Rebel Rebel


I’ve installed David Bowie’s song “Rebel Rebel” on my iPod and set the alarm clock to wake me to this song.

Ordinary people in the world aren’t kind to those of us who rebel.

Early on in my life I rebelled the role of “mental patient.”

Thirty years later I tell you readers that living a counterfeit life is a mistake.

It comes down to being okay with not conforming to what has been designated as the norm in society.

Yet why do people think they have the right to brand others as–at worst “crazy”–and at best not normal? This intrigues me that most people fall in line to wanting to be normal or have a normal life–and expect others to follow suit.

I ask you: Is normal what it’s cracked up to be? I think not.

If you ask me there’s no safety in numbers–you’re just numbing your individuality to please people who won’t accept your true self.

I have thought often about the futility of seeking other people’s approval for who you are and how you live your life.

Way back in the 1970s David Bowie sung about how the girl’s mother didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl.

The lyrics about the torn dress; the face a mess–and how the young girl was there when the dues were counted out– it all reminds me of the story I told in Left of the Dial.

If you ask me “Rebel Rebel” is the perfect anthem for self-expression of bold stripes and of any stripe.

My high school art teacher told us that successful composition requires “unity with diversity.” That’s a great credo for the world right now.

God made us individuals. He thinks we’re divine just the way we are. We aren’t  supposed to be mirror images of each other.

“Rebel Rebel” was prophetic in its message:

That you can only be a success if you dare to be yourself.

Living Out Loud


I’ve chosen this blog entry’s photo to make a statement.

Now with Mr. Toupee endorsing the denial of women’s rights and human rights I’ve struggled with how to make sense of the hate in the world that has risen up.

It’s always true that in order to love other people you first have to love yourself.

For those of us who’ve always felt different the truth is most likely we ARE different.

How can we come to terms with the hate in the world right now?

I’ve figured out a solution that is simple, effective, and oh-so-easy to execute right now:

We must stand up for ourselves and refuse to take a backseat.

I figured out that dressing in fashion can be a political act too.

We can create the person we want to become by dressing the part.

I for one think boycotting Ivanka Trump products and her fashion line is called for.

Dressing in a way that stands out is a way to rebel the hate that has become standard operating procedure in so much of society.

Dressing in a way that pleases ourselves first of all is the ultimate way to take charge of our destiny.

What better way to stand up for ourselves than to stand out walking down the street?

It signals that you can’t be messed with when you’re making a fashion statement.

Pastels? Muted colors? I just say no to all that. First of all because of my dramatic Mediterranean features.

The premise of titling my memoir Left of the Dial was also because blending in doesn’t really get a person very far.

Conforming to how other people expect you to live and act and dress at the expense of your own happiness is the surefire route to ill health.

I say: dare to be different and do your own thing. You’ll be a lot happier and healthier.

You and I should not live in fear of having our rights taken away.

I’ve decided I might join a protest at some point.

The antidote to this ongoing hate is self-acceptance. Once we can be happy with who we are and like ourselves it won’t matter what other people think of us.

The time now is to get up and stand up for our rights.

The very act of living in recovery is in itself a political act.

To speak the truth to power and say:

I’m not going away. I’m not going to join you in accepting hate as a lifestyle option. I’m not going to accept ill treatment.

Emile Zola is quoted:

“If you asked me what I came into this world to do–I would tell you–I came to live out loud.”

Live out loud.

That’s an effective strategy for combating hate.

Simply by walking down the street with our heads held high we can effect positive change.





Dare to Be You


Years ago for my birthday my dear friend gave me this card.

I wonder about the mental and physical toll of bottling up who you are–and bottling up the truth about the illness. Stuffing down your feelings can’t be healthy because one day the lid will pop off and they’ll explode.

So much has been written about how churches try to convert gay individuals to acting as heterosexuals. Yet I might be the first person to write about the folly of squelching your personality when you have a mental health diagnosis.

Pretending to be someone you’re not over the long-term only leads to illness.

Yet it’s a mistake to conflate temperament with symptoms. For a lot of people with mental health conditions though we do worry about betraying our illness to others in how we act–especially if we have jobs and degrees.

As a professional told me years ago:

“When you’re high-functioning you’re aware that you’re different so the pain is greater.”

Really, if you have anosognosia thus don’t think you’re sick why would you be ashamed to think the CIA is after you? You wouldn’t. You’d be oblivious to the slings and arrows of stigma.

