Setting Goals

It can be hard to envision a sunny day coming when you’ve experienced a setback like living through this pandemic.

This is where setting goals can help you.

After things get better there is so much life for you to live. It pays to be future-minded.

I am an optimist. That is why I recovered. I believed that my future would be better.

I have always seen possibility where others see pain.

My recommendation is to get out a notebook and write down a goal you would like to achieve once things return to normal.

Fixing that goal in your conscious mind can empower you in your recovery.

With this purpose for what you want to do visible in print it can motivate you to do what it takes to make healthy choices today.

On the cable TV news the announcer reported that addiction and alcoholism have gone up during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ask yourself: what can you do to bring yourself closer to achieving the goal?

Over and over wherever I’m writing anything I write about goal-setting I champion reading the book:

Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

This book I installed on my iPad. It has been instrumental in helping me achieve numerous goals.

In the coming blog entry I want to talk about woodshedding.

It’s a concept whose time has come for a review in light of the setback everyone’s experiencing living through the pandemic.

Asking What If? and Why Not?

I turn 55 this spring. As I roll towards 60 and in light of the ongoing pandemic I’ve been thinking about my life and my goals. I’m not a person who expects most outsiders and even some family members to understand how hard it can be living in recovery.

Disability rights advocates frown on using the word “courageous” to describe how a person negotiates living with an illness.

I think courageous is the right word to use. It’s brave to demand equity in society when you have a mental health condition. The alternative is giving up hope and believing the lies we’re told about recovery not being possible.

I understand the need to fight to be taken seriously when you have an emotional illness.

I understand what it’s like to be given crumbs from the table passed off as nutritious food.

I understand that making your voice heard can be scary.

It’s only scary if you seek other people’s approval. It’s frightening to live in a world where you’re not given compassion.

Thus my claim years ago that people living in recovery deserve a Nobel Prize for the efforts we make to live life whole and well.

As an Author and Advocate I frame any premise for what I write in terms of asking these two questions:

“What if?” and “Why Not?”

Each of us should be asking ourselves “What if?” and “Why not?” as we start to set goals and embark on achieving them.

In the next blog entry I’ll begin talking about goal setting.

Awarding a Nobel Prize for Recovery

In September 2015 I ended my job as the Health Guide for a mental health website.

While I had been there easily over 9 years ago I wrote in a news article that there should be some kind of Nobel Prize given out for people living in recovery.

At that time the editorial team of the website posted this gem of advice:

“The only real failure is the failure to try.”

I think they might have stolen that from something I wrote.

How audacious it was to tell people diagnosed with schizophrenia this.

I riffed on this premise in a news article there.

I wrote that trying can be as simple as getting out of bed.

Or cooking yourself a meal. Or taking a shower.

That’s when I lauded the courage it takes readers living in recovery to set goals and to try to reach them.

In a world where outsiders and haters to this day persist in claiming that no one can recover.

I would like to start a carnival of blog entries here on the topic of recovery.

It’s more imperative than ever in the time of living through this pandemic to support those of us who are in recovery.

For some of us every day is a struggle. For others the war has been won.

In the spirit of spreading joy, love, peace, and understanding I will talk in coming blog entries about the beauty and benefit of choosing recovery as a life goal to shoot for.

And remember: you do not have to be in remission to recover.

Having a “Normal” Life

I want to riff on where I left off in the last blog entry.

I always thought recovery must be self-defined.

In the 1990s I had a “normal” life with a corporate office job and an apartment. So on paper it looked like I had recovered.

Only I don’t think I had a better life until I turned 35 and started working as a librarian.

Proof that you can be in remission yet not have the kind of life you wanted to have until later on.

In this regard I don’t view recovery as the return to having a so-called “normal” life.

The Merriam-Webster definition of normal is:

Of or having ordinary or average intelligence; conforming to a standard or type; free of mental defect.

Does being average and conforming appeal to you? More power to you should it float you to be normal.

I always wanted to have “an artist’s life in the city.” That was my one true goal when I was in college

Often those of us with broken brains take a detour before coming to be where we want to be.

Thus I’m not keen to accept returning to having a “normal” life as the hallmark of whether a person has recovered.

Isn’t it a relief to know this?

Isn’t it more hopeful to know that you don’t have to fit a mold of what constitutes success?

That you and I can go our merry way having a life of our own design.

As the saying goes:

Sometimes the best raspberries come late in the season.

Recovery and Remission

My stance is that you must decide for yourself with your own psychiatrist how you feel about where you are in your life.

Refrain from letting a so-called expert who hasn’t met you dare presume to diagnose a person from afar.

In this regard I’ve always taken E. Fuller Torrey, MD to task. This author of Surviving Schizophrenia claims a person who has a job or a spouse hasn’t recovered.

In his eyes you haven’t recovered unless you don’t need medication. I fear he is using the term recovery interchangeably with remission.

In his book he lists the statistics for what percentage of people recover. This is where E. Fuller Torrey claims a person hasn’t recovered even when they have a job or a spouse.

The fact is you can be in recovery and still have symptoms. People who have symptoms can hold a job or be married.

Does this mean you haven’t recovered simply because you still take medication?

I beg to differ for one strong reason: a significant number of people go without treatment before they get help.

We should not discourage such a person from making recovery a life goal worth shooting for. Even if they cannot get to being in remission.

