Getting Help When You Need It

Sometimes you can’t make it on your own. We all could use a little outside help.

I’ve been in remission for over 27 years because I’ve taken medication every day as it was prescribed.

After witnessing a police event where I live in New York City I’ve come to have zero tolerance for stigma.

Stigma in society comes in many forms like sexism and racism and in other guises.

If you ask me stigma is a disease that needs to be healed.

Without love and compassion given it is harder for a person to recover.

Recovery from mental illness, recovery from ongoing microaggressions, and recovery from any physical illness or other setback isn’t easy when others in society judge you as not being worthy of compassion.

One month ago I was trapped inside a library with an active shooter situation in the building right next door.

This event only solidified the empathy I have for everyone.

“Everyone’s safer staying inside the library. No one can enter or exit your building” the lead cop told us.

A negotiation team straight out of a 1970s S.W.A.T. TV show episode was talking with a woman who had a firearm.

The cops wore body cameras and body shields.

I was trapped in the library for over an hour. Finally the lead cop came in and said: “It’s over. You can open up.”

The emotionally disturbed person (EDP) with the firearm had been taken to a hospital.

If she had killed someone or the police had killed her the incident would’ve been headline news.

Witnessing firsthand the prowess of the NYPD officers in negotiating with the armed woman I could respect and admire the cops that resolved the matter with no violence incurred on anyone’s part.

The event hit home with me the idea that there’s no cause to be hating and judging people.

“It could’ve been me in that armed woman’s shoes” is what I thought.

With a change of circumstance I could’ve remained permanently ill for the rest of my life. Only I got the right help within 24 hours.

I do not take lightly the need for love and compassion in the world.

In the coming blog entries I will commence talking about the Mind-Body Connection.

My journey of self-improvement started over the weekend with one tiny change.

Would making this change give me better health?

I’m going to document the link between mental health and physical health.

My stance is that I have zero tolerance for stigma.

I envision a world where every one of us is free to be ourselves.

I choose health. I choose to share the tactics that have helped me stay fit and active.

It’s my hope that I can empower readers to seek help if you need it.

For there can be no shame in seeking to get help for whatever illness, setback, or hardship you’re experiencing in life.

Getting the right help right away can make all the difference.

 

How to Eat Healthier – Part Three

One of the scariest true facts is that chemicals thought to cause cancer are often found in food and drink products in the U.S.

Not all chemicals in food and drink products are regulated. Most aren’t.

Awhile back I had no energy to get out of bed on most days. Without resorting to taking an anti-depressant (I wasn’t depressed just fatigued) I was willing to try any non-chemical method of regaining my vigor.

My primary care doctor had told me that emotional distress can cause physical fatigue.

One idea she told me was to buy Ubiquinol from the pharmacy. The pill was supposedly a better version of CoEnzyme Q10.

CoQ10 is thought to give a person energy. I thought nothing of popping this pill until I read the ingredients. The Ubiquinol was listed as having Red and Blue Food Dye.

No kidding. After that, I stopped buying and taking this supposedly healthful product.

The pills were coated in an orange color–which should’ve been a tip-off.

Shortly after I stopped taking this OTC product my energy started to get elevated again. So I was lucky the fatigue slowly slowly got better.

You might not know this: a lot of drugs that are prescribed like atypical anti-psychotics cause weight gain precisely because the pills cause a person to have a ravenous appetite.

I take a pill that I’m grateful didn’t cause weight gain.

To end this blog entry I want to give you a dose of common sense.

Alas, common sense isn’t at all common.

I’m 53 years old, so technically I’m living in mid life.

Yet I haven’t packed on any extra pounds in mid life and have maintained the same weight as when I was 40.

Part of this equation is that I don’t eat a lot of food. I eat healthfully 80 percent of the time. I wrote about the 80 Percent Rule in a long-ago blog entry.

When I’m not hungry anymore I stop eating. Often I leave food on my plate–not a lot yet there’s food left over.

Thinking that you have to “clean your plate” so as not to waste food is a mistake. Why are you cooking too much food to begin with?

It’s also not your fault that chain restaurants sell huge portions of food. The food they’re giving you is unhealthy most of the time: the food was bought cheaply and prepared cheaply.

Then it’s loaded up on the plate. You could be tempted to eat it all or take home the leftovers.

Taking home leftovers is better than eating the huge portion all at once. You’ll have a second meal the next day.

Eating healthful food in moderation–five a day of fruits and vegetables–is one sensible guideline I think is non-negotiable if you want to stick to the one best nutrition guideline.

