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

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Women with SZ and Menopause

I find myself drawn to wanting to write about health topics.

Yet again I’m going to be the first person to write about a hot topic in recovery.

NAMI isn’t doing this and neither is MHA.

No one except me has dared to focus in detail on SZ and recovery at mid life. We need to have this conversation now.

For women, you’ve hit menopause when you’ve gone 12 months without your monthly period. As you approach 50, your primary care doctor can test your hormone levels.

Reading the book Menopause Confidential: A Doctor Reveals the Secrets to Thriving through Mid Life by Tamara Allmen, M.D. might be helpful.

It’s a short book yet has vital information. You can also read Body-for-Life for Women by Pamela Peeke, M.D.

Women as we age gain fat in our abdomens–the dreaded “menopot” according to Peeke.

Her book talks about the 4 stages of a woman’s life and how to cope with the changes we experience in each stage.

It’s possible to not have it so hard when you’re in menopause. Taking 400 mg of Vitamin E is thought to help with hot flashes. You can ask your mother what kinds of symptoms  she had at menopause if you’re able.

The average age of getting menopause for American women is 51. I’m 52, and I have 2 months to go. So far, I’ve had no hot flashes, I’ve been the same weight (because I strength train), and I still have a photographic memory and no fuzzy thinking.

It’s a joy not getting your monthly period.

Yet if you’re having sex, make the guy wear a condom and get tested for HIV/AIDS. People diagnosed with SZ have a higher risk for HIV/AIDS, according to research I reported on when I was the Health Guide at the HealthCentral SZ website.

A More magazine news article years ago reported that a significant number of women over 40 develop HIV/AIDS. If I remember right the statistic was 1 in 4 women over 40. They’re not having a guy use condoms, and they’re at higher risk.

I’ll end here with what I think makes sense:

If you have to take SZ medication, or thyroid pills, or whatever you have to take, do this to have a better life at 40 and beyond. You shouldn’t have to be in any more mental, physical, or emotional pain than is absolutely necessary.

A therapist told me years ago: “Suffering for the sake of suffering is bullshit.”

In coming blog entries I’ll feature a guest blogger–a guy who’s a peer in his fifties–to talk about mid life from a male perspective.

I’ll report more about the female view of mid life in the coming months.

Rude Coworkers

I want to talk about the topic of rude coworkers. I might have talked about it before.

The November issue of Elle women’s magazine has an interesting feature about workplace dynamics between men and women.

The bottom line is: I’ve found from real life experience that there’s very little you can do about rude coworkers.

In effect management turns a blind eye to how people treat each other in the workplace.

You can’t tattle on your coworker like you’re a kid ratting out another kid to your teacher. It doesn’t work that way in the world of work.

The November issue of Elle reported on male coworkers who reported to a female boss. Yet instead of giving her their work directly they went above her head to the male supervisor.

I just don’t get this: how a lot of people in America seem to be only in it for themselves in how they interact with other people.

I used to say that you should limit your involvement with rude coworkers.

Yet unfortunately this particular coworker might call the shots where you work.

It also comes down not only to gender in terms of how a woman might be treated on the job.

It comes down to whether your mental health diagnosis is out in the open where you work.

For this alone I don’t recommend disclosure on the job.

I would say: be professional. Stand your ground. Be polite. If you show you can’t be rattled, the rude coworker just might give up. They might give up when they see it’s not worth their effort to be rude because it’s not getting a rise out of you.

Often, people act that way to get a rise out of another person. Yet when they see they can’t get a rise out of you that might just deflate their efforts.

My experience is that I’ve been the victim of verbal abuse in the workplace.

The manager wouldn’t do anything about it. That’s been my experience: you’re left on your own to bear the brunt of a coworker’s rudeness.

Perhaps some of what I’ve said in here will make sense.

I recommend female readers buy a copy of the November issue of Elle to read about various types of workplace dynamics.

The magazine also had an interesting article about mentoring.

Doing Lunch with a Coworker

I’d like to talk about doing lunch with a coworker.

It’s a social exercise that can be awkward when you’re starting out after getting your first job.

The drawback is having to be “on” even when you feel like you’re not up to conversing fluently.

Some observations might help:

Simply observing manners will buy you time.

It benefits us to take careful bites and place the fork down before taking another bite. Pausing between forkfuls or between bites of a sandwich will give you time to plan what you want to say.

Thinking through your response will help you choose your words carefully too.

It’s also a good segue because you have time to actively listen to what the other person is saying without interrupting. Waiting your turn to speak is a great social habit.

Years ago–too long ago to count–I bought the Kate Spade book Manners.

Checking out of the library a modern etiquette book could be a great strategy after you’ve been made a job offer and accepted it.

For us ladies I recommend the Michelle Phan book Makeup: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success Online and Off.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about another way to arm yourself for success on the job.

This could most of all benefit first-time job seekers.

 

Choosing Goals

It’s clear to me that you and I won’t succeed if we succumb to thinking we have to do what other people tell us is the only right thing to do.

It’s 2017 and we have more and better options for living in recovery.

You’re only going to make yourself miserable and have ill health pretending to be someone you’re not just so you can please other people.

We should not be puppets–either of our government or of anyone else who attempts to pull the strings to get us to conform to a so-called norm.

We will only succeed if we are invested in the goals we set and have the starring role in deciding what we want to do with our lives.

When a person says another person has a ton of self-determination that really means that this individual had the courage to go after getting what they wanted without being deterred by whatever obstacle they faced.