As a woman put it to me: “At home and outside–with friends and family–I can be myself and don’t have a filter. Yet who am I supposed to be at work?”

I’m writing about these things because no one else is and someone has to.

In the end the ethic of my memoir Left of the Dial boils down to this:

Dare to Be You–and you’ll be happier and healthier.


Merci – Thank You – Grazie

A mille grazie to everyone who’s posted book reviews on Amazon. A thousand thanks.

Left of the Dial is my story–I had no other story to tell.

I had long wanted to talk about other things in an SZ book–not dwell on symptoms and hell. I’m confident that it’s possible to have a hard life that is also a great life.

Plenty of bloggers talk over and over about what it’s like to be bombarded with pain. At HealthCentral years ago when I was the Health Guide there I wrote in detail about symptoms and treatment options.

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

My perpetual point exactly is that getting the right help right away can halt the progression of illness–it can halt disability.

And my other point was to see the person in each of us first and to write characters that were original–not cardboard; not described in terms of their lack or deficits.

On the inside I will always be a rocker chic kind of girl and I wanted this passion to shine through in the memoir.

Elyn Saks was the first person with SZ to talk in her book about a career–she’s a law professor who joked that her department should have endowed her with a couch not a Chair.

I did not and would not and could not write what in the publishing industry is termed a “misery memoir.” I call these “hell-and-heartache” books.

There is often going to be some kind of hell at some point in our lives. The point is to understand how we can use that hell to transform our lives into something better.

Each day that we wake up that God has given us is the chance to do whatever we can to make our lives better.

I’ll end here by telling readers what I wrote at HealthCentral years ago:

Give yourself what I call a “lifeline” in which to achieve your goals not a deadline.

Recovery is the gift of a lifetime that we give ourselves in which to achieve self-growth.

Sagra del Libro

I sold copies of Left of the Dial at the Italian American Sagra del Libro or sale of the book.

It was early so I ducked into Angelo’s of Mulberry Street.

“Soltanto uno,” I told the white coat waiter. “Only me.”

“To drink?” He ushered me to a table.

“Aqua.” I unwrapped my thick pink boucle scarf and eased out of my coat.

CNN was playing on a TV on the ceiling. I ordered the mezza luna and escarole.

The waiter asked: “Italiano?” “Si,” I told him.

“Dove?” he asked. “Sicily. Naples.” I said. He shook his head.

“Calabria,” I continued. “Mi paesan!” He smiled.

Doppo cena / after supper I bought a pink scarf from a street vendor with the ubiquitous “cashmere” label even though it’s not likely cashmere for $5.

I was the first to read at the Sagra open reading. I read the Chills concert scene from the memoir.

You know it’s too cold when you wear the new scarf inside the coat and the old scarf outside the collar.

Spring is here in three weeks so hopefully the cold will be another season’s memory soon.

The event was filmed so stay tuned for where you can view the video where I’m reading from the book.

Mille grazie to all who stopped by.


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.


Flamed Out

Is it time to move beyond the concept of “difference” as a defining factor in a person’s life? Yes: I think now of celebrating the common like meeting at the Commons–a public park in Boston–where everyone shares space.

We all share space on Earth–on one hand we can embrace difference yet on the other I say isn’t it time to worship the invisible threads that connect human beings.

How most of us want to love and be loved; how all of us hurt and have pain; how we all experience joy.

I want to write about these invisible threads.

Why do so many of us feel like we’re different? Who else is the barometer of “normal” that we’re looking at and deeming ourselves to be different from?

Popular media glorifies same-ness. it celebrates what’s accepted and shuts out the individual.

I’ve championed going on over nine years in my blogging that a person does their own thing and does their own think.

We are individuals. It’s time to rejoice in our beauty.

The Saturday night entertainment at the educational conference was the band Flame. I bought their CD with the song “Someone Like You.”

One rain-haired woman danced and shook a musical stick.

The lead singer started off with “Brown-Eyed Girl.”

They are a professional band. I urge you to go on the Flame website and see and hear the beauty.

Living an Organic Life

One definition of organic is “denoting a relation between elements of something such that they fit together as parts of a whole.”

This is what I’m referring to in the Mission Statement link on my author website. Living an organic life is the true premise of Left of the Dial: where our thoughts and feelings, actions and values are aligned and in balance.