I’ll end here by reiterating that you have the right to set goals with your psychiatrist and other treatment team members.

Only you and the mental health staff that you employ to serve you should be deciding whether you’ve recovered or not.

Giving Americans a Universal Basic Income

The person who would’ve had my vote in the Democratic primary was Andrew Yang.

Alas, he dropped out a couple months ago.

Yang had a solid plan for giving every American citizen a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 per month.

His campaign website had detailed where the money would come from and how it would be paid out.

In countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world the government gives people a Universal Basic Income.

The Yang website countered the detractors of a Universal Basic Income. Andrew Yang detailed the benefits of giving everyone this guaranteed cash.

I’m in favor of giving American citizens a Universal Basic Income.

Like Yang foresees I don’t think the jobs lost to computer intelligence are coming back.

And we cannot fault individuals who are unemployed or underemployed. It’s not always their doing that they can’t get a job or hold a job long-term.

Detractors claimed people would use the Universal Basic Income to buy street drugs and alcohol.

Who are they kidding. I see no reason why the government can’t give every citizen $1,000 per month.

The fact as I see it is that in my estimation 90 percent of Americans would put the money to use feeding and clothing themselves without having to go into debt.

A Universal Basic Income could help workers that constitute the “working poor”–people who have jobs yet might live in homeless shelters because they can’t pay rent.

A Universal Basic Income would enable people living in recovery to see a therapist of their own choosing.

A Universal Basic Income would give people living in recovery the cash to pay their psychiatrist. [Most shrinks don’t take insurance round here and elsewhere.]

A Universal Basic Income is something to think about.

It should be kept on the table with the candidates remaining in the coming presidential election.

In the next blog entry I will return to talking about recovery.

Getting Money in the Crisis

For those of you who are employed and not at your job in this time of the COVID-19 outbreak I would like to tell you some good news:

The government has signed into law an Act that will give people money for having been impacted in this dire economic time.

If I remember those of us who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 will be given money.

It will be directly deposited into your bank account on file with the IRS.

If your account isn’t on file you will have to submit the claim yourself to get the funds.

It’s a tidy sum of money I can tell you.

The government has been generous. The amount of money you receive might be based on what your paycheck used to be.

Get what you deserve. Log online to check your account. Research if you’re entitled to the money and need to submit the claim yourself.

Either way it’s a tidy sum of free money.

In a coming blog entry I’m going to talk about the concept of giving every American a Universal Basic Income.

A Universal Basic Income is a financial security net whose time has come.

Making the Case for Recovery

It can be hard post-diagnosis to believe that things can get better.

In a time of living through this pandemic it can be doubly hard to manage your recovery and have hope.

I make the case for having hope coupled with taking action.

To do what is safe while the COVID-19 outbreak is upon us.

Again I recommend staying in contact with friends and family and any neighbors you can count on via the telephone or on ZOOM on the computer.

This is a time that everyone will benefit from having compassion for ourselves and others.

The world has changed. We cannot go on the way it was before.

It’s more imperative than ever to work together to champion recovery as the goal after a person gets a diagnosis.

It’s time to find solutions to be able to fix the broken mental health system once and for all.

The day has come to recognize just how hard it can be living in recovery.

To act in the spirit of wanting to lighten this load.

The pandemic will end. It might not end soon.

This is all the more reason to renew our efforts to champion recovery for everyone post-diagnosis.

Love Must Win

Having an Attitude of Gratitude makes all the difference in a time of crisis.

My refrigerator is more stocked with food now than it was before the COVID-19 outbreak.

I’m grateful for my good fortune.

In this time of hardship a friend told me to remember all that I’m doing to give joy to people who read my writing.

Life is bigger than your pain. Find what your purpose is for being here. Going and doing that can help you transmute your pain into something positive.

Early on in my recovery I wanted to turn my pain into a thing of beauty for other people.

Even though a lot of us and most likely a significant number of us are sheltering in place we are all together in this changed world.

It’s time to think of how we want to live and what we want to do after each of us returns to going outdoors.

Egotism and bigotry must not prevail.

It’s 2020.

Too late in the history of humankind to continue to engage in hate, killing, violence, and war.

War is not the solution.

Won’t you join me in committing to shifting the needle to the left of the dial after the pandemic has ended?

Today is the day to think of the day we’re going to return outside.

We can each of us decide to love.

Love wins. It always does.

Using an Employee Assistance Program

At a health conference I heard a woman talk about how the pressures of her job caused her so much stress that she cracked.

Before it gets to this point for you investigate whether your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

This is a free benefit you might have as the employee of a company. I have an Employee Assistance Program at my union job.

This service offers links to counseling services and could also give staff members financial help information to manage your money.

In 1991 when I worked at my first job I met with an EAP counselor to talk about finding a support group or group therapy.

Whether the stress you’re experiencing is mild or severe or work-related or caused outside of your job it could benefit you to talk with an EAP counselor.

They can direct you to available therapy and financial options where you live.

Employers benefit when they offer their workers an Employee Assistance Program.

An EAP can boost morale. It can also help staff members get help that helps us lead happier and healthier lives on and off the job.

It’s called an Employee Assistance Program.

Should you need or want this kind of help ask the person in your HR department if your employer offers an EAP.

In a coming blog entry I’ll talk about the findings of a longitudinal study of Sustained Employment Among People with Psychiatric Conditions.

The news is good for getting and keeping a job long-term.