Moving the Needle to the Left

I’d jumped into writing about the visionary book.

It seems I’d wrote that I’d write next about how to shift the needle to the left of the dial.

My intent in titling my memoir Left of the Dial was to demonstrate how doing the things you love can help you heal.

Living your life left of the dial–joyously, creatively, and passionately–if you ask me is a beneficial method of healing.

I’ve reckoned with the fact that becoming a trial attorney wasn’t in the cards for me in this lifetime. I was destined to go left when everyone else goes right.

Seeking emotional harmony between your thoughts and feelings is a way to shift the needle to the left. This can be via talking to a therapist. It can be via reducing the nonstop reliance on your electronic devices at all hours of the day and night.

What has changed my life for the better has been exactly this: shifting the needle to the left of the dial.

In theĀ  book How to Make Disease Disappear Dr. Chatterjee recommends keeping a grateful journal. You can buy a hardbound journal to keep at your night table. Write three positive things that happened to you that day before you go to bed.

Dr. Chatterjee refers to a pioneer in the positive psychology movement who asked his daughter three questions every day: “What did you do to make someone else happy?” and “What did someone else do to make you happy?’ were two of the Qs.

Giving joy to others as a daily ritual is the foolproof way to feel good yourself.

We can’t control whether other people do good things for us or simply act for self-gain every day. This isn’t our concern. If we want to feel good, the best way I know to do this is to help others feel good.

Living a healthy life. Living whole and well.

These things are possible when you live in recovery.

That’s the ultimate premise of Left of the Dial: you don’t have to spend the rest of your life in endless hell. You can heal.

 

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Left of the Dial

My goal in writing Left of the Dial was to chronicle everything that happened after I recovered.

I wanted to dramatize the events that led me to where I am today.

Stories of young people who received the right treatment right away document that a few of them no longer needed medication.

I wasn’t so lucky.

I’m here to tell you that there’s no shame in taking medication to be well.

There’s also no shame if you don’t become a librarian like I did or do the things that other people do.

My goal in telling my story was to offer hope for healing and having your own version of a full and robust life.

In 1988 when I was first diagnosed it was unheard of for a person with schizophrenia to live in her own home and have a full-time job.

Today as of August 2018 you’d better bet it’s possible for more people living with mental health issues to have their own home and work at some kind of job.

This is predicated on getting the right treatment as soon as you need that treatment.

Over the years there’s been near-endless rhetoric about the broken mental health system. About the fate of peers whose illnesses are chronic and persistent and severe. About how their disability progressed to a permanent state because they were denied treatment. Over the years copious amounts of press have been devoted to this.

With no disrespect to anyone I simply wanted to document my story to dramatize what happens when psychiatry gets it right.

Before the Elyn Saks book and before my book there were few positive portrayals. The other first-person accounts hewed to the “misery memoir” genre. This emboldened me to want to publish Left of the Dial.

I say: the goal isn’t to become a famous Ivy League attorney or to become a famous author. The goal is to take inspiration from our stories to craft your own recovery.

Elyn Saks has ongoing symptoms by the way. Proof that you don’t have to be in remission to have a good life.

The truth is that a minority of peers won’t recover as well as I have or Elyn Saks has. This makes it more imperative to advocate for those less fortunate.

The way I see it those of us who are doing well owe a debt to society to do what we can to help others recover.

By telling my story I wanted to show what happens when psychiatry gets it right.

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk in more detail about the myth of being a superstar.