I titled my memoir Left of the Dial to signal having an organic life where a person’s thoughts and feelings are in synch.

As a disc jockey, I read the VU meter to measure the level of sound intensity of the music. If the needle veered to the right in the red, it was too loud. If it was to the left of the dial the sound was in balance.

So too when your thoughts and feelings are noisy and chaotic–veering into the red–that could signal dis-ease. I co-opted the term left of the dial to connote that you can have a full and robust life doing what gives you joy. And that doing what you love is the way to achieve optimal mental health.

A book I’m reading corroborates what I’ve been writing about all along. The Carolyn Myss book Archetypes lists the features of the 10 primary archetypes. I’m all for honoring and nurturing everyone’s archetype(s) so that each of us can live a happy, healthy life.

Too often we convince ourselves to do or not do something and this could restrict us and make us ill. These are the “myths” the author talks about for each archetype. Failing to live up to your archetype can cause illness and dis-ease.

Not surprisingly I discovered I’m a Fashionista. For this archetype: “beauty and fashion carry projection of your journey of self-empowerment and inner growth to a degree unmatched in any other archetype.”

In Left of the Dial I documented this love of fashion. A couple of reviewers protested this. Yet scratch below the surface and how a person styles herself can be an act of freedom to be our authentic selves.

Myss rightly asserts that discovering your archetype(s) can free you to make the right choices in life–in a career, in a relationship, in how you live and act in the world.

I recommend that you go on the Archtypes website and take the quiz to determine your Top 3. Discovering them and living in tune with them could possibly help shift the needle to the left where everything is in harmony.

It’s a fascinating study and it appears eerily accurate just like the personality type quiz and other self-assessment measurements that are out there on the Internet–like the Kolbe A Index and the CareerMatchmaker I talked about in the Flourish blog.

I’m all for using these kinds of tools that can help a person in recovery live a balanced life of purpose and passion.



Research indicates expressive therapy can help heal PTSD. It can help a person recover from schizophrenia along with medication.

Art music writing yoga–anything expressive–can heal our pain according to a psychiatrist at the educational conference.

That’s how my memoir Left of the Dial differs from the other books in the field: it focuses on self-expression and creativity as the twin engines driving my recovery.

True occasional reviewers weren’t enamored of my focus on makeup and fashion. Yet I wanted to show how this contributed to my recovery along with music and books and writing–all creative arts.

On Saturday you could attend an art therapy session in the early evening at the conference. I chose turquoise construction paper and folded it in half and created an art card. On the back of the card in red bold letters spelled the word HOPE.

I’m an artist as well as a writer. A talent for art runs in my family. I have hanging in my living room a painting “Still Life With Pitcher and Fruit.” I’ve created an art gallery in my hallway.

The reviews of traditional art therapy as a modality have been mixed. Some research indicates it’s only helpful to those of us who like to do art. Yet in 2014 at the APA convention I met an MD who led her poster session on Art Making. I wrote about her findings at HealthCentral back then. She clearly demonstrated that making art had benefits for her patients.

I’m no longer employed at HealthCentral so I’m not going to link to the news articles I published there.

Yet from my own experience I can tell you: art, music, writing, dancing, reading books and engaging in cultural events did help me recover.

It’s something to possibly try out to see if it benefits a person. If it’s not something you like doing or want to pick up long-term: you can try another thing. Like sports. Or baking. Or singing.

As my father so famously told me and I recorded in Left of the Dial: “It doesn’t have to be writing. It can be ballet. You have to do something with your time.”

You can try out more than one thing to figure out what you love to do and want to do.

An author of a book claimed that watching TV was a pleasant activity for people. I abhor watching TV. I turn on the TV only to listen to the weather report before I go outside.

The moral of this story is: to each our own. You might love watching TV and not love painting or sketching.

The expression is: do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Do what you love and your recovery will be enriched.

Creativity and Mental Illness

I wanted to write about creativity and mental illness. About two or three years ago Scandinavian researchers proved a link between the two factors using a registry of citizens that matched their careers with the types of mental illness they had. Overall individuals who worked in creative fields had bipolar or schizophrenia as opposed to those in other fields.

Really I wanted to dramatize in my memoir Left of the Dial that doing what gives you joy can help you heal and have a better life. How when I obtained a job where I could be creative and act cheerful that’s when my recovery and my life took off.

I wanted to make it hip indeed cool to live your life Left of the Dial when you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. “Left of the Dial” as I’ve written in here before has always signaled to me that your symptoms are under control and not raging full-on.

And this can happen when you get the right help right away: the illness can cease to be a big thing. It can become a minor part of your life that doesn’t stop you from doing the things in life that you want to.

I think I’ve been as clear and specific in this blog entry as I can be so I’ll end by repeating this thought:

The schizophrenia doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things in life that you want to.