Alternative Careers

librarian book cover

I recommend getting a library job as an alternative career to working in retail or working in a cubicle in an office.

Those of us without a library degree can get a job as a clerk in a library.

Or better yet those of us with great computer skills can get a tech position in a library.

This is because a lot of libraries aren’t hiring clerks anymore. Libraries today are creating tech support positions.

As the book cover attests, libraries attract a diverse crowd.

I started my new career when I was 35. It’s not ever too late to change gears.

This is a good thing to do when you’re having a hard time in your first career.

Mid life gives us the opportunity to change our lives for the better.

Like I’ve always championed:

It’s a kind of mental health treatment to have a job you love.

The book is interesting. You can check it out of the library if you can’t afford to buy it.

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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.

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.

 

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.)

5 Benefits of Taking SZ Medication

Here I’d like to talk about something I referred to in my employment talk at the 2016 NAMI-New York State educational conference.

For those of us who could benefit I want to offer a positive perspective on taking SZ medication.

In my firsthand experience and from observing others it’s my firm belief that most people diagnosed with SZ need to take medication to have a better chance at living a full and robust life.

Taking medication can give a person a competitive advantage in succeeding at setting and achieving goals in the real world.

Here now I’d like to talk about the benefits of taking medication for those of us who need to:

Side effects can be managed.

As soon as I switched the dose time to taking the tiny dose in the morning and the high dose at night–voila–I was wide awake every single day and no longer falling asleep on the job.

You’re in control.

I guy I love told me that he feels “calm, in control, and focused” when he takes medication.

Exceptional M.D.s and therapists can be found treating mental health conditions.

You can go on the Resources to Recover Website to view the directory of family-endorsed providers in the NY-NJ-CT-MA area.

True mind freedom is possible.

With clarity of thought and balanced moods it’s easier to live your life.

People who take medication can have better health and live longer.

One study revealed that peers who took medication were better able to stay on top of their health and actually lived longer.

A friend of mine with SZ is now 72 and he’s taken medication since he was 13.

On Thursday I’ll return with details about how the employment talk went and things I talked about. It was a smashing success.

 

My first job was as an administrative assistant. Yet I decided I would try to excel as an account executive in the insurance field after my first job ended.

The assistant job was okay for what it was. Yet an intelligent, quirky young girl like me wouldn’t really succeed typing letters all day and processing expense reports.

Nor would it turn out that becoming a corporate superstar was a better goal.

Environment is everything when it comes to succeeding on the job. I’ve also worked in a law firm as well as offices.

If you ask me any artist should steer clear of a buttoned-up mentality in the workplace.

By all means work in an office if that’s what suits you. Set career goals for yourself wherever you work.

Yet jumping out of the boxes others place you in is imperative. Coco Chanel the legendary fashion designer is quoted: “To be irreplaceable you must be different.”

When your fate is in the hands of your boss or your employer it makes more sense than ever to acquire skills you can use in a solo gig to earn income in addition to your day job.

My prime beef has been when mental health or vocational staff tell patients or clients what they think we should do without asking us what we’d like to do.

A job like an administrative assistant can be a good job in its own right or it can be a stepping stone to a different or better job.

I just think any career exploration should take into account a person’s gifts and strengths and personality.

Wherever you go you will have to deal with co-workers.

I’m going to talk in the next blog entry about why disclosing your MH challenge on the job can backfire. Then I’ll talk about getting secret accommodations that no one else has to know about.

Thinking Out of the Box

For going on years now thinking out of the box has become a cliche.

I finally figured out why I was able to think I could get a job and be successful in 1990 when no one else with an MH challenge seemed to be employed or be able to hold a job.

Quite simply I didn’t want to be placed in a box.

The diagnosis in the end wasn’t stigmatizing at all–it was the mental health staff’s perception that the diagnosis limited me that threatened to limit me–not any actual limitation I might have had.

Perception is often everything. It clouds the truth like an internal or external roadblock.

Yet we have the choice to disregard what others tell us to believe about ourselves: that there’s no hope; that no one can recover; that we have to collect SSI and live in poverty in a dangerous apartment complex on the edge of town for the rest of our lives.

How did I have the guts not to swallow the snow job I was given about what I could do? I looked around. I saw the other patients had warmed those chairs in groups for two, three, or four years. I saw patients get addicted to crack living in the residence.

Quite simply I knew that I was the only one who had a vested interest in seeing me succeed. That–and oh–my Conservative mother booted my ass to get a job.

Yes I had family support–I had a family that didn’t abandon me when I was diagnosed. That is all too rare for young people diagnosed with a mental health condition.

How does this relate to finding the career we love?

You and I aren’t going to be happy and healthy living another person’s life.¬† We’re going to get sick stuffing down our gifts and talents to please others and conform to what they think is an acceptable way to live our lives.

It’s true–research going back years ago proves–that a significant number of creative people also have mental health challenges.

I’ll talk in the coming blog entry about environment-about how where you work can make a difference in whether you succeed in recovery. And about how I jumped out of a limiting box and you can too.