In the nine years I was employed at HealthCentral I wrote at least 11 news articles about how to search for a job and other aspects of conducting a career search.

In October at HealthCentral if I’m able and in this blog if not at HealthCentral: I will detail the research about how individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia who haven’t ever been employed can best take steps to find a job. Research has been done about this and was reported on in the April 2015 Current Psychiatry journal.

Stay tuned for some illuminating blog entries in October.

Volunteer Work

I make the case for doing volunteer work instead of attending a Clubhouse.

A study indicates upwards of 42 percent of employers view volunteer work favorably when it’s listed on a resume. Having a volunteer position as part of your history can help you when you have an employment gap because you have a diagnosis.

You can go on Idealist to find paid or unpaid jobs in the non-profit sector linked to a cause you’re passionate about.

People I’ve created resumes for who have gotten professional positions have listed this kind of community service on their resumes. Acting as a leader in your community does matter.

I was only 26 when I started my first volunteer job in the ComPeer non-profit: I was a peer to a senior citizen woman named Lila who lived in a residence. We’d listen to Yankee games on her radio. I’d drive her to an ice cream shoppe in the summer. I drove her to a picnic and drove her home from the picnic.

I was 31 when I volunteered in the Alzheimer’s Association Forget-Me-Not Thrift Shop: I sorted incoming clothes and priced them, arranged them on the racks, and rang up the sales.

No: I’m not kidding when I recommend that a person diagnosed with a mental illness does volunteer work if they can’t work at paid employment at this moment in time or when they can’t work at a paid job at all.

An employer does not want to hear that you have a gap in employment or haven’t worked at all because you have a mental illness. That’s reality.

And besides, each of us should really be contributing our talents to others in society and using our talents for the greater good. A person might be in mental or emotional pain. Doing volunteer work can help us transmute this pain and feel better about ourselves.

I have interacted with too many individuals with mental illnesses who think the world revolves solely around getting their needs met and on what other people can do for them. It’s often that they continually judge and attack other peers.

This has to stop: the judging, the hurtful comments, it all has to stop. The way to have a better life is to do something that also helps other people have a better life. Sitting around judging others instead of trying to improve your own life might make some people feel better yet it’s not the right thing to do.

Volunteer work: that’s the ticket. Doing volunteer work in studies has proven health benefits. And people who do volunteer work for altruistic reasons live longer too and have better mental and physical health.

What’s not to like about volunteer work? I recommend you Just Do It.