In my Queens Library presentation which I gave from memory without reading notes (!) I talked about the 3 factors that enabled me to recover fully: having family support, adhering to treatment by taking medication every day, and using the creative process on and off my librarian job.
To wit I said:
Only by expressing your identity will you thrive in recovery. Your diagnosis does not define you. You define you.
I identify as an Artist. My 5 great joys in life are art, music, fashion, books and writing, and exercise. I’m happiest performing on stage at poetry readings.
Recovery is an act of bravery.
It takes courage to be yourself in a society where there’s a lot of hate and judgment going on.
Yet the only way to live is Your Way.
My failed first career in corporate insurance offices is a testament to how I became ill by squelching my true Self.
Like Pat Deegan expressed peers should have “the dignity of risk and the right to fail” in any arena in our life–even in our careers and our relationships.
I took the risk to have a career that I thought I wanted to have. All along I ignored the subconscious warning signs that I was going down the wrong path.
It took me 7 years followed by 2 years in a law firm office library before I realized I wouldn’t ever be happy and healthy working in a business where I had to button-up my Artist self.
Expressing yourself is an act of bravery too.
I relate to LGBT individuals who were asked to submit to conversion therapy to straighten themselves out.
Early on in my recovery I tried to conform to what was deemed “normal” in society. And I failed miserably in my attempt to be someone else.
I would ask readers: “Why have you been afraid to express yourself?”
Here I am telling you as one peer to another:
You are worthy. You are beautiful.
Show yourself to others. Live out loud. Shine on.
There is no other way to live.