Self-determination sounds like a fancy word however as I define it it’s simply the right of everyone living on earth to determine how they want to live their life and the direction they want to go in in their life.

No other person should be telling us what to do without soliciting our feedback on this course of action. Any treatment plan needs to be created with our input.

Choosing our goals should be up to us first of all. Yet really we shouldn’t set the bar so high that we can only fail. The dilemma is that historically for people diagnosed with mental health conditions the bar wasn’t set at all. We weren’t expected to be able to do much of anything.

2017 is here. It’s time to challenge this status quo. It’s time to speak out on the things that matter to us.

I say: engaging in goal-seeking behavior can make all the difference in a person’s recovery.

Choose your goals with care and attention. Choose goals that make sense to you.

Getting Real Help

I had a job as the Health Guide for HealthCentral’s schizophrenia website for nine years.

What I wrote for HealthCentral was in the vanguard of mental health reporting. What I wrote was always five years ahead of what other people and organizations were writing about recovery.

Years ago at HealthCentral I would write a series called Family Members Forum. In one of those news article I gave ideas as to how to help a loved one.

Point blank I wrote this: “Ask your loved one: “What do you need me to do right now to help you?”

In this way everyone in society needs to “get with the program” as the expression goes in how they interact with people living with and impacted by a mental illness.

I always wanted people to see me not my pain. Jodi Picoult is quoted: “People are more than the sum total of their disability.”

The producer Mark. R. Weber understands that maybe we can’t end homelessness and we can’t always give a homeless person money. Yet we can stop for a moment to talk to them to ask their name and show we care about them as a human being.

In this way too people need to start breaking bread with those of us who have some kind of mental health challenge. It’s a Catch-22 because a lot of us don’t go around telling people “Hi, I’m so-and-so and I was diagnosed with ______________.”

So a lot of times no one else knows what we’re going through unless we tell them.

What is the solution? Brene Brown wrote about this in her classic book Daring Greatly. We should tell only the people who have earned our trust.

I understand what it’s like to not trust mental health providers.

I had to quite seeing a doctor immediately because of his unprofessional behavior. This is revealed in a humorous scene in my memoir. I fled his office one night and didn’t ever return.

This lack of trust has extended to mental health service providers like state employment agencies for individuals with disabilities.

For at least five years now I’ve realized there was a need in the marketplace for my second book–a one-of-its-kind self-help book.

In September I will start to talk about this book and about a new business I hope to provide to peers linked to this pressing need that has historically gone unfilled.

I ask you: when has any other person asked you: “What would YOU like to do with your life and how can I help you do that?” Instead of telling us: “This is what you should do and there’s no other option only the one I deem appropriate.”

VESID in New York City would send people who were deaf to a printmaking program long after jobs in that field became obsolete. Peers were disillusioned with this state employment services agency for years.

There’s a better way. In this regard I want to start my own peer-owned business to fill this need that has gone unmet. Stay tuned in September for more news about this.

 

Hope Not Handouts

Mark R. Weber is the co-producer of Poverty, Inc.–a documentary about the failure and peril of Developmental Aid to evolving countries.

Tom’s Shoes is one such flawed model that perpetuates donor-recipient dependence. First of all I stopped buying Tom’s Shoes because they stiffen when you get caught wearing them in the rain. They cost at least $65 on the internet after shipping and tax and they fall apart after five months.

If they can’t hold up on New York City pavement: how are the shoes going to hold up for a person in need living through a monsoon that will soak their Tom’s shoes?

And presto–you and I now have another purpose for not buying Tom’s Shoes.

I see in this developmental aid dilemma a link to community mental health systems.

Mark. R. Weber is quoted:

“After all, one of the things we are criticizing is the very idea of the big idea. But if each of us starts by seeing each person and the fullness of who they are, their destiny, their potential trajectory, not simply their lack, then we will start to identify solutions that are much more effective.”    (my italics)

Tom’s Shoes was a Big Idea yet not an effective idea.

I’ve always believed–since 2002 when I started out as a mental health activist–that people can achieve their own version of recovery.

In all my incarnations of this blog I’ve railed against the very mental health staff that claim no one can recover. I’ve been attacked by a so-called international expert who claimed no one can recover. All because I shouted out that most people can recover.

Who wants a handout? I didn’t. I fought to have a better life than the one I was told was the only option: collecting SSDI forever and living in a crack-drug-infested housing complex on the edge of town.

Everyone has potential. Everyone has the right to recover. No one should be told we can’t have our own version of a full and robust life.

For too long mental health staff have reinforced in their patients that recovery is not possible and that we need to depend on them to tell us what we can and can’t do. That’s like failed developmental aid–it does nothing to help us develop our true potential.

My blog too has evolved over the years and years I’ve kept it. It’s evolved in response to my experience working with rude and lazy co-workers. From that I realized that having a job is no valid indicator of a person’s worth–when a robot could do the job better than a lot of people without a mental illness who hold jobs.

What does your version of “a full and robust life” look like? It might or might not include having a job at this point. And that’s not the point.

The point is that everyone has potential. If others can’t see your potential, if others couldn’t see my potential way back in the mists of time, we can’t let that derail us from daring to dream that a better life is possible.

I’m here  not necessarily to “help” people like a misguided developmental aid worker thinks she’s doing. I’m here to be an inspiration.

And as long as I’m here I’ll take up a megaphone to shout louder:

Listen to us and understand us. See who we are apart from our illness.

You and I are human beings. We deserve respect and dignity.

That’s all I’m saying.