Healthful Snacks

pulse chick peas

This photo has been uploaded in a gigantic way. Apparently there’s a new way of saving photos that your iPhone has sent to your email as an attachment.

The chickpea and olive food products shown here do have salt. The Pulse version I prefer is the lemon-and-oregano chickpeas offering.

Either way these and the Gaea olive container are portable healthful snacks for on-the-go eating. I have on hand plastic-coated wire clips to use to close the Pulse container.

You can order these food items from FreshDirect online in New York City.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about a so-called diet talked about if I remember in Glamour magazine years ago.

While I’m no fan of diets and I’m absolutely against the standard diets books poured out into the marketplace I want to talk about this “diet” because a couple of elements of it make sense to me.

After this I will return to talking about careers. This month–October–is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

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The Myth of Being a Superstar

Surf on over to my Left of the Dial blog to read an entry about the absolutely gorgeous Nike video with Colin Kaepernick. You can view the short film on YouTube.

The video is uplifting and inspiring. In one way I feel like I have a connection to Serena Williams and the others featured in the film. Like the lyrics to the Lorde song “Royals” each of us came from nothing spectacular and rose up to become winners.

When you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or another mental health issue you’re told that you succeeded “despite having” schizophrenia.

Your achievements have most likely come via your own efforts. Yet minimizing your role in your success discounts how hard you worked.

In keeping with the Nike claim to be “The Greatest Ever” each of us needs to base our identity on who we are as a person not on what our illness is.

What if who you are is a biker, baker, or book lover?

Being defined by your symptoms locks you into what I call an identity straitjacket.

Using your illness as the barometer of your abilities is a mistake.

It’s quite the opposite: people can and do recover every day.

It can seem like it’s out of the ordinary to succeed when you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Yet telling people they have succeeded or thinking people succeed despite having schizophrenia reinforces the myth that this is a rare occurrence.

I’m trying to publish an Op-Ed piece soon timed to October–Disability Employment Awareness Month.

I’ll give the link here if (I hope when) the Op-Ed piece is published online.

I’m confident when I tell you that being The Greatest You is all that counts.

Summer Health Tips

For those of us taking medication the drugs could interfere with temperature regulation. Thus we might not realize how hot it really is.

We could be at greater risk for heat stroke.

Anyone on schizophrenia medication should drink plenty of water in the summer. We should stay out of the sun from 12 noon until 4:00 p.m. These are the hours when the sun is most intense.

Always wear sunscreen. Apply 15 to 20 minutes before going outside.

I take Ziprasidone the generic for Geodon.

So I don’t stay outside in direct heat for more than 10 minutes in the summer.

Alas, at the gym it always seems like the air conditioner ISN’T blowing when I’m doing a routine there in the summer.

This mystifies me as I’ve been a gym member for 15 years. Ever since joining I’ve had to lift weights with barely any air conditioning blowing for every summer so far.

You might not want to do this yet I do this: I shorten how long I work out at the gym in the summer. This is because yes it can be entirely too hot in a gym during the hot weather.

A number of public libraries in New York City are designated cooling centers because they have air conditioning. Signs in front of these branches list them as Cooling Centers.

Dial 311 in New York City to locate a Cooling Center near you.

Check where you live elsewhere to see whether you have any locations listed as cooling centers.

Staying in your own home when you have air conditioning can also be okay in the summer.

Either way it’s imperative to drink plenty of water.

Everyone Hurts

We shouldn’t forget that ordinary nameless individuals–people walking on the street or waiting in line at the supermarket– are facing pain and living in agony just like Kate Spade was.

Unlike NAMI New York State I’m not going to criticize people who are shocked and in mourning because a famous person committed suicide.

Strip away Kate Spade’s status, take her name off pocketbooks, and she’s a person who despaired of finding relief just like a lot of us despair.

The truth is that external success doesn’t always inoculate a person from hardship or from being in pain or thinking they’re suffering alone in what they go through.

Too many people obtain external markers of success–the house, the car, whatever–and yet still feel empty inside.

I wrote about this in one of the blogs when I quoted Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper TV show fame: if you’re not happy now wherever you are in life today how can you be confident you’ll be happy in the future as long as a certain condition is met?

Happiness shouldn’t be linked to “having all your ducks in a row” or be predicated on achieving some kind of goal.

Waiting for the perfect condition in life to happen before you’ll be happy–or before thinking you’ve been a success–is a mistake.

The takeaway from Kate Spade’s death is that even great success isn’t enough to give a person joy.

For mental health peers it should come as a relief the idea that we can be happy even if our lives are ordinary and unremarkable.

We don’t have to win a Nobel Prize or otherwise become a “household name” like Kate Spade to be happy and feel worthy.

What I want to tell readers:

You are a success regardless of the number on the scale, the figure in your bank account, your status in society or anything else traditionally used to measure a person.

You are a success because you are your Self.

No Judgments At This Blog

This is what I think about something that happened in response to Kate Spade’s death.

NAMI New York State violated one of its own peer support guidelines: “We judge no one else’s pain as any less than our own.”

In an electronic newsletter NAMI New York State dared write:

“The heartbreak that many of Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain’s legions of admirers are experiencing is a fraction of the emotions felt when losing a friend or a loved one.”

The audacity! NAMI New York State feels its members are more deserving than others to feel grief about a loss. NAMI New York State dares assume that other people’s pain is less than yours or mine.