In How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life Frank Lipman, MD goes so far as to recommend eating two servings of fruit a day.

Eating two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables isn’t that hard to do every day. I have an organic navel orange for breakfast and a serving of an in-season fruit for an afternoon snack. I have a salad three days a week for one serving of a vegetable that day. Mix in a vegetable for dinner on most nights:

Voila–you can see it really isn’t hard to eat healthfully 80 percent of the time.

How have I been doing in executing my sub-goals for Step Three Perspire with the  Changeology 90-day action plan?

Remember: I wanted to buy and bring salads to my job to eat for lunch 3x/per week. And I wanted to exercise at the gym 2x/ per week.

In the next blog entry you’ll find out whether I succeeded or not.

How to Make Disease Disappear

how to make disease disappear

Dr. Chatterjee in the above book details his 4 Pillars of Health: Relax – Eat – Move – Sleep.

This British M.D. is able to cure patients of disease without using medication.

The 219-page book I read in one day. I recommend loyal readers of my blog buy the book or at least check it out of the library.

For years now I’ve thought that who gets sick is random. It seemed like if the ball landed on your number in the Roulette wheel of ill health you’d become sick.

Now I know without a doubt that disease can often be caused by poor behavior and lifestyle choices.

In the coming blog entries I’ll talk in more detail about topics in How to Make Disease Disappear.

I care about readers. The route and routines to get to a life of fitness are often simple and cheap. Preventing disease is doable.

In the U.S. unfortunately the medical model is predicated on disease management instead of illness prevention. This has to change if we want people in society to be healthier and happier and wealthier.

The money we spend managing disease after it occurs would be better spent offering healthier food choices in the marketplace. It would be better spent on effective health campaigns.

In the book How to Make Disease Disappear Dr. Chatterjee tells readers point blank that traditional diet advice is wrong. For details about the right way to go about eating read his visionary book.

Each of us has to take our health into our own hands. We can’t rely on the government to have our backs as regards our health.

The book is only 219 pages. It’s an easy read.

26 Years in Remission

I’ve decided I want to act as a storyteller to tell stories from my own life. I’d also like to have other people tell their stories in this blog.

As always, I don’t have a license to practice medicine–I’m not an M.D.

So I can’t give medical advice. I can’t tell people to take medication. Nor can I give instructions on how to discontinue medication.

My goal in telling my story is to uplift and inspire others that there’s hope for healing and having your own version of a full and robust life.

Ann Bartlett at HealthCentral years ago told it like it is:

“Healing is as potent a medicine as a cure can be.”

The reality is critics have attacked me for writing about how taking medication helped me heal.

There’s a whole contingent of anti-psychiatry folk who champion that people have the right to be psychotic. Underneath their contempt of what I write there’s most likely a grain of envy.

They don’t like that I’ve done great things in my life precisely because I take medication. This disproves their claim that medication causes disability.

If I went away, if I watered down my vision to please these people, if I sold my vision to the highest bidder (Pfizer et al), nothing would change in society.

Peers who need to hear my message of hope and healing would be left in the dark. Families would think there’s no hope for there loved ones.

This is my story:

I’ve been in remission from schizophrenia–with zero symptoms–for 26 years as of this month.

This has been possible because I take a dose of maintenance medication.

The details about my recovery are out in the open in my memoir Left of the Dial.

What’s different about my story is that when I was only 22 and first diagnosed I dared think a better life was possible than the one presented to me: living in public housing and collecting a government disability check forever.

I’ve written in here before a blog entry that if I remember right was titled the Myth of Competitive Employment.

One anti-psychiatry critic denounced my success as impossible for most people to achieve.

If that were so, why would I dangle in front of peers a goal that can’t be reached?

Those of us who are doing well–most of us who are doing well–don’t have the courage like I do to talk about this publicly. So it can seem like no one’s able to recover.

The point–as expressed in The Myth of Competitive Employment–is that each person’s definition of recovery is going to be different.

Each of us can find our own version of well inside the illness. My version of well is simply my story. Your version of well is your story.

I really wish more people would come forward to tell their stories.

I wanted to publish Left of the Dial to show how getting the right treatment right away can create a better outcome.

I’ve been in remission 26 years as as of this month.

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about the book in more detail.

Mental Healthcare Change

To start a more productive conversation about mental healthcare change we must talk about the root of societal ills: the economic growth model exposed in my Left of the Dial blog recently.