I’m interested in how elements fit together as part of a whole. The goal as I see it in recovery is to be whole and well. You can have a full and robust life.

In this regard I don’t discount that a lot of times a person’s life is changed forever after they’re diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia or another mental illness. Yet here too life can be beautiful even though it’s hard.

The goal as I see it too is to find what gives you joy and satisfaction and go do that as long as it’s healthy.

One thing I firmly believe: it’s not the enormity or severity of a challenge that determines a person’s fate but how they respond to that challenge. It’s possible to find pockets of joy even though a person struggles or is in pain.

In this regard I have been famously assailed because of my love of fashion and makeup. Yet I can tell you without a doubt that my interest in fashion was one of the prime factors that helped me do better in my recovery.

For you it might be painting or sketching. For another person it might be hiking a mountain trail.

The point is it’s interesting to me how these elements come together in an organic way. And when our lives are out of balance it’s often because we’re caught up in busywork that is out of synch with who we are.

I will write in here about my theory on this next week.

See Who We Are

X had a song in the 1990s titled “See Who We Are.”

I’m a mental health activist because I couldn’t accept “business as usual” and the poor treatment of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

At first I wanted to be known as a schizophrenia expert and now I prefer the term mental health activist.

It’s because I’ve become wary of the assumptions masquerading as facts that are parroted by so-called experts.

Like that of an “internationally recognized expert” on mental health who regurgitated that no one with schizophrenia could recover. She didn’t go beyond that to give techniques that would help people recover. She didn’t give any ideas she had about how to change the broken-down mental health system. She simply kept stating over and over the same bleak information on schizophrenia recovery that gives no one hope.

I make the case for not stereotyping others. For not assuming things about other people based on how they look, or what kind of diagnosis or other “thing” they have. I challenge that expert to buy one of the homeless people with schizophrenia a hot chocolate on a cold winter day. Instead of writing a news article stating the obvious and not offering a solution for helping individuals with untreated mental illness that go homeless.

To truly see how another person is inside where it counts is a gift each of us should hone. Remember: no human being is a statistic. Take time to see and observe others. Break bread with people who are different from you.

Difference is beautiful. That in the end is why I titled my memoir Left of the Dial: to encourage people to celebrate their difference. To narrate the story arc of the life of a quirky, creative young girl.

Let’s face it: a lot of us have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Yet rather than deny this or get spooked by it, we owe it to ourselves to accept the diagnosis. It’s a part of our lives. Yet with good medication, therapy as needed, a fitness routine, and a support team, it is no longer a big part of our lives: it’s just something we have, no more than that.

I titled my memoir Left of the Dial because I wrote about music, fashion, books, and friendships. I wanted my book to be about a happy life lived in harmony even with ongoing hardship.

I implore everyone reading this blog who is an outsider, who does not have a mental illness:

See who we are.

There’s a human being experiencing this pain. We’re not nameless faceless shells. Our illness is not the sum total of who we are. We have real lives. We have hopes and dreams and needs and fears and feelings just like everyone does.

See who we are.

VU Meter

I’ve been thinking about my VU meter analogy and the significance of living your life left of the dial: with your feelings and thoughts in balance and everything on an even keel.

A person shouldn’t have to spend days and days and even weeks and weeks depressed or otherwise symptomatic.

Yet one think (er-thing) I’ll talk about here this winter is knowing when to rest and when to get active.

Sometimes we all need to rest for a day here and there. I’m fond of living in a city where there are four seasons: I have the chance to acclimate my body to nature and the changing weather.

I’m the biggest foe of climate change and the rising sea levels and the erosion of marshland and other economically damaging man-made phenomena.

I advocate for getting in tune with the seasons, with the natural world, with living by a park or by greenery if you’re able.

I’m all for whatever effective techniques a person can use to lower the distortion on the VU meter. I champion the natural world that is fast disappearing as money-grubbing agribusinesses and food conglomerates put profits above people.

Illness is not a natural state of being. And all sorts of illnesses are on the rise because companies are in the business of selling fake food.

Ironically, as our natural resources get ravaged, I think too our personal resources become limited.

As cold as it gets in New York City in the winter now I make the case for hibernating when it’s necessary.

I maintain though that lowering the volume on the VU meter can help us live our lives in balance.

The interconnected nature of all these elements I’m talking about is no accident.

I’d love to hear your comments on this.