This stance will only alienate people who might have sought help.

I for one have been devastated by Kate Spade’s death at her own hands. As a person with ambition who is driven to excel I acutely understand that the fashion designer might have struggled even though she was at the top of her game.

After the death-from-illness of my mentor I have been thinking often about this dichotomy exactly: Why do some people when faced with hardship keep moving along and think things can get better? While others think things are hopeless and see no way out of their pain?

Is it partly a question of being given hope when you’re at the end of your rope? Is it mostly a question of feeling rapport with your treatment providers who can give you this hope? What is the solution to despair?

In New York City The Rita Project offers hope and healing for survivors of suicide attempts via art therapy endeavors. It seems they don’t have a website (or at least I haven’t found it via the cursory Google search hits).

I offer a disclaimer header in the menu bar at the top of the blogs. What I’m really trying to do here is to offer a haven in prose where people can be uplifted and inspired.

When people are hurting the last thing they need is to have a mental health organization discount the pain they’re in.

For the record, I was distraught when a guy I had known took his own life.

I’ve thought of a way to honor friends and loved ones who have committed suicide. I want to run this by an attorney to see about the viability of doing this. It might not be possible.

Yet hey–if you’re experiencing a hardship you deserve compassion.

Kate Spade – An American Tragedy

I’m going to cut-and-paste here in this blog the entry I posted just five minutes ago in the Left of the Dial forum.

Today Kate Spade–the designer of iconic handbags–took her own life.

She had everything going for her in terms of external success.

It’s a tragedy that inside at her core she wasn’t doing very well.

A year or two ago in this Flourish blog I wrote about the phenomenon of “smiling depression.”

Women are suffering all alone because no one takes them seriously.

“How could you be depressed when you have a great life?”

“Just pray and go to church and you’ll be fine.”

“Get married and have babies and raise a family.”

That last sentence contains actual words a young woman was told years ago.

The other two sentences are oft-repeated ill advice that women are given too.

I remember vividly when I was going on a job interview in the 1990s.

I rode the elevator up to the office with another woman. She held a Kate Spade tote against her shoulder. I coveted that Kate Spade pocketbook.

It wasn’t until this spring that I dared splurge to buy myself a Kate Spade pocketbook.

I bought it at a reduced yet not cheap cost at an off-price discount retailer in New York City.

Kate and her husband sold their company years ago. Yet American women have coveted the Kate Spade handbags since their first creation.

Disability is no joke.

Mental health issues strike everyone from all walks of life.

It’s a tragedy that Kate Spade and hundreds possibly thousands of nameless faceless individuals feel the only way out of their pain is to end their life.

What if Kate Spade could’ve gotten treatment? What if she had bipolar or another mental health issue that wasn’t diagnosed?

A part of Kate Spade lives on in the pocketbook I bought this spring.

Yet that’s no consolation for the fact that another human being’s life ended in tragedy not recovery.

God bless you Kate Spade. God bless everyone living with a mental health issue who suffers. You are not alone.

The Suicide Prevention Helpline can be reached at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

You can use the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Please. The pain you are in can be healed. People care about you. Help is available.

There is a way out of the pain that will enable you to live a better life.

There’s no shame. What you feel is real and true. What you feel can be healed

The Truth About Disability

I’ve long not been proud to have a diagnosis.

What happened to me in my twenties is what it is and that’s it.

I had a breakdown followed by a relapse close to five years later.

Yes–I want to laugh when a person who hasn’t met me lumps me into a category of people they tell to “check your privilege.”

The only privilege I had in life was to be diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 22 years old.

I didn’t graduate from Harvard. I haven’t won a Nobel Peace prize like Toni Morrison did. I didn’t do anything exceptional.

What I did when I was 23 and shunted into a mental health system:

I dared to assert my right to have a full and robust life.

I’m 53 now and have been a mental health Advocate for over 15 years so far.

I believe in my vision of Recovery for Everyone, from whatever it is a person is in recovery from.

The goal I had for myself in 1987 was to make a full recovery.

My goal I have today is to help others heal, recover, and have their own version of a full and robust life.

Everyone should be given the right treatment right away. Everyone should be given this treatment so that they have an equal chance to recover fully or significantly improve.

Getting denied treatment is the root of the progression of disability for too many people whose lives are lost to chronic illness.

Getting the right treatment right away can stop a person from becoming permanently disabled.

The truth about disability is that it’s not ever fun or useful or life-improving for those of us so unfortunate to have a chronic medical condition.

Those of us living in this never-ending hell aren’t happy to have a disability.

This is why I’m going to give a thumbs down to Kanye West.

Today he has stated that he has bipolar and “it’s awesome” to have bipolar.

Kanye has told the world that bipolar “isn’t a disability.”

Funny when you’re a famous multi-million-dollar singer you can check yourself into a mental hospital for “exhaustion.”

Kanye and Wooten and their ilk claim that symptoms like mania are actually personality traits that enable them to do great things.

Really? Most people with bipolar are in unremitting pain because of their yo-yo symptoms that have only disabled them.

No. I won’t ever be proud to have a disability.

No. I’d rather not take medication. Only I have to in order to do great things.

Kanye should be concerned about his children.

With one parent with bipolar the odds are something like 15 to 35 percent that your kid will develop bipolar.

No kidding. What part of having a disability is so great?