Accommodations On The Job: Yes Or No?

A woman on Twitter tweeted that she regrets that people diagnosed with mental illnesses are told not to disclose to their employer and not to seek reasonable accommodations.

I, for one, see things differently. I obtained the job I liked and would be good at precisely so that the illness would not be an issue on the job.

A therapist boldly told me once: “Everyone knows anyway. Who are you kidding?” A dessert plate with a fortune cookie design that I own has this fortune: You Think It’s A Secret But It’s Not.

Thus it’s possible people will know you have something going on even if you don’t tell them.

I get it. I understand that individuals who have a harder time of it with their mental illness would like to have the equal opportunity to succeed in the workplace alongside others who do not have a diagnosis.

This is where you have the right to request a reasonable accommodation. Yet I still think that if you don’t need an accommodation it’s risky to disclose indiscriminately.

Yet another truth exists that makes asking for accommodations possible:

Normal people get to break the rules by extending their lunch hour to shop for cute shoes in a nearby store. The Brazen Careerist suggests talking longer breaks as a valid get-ahead strategy.

And other people enter therapy for non-mental illness reasons: like the ending of a marriage or a loved one’s illness. They have to leave work early or come in late for various kinds of doctor’s appointments. And people call in sick because the have to stay home to care for a sick kid who is home from school. Or they call in to say they have an emergency at home.

Really then: what’s the big deal about the reason for the accommodation requested when all things being equal everyone needs some kind of accommodation at some point?


Top 20 Food Choices

Dr. Phil has published another weight loss book. I checked it out of the library only to read the section on the Top 20 Food Choices to eat.

1. Coconut oil (virgin) is a fit fat.
2. Green Tea
3. Mustard (yellow or Dijon)
4. Walnuts
5. Olive oil (extra virgin) is a fit fat.
6. Almonds, unsalted raw or dry roasted
7. Apples
8. Chickpeas / garbanzo beans
9. Dried plums / prunes
10. Greens – any kind of leafy green -e.g. arugula, baby mixed greens, bok choy, collard greens, endive, field greens, kale, radicchio, red leaf lettuce, romaine, baby spinach, watercress, etc.
11. Lentils
12. Peanut butter (natural) – get the kind with no added sugar.
13. Pistachios (roasted, unsalted)
14. Raisins
15. Yogurt (nonfat, nothing added)
16. Eggs
17. Cod
18. Rye
19. Tofu
20. Whey protein, unsweetened.

This is going to be tooting my own horn however I can vouch for eating these Top 20 Food Choices. Along with my strength training routine for the last four years I have adhered to an eating plan that is comprised of a lot of these food choices.

It can’t be a coincidence that I’m in peak condition and fitness at the same time I’ve been eating these food choices.

If you think you can be helped by following Dr. Phil’s diet plan to the letter, by all means buy his book or check it out of the library.

In my estimation simply eating healthful food 80 percent of the time and incorporating these food choices will be sufficient to see long-term benefits.

Super Foods

Years ago at HealthCentral I wrote about promoting health and wellness by eating certain foods. Now Dr. Phil has come out with a list of 20 kinds of food to eat to promote weight loss.

Our daily needs according to the workshop I attended years ago are comprised of: whole grains, Omega 3 essential fatty acids, low fat dairy, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and protein.

According to research at Penn State, dieters who ate lots of whole grains lost more belly fat and improved their levels of an inflammatory marker that is linked to diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

In my estimation getting 20 to 35 gm fiber per day is beneficial. Two servings of whole grains a day before the afternoon is what Pamela Peeke, MD recommends.

Benefits of Omega 3 are improved lipid profile reducing cardiovascular risk, improved diabetes outcome,improved neurotransmission stimulation improving depression, reducing suicide and hostility and improved memory function. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults eat fish at least two times per week.

No-fat dairy is better than low-fat dairy in my estimation. Research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital of 30,000 women in the Women’s Health Study found that an increased intake of low fat dairy products reduced women’s risk of developing hypertension. Some research points to a weight reduction benefit of dairy calcium showing it to trigger the body to burn more fat, particularly around the waistline.

Benefits of eating vegetables include reduced cance3r risk, reduced risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, diabetes prevention, and help with weight control. Benefits of fruits are similar to vegetables.

The recommend serving of nuts and seeds per day is 1/4 cup no more. Walnuts are the most nutrient packed of the nuts and seeds, and contain plant Omega 3-fatty acids, vitamins E and B6, magnesium, protein, fiber, potassium and polyphenols.

Beans contain low fat protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and phytonutrients.

Protein comes from meat,beans, seeds, nuts and fish. I’ve heard that you should divide your weight in half to get the number of milligrams of protein you should have per day. I would clock in at 61 gm.

In the next blog entry I will list Dr. Phil’s Top 20 Foods.

Hope Heals

I’m tired of alleged “international experts” talking smack about people living with schizophrenia.

As early as 2007 when I first started to be employed at HealthCentral (nine years ago): I wanted to cheer people on and offer positive solutions for the challenges of living with this illness.

What good comes of a person talking smack about himself or others with schizophrenia?

I want to be given hope that I can live a happy life even with ongoing challenges. I want to read about people and hear from people who show us a better way: that we can transmute our pain by doing some good in the world to help ourselves and others.

I always sought to turn my pain into a thing of beauty for other people. To show that there’s a light on the road ahead. To extend a lantern of hope along the sometimes-dark road.