America–a capitalist society–has as its economic foundation the growth model.

Only the economic growth model is ravaging the earth, causing resource depletion, and human rights violations too.

This economic model has also created a prison employment sector that exploits “the justice-involved”: incarcerated individuals, their families, and communities.

It’s the “school-to-prison” complex that disproportionately has a greater effect on low-income communities and people traditionally called minorities. (I detest using the word minority to describe a person.)

I’m thinking now about how to create positive lasting changes. As I’ve not ever thought our government will ever be invested in catering to ordinary citizens instead of Citizens United corporations.

How then can we get positive mental healthcare change enacted? What can we do? Talking about injustices hasn’t corrected this imbalance of power.

Today peers are still criminalized, winding up in jail not treatment for crimes committed while symptomatic. While in jail there’s no medication given. That’s how a guy with SZ was able to self-amputate his tongue while locked up.

It’s no joke.

All of this is ultimately linked to the economic growth model. The prison industry actors make tons of money when people are jailed–and these corporations have the big bucks to lobby the government to do their bidding.

“Anything to make a buck” is the prevailing ethic of capitalist America.

Psych hospitals have been closing down for decades now. In New York City where 8 million people live there are only 112 psych beds available for those of us in crisis.

Insurance companies offer limited psych coverage–so psych hospitals won’t get rich treating patients. Even hospitals operate on an economic growth model!

What’s not right is that in America profits come before people. As long as profits come before serving humanity, no societal ills will ever be vanquished.

Those of us who have the big bucks and want to serve humanity should consider running for elected office. Those of us with the big bucks should consider opening up and operating a psych hospital.

Until this imbalance of power is reversed (I fear it won’t ever be) we have to continue to exert pressure on our elected officials.

Join your local Community Board, get active in mental health and other initiatives in your community.

You’re Not an MD So Stop Giving Medical Advice

Chris Bruni is not an MD. I refuse to give medical advice.

Telling someone to discontinue their medication and offering a method to do so is practicing medicine without a license.

I’m not here to tell people what they should do. The story I tell–the only one I have to give–is my story. I can and will talk about how taking the SZ medication every day enabled me to be in remission for over 25 years so far.

A friend of mine who doesn’t have SZ I consider to be my soul mate. He discontinued his psych medication under supervision and is perfectly fine years later.

What gladdens me is that although he’s been successful he doesn’t give people medical advice. He thinks most people with SZ need to take medication.

My friend hasn’t attacked me–like so many anti-psychiatry folk have done–for choosing to take pills.

I want to be very clear to readers now: telling people they should discontinue their medication is practicing medicine without a license.

At this point I won’t even tell people they must take medication because as said I’m not an MD.

We can only share our stories with each other. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want to do.

If someone asked me I would tell them that I think discontinuing SZ medication is too risky to chance it. That’s my belief and my friend’s belief.

You can decide for yourself if this makes sense to you. You have the choice.

Yet I also think that choosing psychosis over health is a big mistake.

No one I know who discontinued their SZ pills got better. They started hearing voices again. (I’m lucky I didn’t ever hear voices.)

Yet even stating this I cannot tell you or anyone else what to do or how to do it.

I urge you if you’re a paid peer specialist as your job not to dispense medical advice without a license. You’re not an MD. You’re not licensed to diagnose and treat illnesses.

In the coming blog entries I’m going to talk about practical career information again.

My goal is to publish You Are Not Your Diagnosis in October 2018 which is Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Talking About Treatment Choice

In my Google Alerts yesterday I received a link to a revolutionary article posted on The Sun website. Now I don’t know the politics of The Sun, yet you can bet I’m more than willing to link to the article that appeared in my inbox.

I stopped taking SZ medication in 1992 under a doctor’s supervision. Yet even though I had a mild form I relapsed within 3 months and had to go back on the Stelazine. It’s why I choose to take a maintenance dose of Geodon every day.

It’s why I’m going to link at the end of this blog entry to an article in The Sun online.

My ancestors arrived here in the 1890s from Italy. Yes, mental health issues have run in my family since the 1890s–no kidding, this is a fact.

The quote is: “Genetics is the gun. Environment pulls the trigger.”

We each of us deserve better than to be told we’re wrong for choosing how we want to live. This choice might include taking medication for those of us who need it. We each of us have the right to choose recovery in whatever form our recovery takes.

Here’s the link to the revolutionary article in The Sun:

Neurotypicals Need to Cool It with the Advice