My point is: every human being needs light and love and laughter. Not to constantly be reminded of how hard life is. I make the case for attending a comedy club. Or watching a marathon of the old Looney Tunes Warner Brothers cartoons.

Life can be hard living with schizophrenia. Yet it can also bring us joy when we actively look for the silver lining. A silver lining does exist: we get to choose how we want to live our lives.

I wrote in my memoir that being diagnosed with schizophrenia gave me the opportunity to find out what was important to me and to discard the rest. That’s something beautiful: limiting the extraneous: what’s not necessary for us to do we should discard.

We don’t have to chase after another person’s dreams for what we should do. We can follow our own path. That was the whole ethic of left of the dial: that I chose a different path, later in life, after the narrowly-defined path I was on failed me.

Remember: a lot of times you didn’t fail; the job or lifestyle or activity failed you because it was at odds with what you needed to do to be truly happy.

Hope Heals. The road of recovery is a journey not a destination. The older I get, the less impressed I am with coveting achievements. We should each of us like ourselves for who we are not what we’ve accomplished.

I think I’ve written this somewhere before.

Light love and laughter can be as potent as any medication we take. Laughter truly is the best medicine in addition to our SZ meds.

Hope does heal.

Four Weeks To Spring

It’s coming up on four weeks until spring.

I’m busted: just as guilty of frittering away the day when I’m holed up inside when the wind chill is too cold outside to go out of the apartment.

I’ve written that I value being in tune with the natural world: to be in synch with the seasons. Fall is the harvest to enjoy the bounty of our labor. Winter is the season to hibernate and to clear out the old and make new plans. Spring is the rebirth of ourselves to have the energy to carry out our goals. Summer is sweet and the living can be easier in that season.

This is how our lives evolve: season-by-season. Yes: I do value respecting the forces of nature. I value living near greenery or within an easy commute to a park. The goal in New York City a couple of years ago was to plant a million trees.

If you’re going to hibernate, I make the case for doing it in style. Lie in bed for hours in elegant pajamas. Listen to the radio. Read a fashion magazine.

Yet sometimes the lure of doing nothing must be heeded. Part of living life-even for those of us who are not in recovery-is to recover from the daily grind. To rest and recharge our batteries on the days when we’re not active outside.

A typical winter’s day, Chez Chris:

7 a.m. – wake up automatically without alarm clock and listen to the radio when the alarm does come on.

morning – work on a writing project.

afternoon – fritter away my tax refund by shopping on the Internet.

late afternoon – install CDs on my computer from iTunes.

night – listen to radio.

next day: lather rinse repeat all of the above.

It doesn’t help when Presidents’ Day is an official holiday and baby it’s cold outside so you stay indoors shopping all over again on the Internet.

Do not try this at home: I don’t recommend a person goes into debt using their credit card.

I do recommend hibernating in the winter. The siren’s song of lying in bed all day can’t be resisted.

Five days later your packages will arrive in the mail.

What’s not to like?

Ha Ha

(Almost) nothing is sacred to me in terms of comedy.

Though I don’t like racist or ethnic jokes.

I admire and respect Dick Gregory: the 1970s comedian who broke the color barrier in stand-up comedy.

He related this tale: He was in a restaurant eating chicken down South when the KKK entered and one of those guys told Gregory: “What you do to the chicken we’re going to do to you.” Insinuating they’d cut him up.

Dick Gregory promptly kissed the chicken.

There’s a guy, a senior citizen who stops me on the street to tell me jokes.

“Are you ready for the weekend – I have a joke,” he saw me coming one Sunday.

“Yes – sure.”

“What do you call a nun who walks in her sleep?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” I was puzzled.

“A Roamin’ Catholic.” He flashed a wide grin.

“That’s funny.” I laughed.

Imagine that: getting stand-up comedy on the sidewalk.

I kid you not there’s something to be said for having a sense of humor.

Don’t Give Up The Fight

A poster on a wall beckons: Don’t Give Up The Fight.

I will go to my grave fighting for the right of every person who experiences mental or emotional distress to get the right help right away to halt disability.

I’ve been employed as the Health Guide at HealthCentral’s schizophrenia website for nine years now. Easily five years ago I wrote at HealthCentral that sometimes getting out of bed warrants a recovery Nobel Prize.

It’s hard. I won’t discount how hard it is. Yet I prefer to focus on the positive because hope heals.

It’s possible I’m doing something right because this blog kicked off only seven months ago in the summer and a ton of readers are tuning in. I give a “mille grazie”-a thousand thank you’s-to every reader and to my loyal followers for tuning in.

It is part of my biology-my chemical nature-that I’m an eternal optimist. I was born with a fighting spirit to not give up. My mother had seven miscarriages before I was born. So I must have been determined to be born: to give my mother the baby she always wanted.

I tell you now and I will tell you always: don’t give up the fight to have a better life.
I understand that people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses often have to fight to be taken seriously. We have to fight to be given crumbs from the table when everyone else feasts at the banquet.

This is no joke. I do not take this lightly even though I have an irrepressible sense of humor.

Certainly it’s hard living with schizophrenia or another mental illness.
Yet the solution is not for the mainstream media to parrot the hell we’re in ad nauseam without offering ideas for solutions and techniques to make our lives easier.

At HealthCentral, I write news articles that focus on schizophrenia recovery strategies.

I’m going to end this blog entry with a request that readers post comments about future blog topics they might like me to write about. In the earlier incarnation of my blog a reader wanted me to write about negative symptoms and I obliged.

In the next blog entry I will talk about the beauty of hibernating in the winter.