Sunday, May 30, 2010


In drumming up ideas for this blog I decided I would try to be solution focused to show people a way of going from dreaming to doing.

I would like to recommend two techniques that work to help you create the outcome you desire. The first tactic is creative visualization: to rehearse in your mind a day when everything is going the way you want it to turn out.

In keeping with this you can create a vision board with just funky enough images to jar you into thinking about what you want to achieve. The June O magazine talks about this too.

Another tactic is to write down in detail where you see yourself on a certain date in time and to describe everything that has happened in your life by that date.

I know the tide had turned when I wrote in my notebook: The publisher will receive the final copy of my manuscript for Left of the Dial on June 15, 2011. The moment I could envision this happening is when a literary agent expressed an interest in working with me.

Along the line of these two techniques I also recommend writing down a mantra over and over. I have two running alongside each other right now: "I keep my feet on the ground" and "It's so super sunny."

First you must acknowledge where you are now and decide that you can get to where you want to be if you just believe you can. To cast off the self-doubt write such positive phrases in your journal. Write the events down as if they've already happened.

When I was 35 I wrote down that I wanted to become an expert in recovery from schizophrenia and seven years later I was offered the position as the expert blogger for the Connection.

So you see how it goes. Re-read your positive affirmations every day. Carry them on index cards and read them on the train or at the doctor's office or during your lunch hour.

The great thing about setting goals is that you can do it yourself. I was listening to Oasis on the radio with their song "Wonder Wall" and I realized that's what it's like to be your own wonder wall: you can trust you will succeed because you are your own rock.

I would tell you that nobody else can give you what you want you must go out and get it. Nobody can do this for you. It's your recovery and you own your victory.

I was able to save myself using these techniques. That's why I recommend them for other people. I started to tell myself "It's so super sunny" because I borrowed this term from the image of the taxi cab yellow leather slouch bag sold in the Sundance catalog. The sunny color inspired me greatly.

You might be a skeptic. You might not believe that by writing down what you want to happen it will actually come true. I urge you to suspend your disbelief. Try it and you might like what you discover.

Friday I bring my goals binder to Dr. Altman's office to talk to him precisely about my dream for the coming years. That's another thing: I'm sure not many people keep their goals in a binder yet I would tell you to do that and refer to it regularly. Or at least write them down in a spiral-bound notebook or a hardbound journal.

The key is to write down your goals and review them often.

I'd love to hear from readers about your take on this suggestion. What are some techniques you use to set goals?

I will use this blog entry to create a Question of the Month at the Connection so look for it in August. The June question will be about therapy and the July question will be about creativity and mental health. So surf on over to read those SharePosts and the comments people give in response to the questions.

Right now I will ask you: how can you not believe it's so super sunny if that is the energy you put out there in the world?

It begins with the words we put into our head.

You don't have to be a natural optimist either to take advantage of these techniques. The term "act as if" describes this tactic. In other words you fake it till you make it. The words you put in your head will influence your behavior. So given the choice wouldn't you rather act as if you were capable of succeeding as the precursor to achieving your goal instead of giving in to the self-doubt?

You see.

Yes indeed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fortune Cookie Blues


The chocolate brioche pudding with caramel ice cream.

Too late I realized I should have offered to buy my friend the Buffalo jeans he coveted. I could have treated him. Feel like such a heel now that it didn't occur to me until after he drove me home. He would look good in those jeans.

Instead I'm rattling through the night in my own way: listening to the rock-n-roll radio and browsing the Sundance catalog Web site. It's like a hobby now.

You'll see I've edited the other blogs I link to on the right. I want JM to be as uncluttered as possible. I hope you enjoy stopping by.

It is a good night of good fortune.

I'm reminded of a wise lyric to the effect that nobody can hurt you unless you let them hurt you. I doubt it would be far off for me to tell you people with schizophrenia are more sensitive than others. We cannot go against this sensitivity and must use it in a positive way: channel it into compassion for ourselves and others in the world.

So tonight's fortune would be that I understand there are two sides to the coin of living with SZ: we can crack open a hopeful message when we use our talents to recover. This is how I see it: you can recover. You can do great things for yourself as well as for others. It is not selfish to want to better yourself.

Today I picked up the Style A to Zoe book to have on hand. I will tell you now and I would tell you a week from Tuesday that surely dressing well enabled me to recover. I used my love of fashion to create a persona that meshed with who I am.

That is the way you smash the stereotype of someone diagnosed with schizophrenia: you live true. I framed a green greeting card with a fortune cookie print out of which a fortune read: Who cares what everyone else thinks. Be true to yourself. This is my life's motto. It is the only way a person can truly be happy: to live in sync with her self.

You will only be miserable trying to be someone you're not. I have a failed business career that proves this and one failed romance with a guy who thought normal was the holy grail. I felt normal's overrated and was glad when we went our separate ways. Just the word normal rubs me the wrong way.

As AC touts in her blog: "Let's put normal on the shelf and give different a fighting chance."

Possibly a lot of us fear being ourselves because we fear others will reject us if we don't fit in to some kind of mold. I was aware as early as 11 years old that I wasn't like the other girls in the neighborhood. You can resist your nature yet you do so at your own risk to your mental health.

Log on to my Twitter account that I link to on the right and you will see that the latest news touts the link between creativity and schizophrenia. There is proof now that people with schizophrenia tend to be more creative than other people. A reference was made to Dali who was eccentric.

This accounts for my love of the unusual music and clothes when I was younger. It lets slip that maybe you could think you're different precisely because you are different in some important ways starting with your D2 receptor.

This solidifies my dream of wanting to publish fiction and be a writer not a social worker in the coming years. Look for a SharePost at the Connection on this topic of creativity and schizophrenia to post in early July for some summer reading.

D. told me once: "We have a different way of seeing things" and I have no doubt this is true. It comes down to how information flows through our brains and how we process it and synthesize it and turn it back out to solve problems.

The more you educate yourself the better you will feel about your prospects living with SZ. That's how I see it because reading about this link allowed me to once and for all resolve that hey: it's okay to be different.

For too long first coming up in recovery I was in denial that I could be sick because I was embarrassed to have schizophrenia. I felt guilty and ashamed because there was a negative connotation to someone diagnosed with this condition.

Only now: I see that there can be no shame when you live true to yourself.

So I urge you to reconsider everything you think you know about what it's like to live with schizophrenia. Define yourself. Decide how you want to live and hold your hope up as a lantern on the long road ahead.

Recovery is about the journey not the destination. Be where you are now. Know that tomorrow you could be in a different place. Nothing in life is permanent. You can rest easy knowing that you can trust yourself to be your own rock.

So express yourself. Be creative. Be yourself.

Just be.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Twitter is like a new toy.

I much prefer it to Facebook right now although early in the new year I expect to have a Facebook fan page.

The short nature of Tweets I love to sprint through. I follow Real Simple magazine and download their recipes that way. The turkey salad with tomato, avocado and parmesan I'm going to try next weekend. It looks easy and healthful.

Another recipe I'd like to create is a caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes. It's from the Mario Batali cookbook Molto Gusto. This would be good for lunch some day.

I have the opposite problem of most people with SZ: I don't feel like eating. I was lucky the Geodon worked. Tonight I ordered vegetables for dinner: imagine that.

This is the life: I can't wonder what might have been. You do the best you can with what you're given. Strive to do one thing each day to bring you closer to a goal.

You can get there from here. You just need to believe it's possible.

Always do the things that give you joy.

I found an interesting book on fashion called Style from A to Zoe. It was written by Rachel Zoe a stylist to celebrities. She is entirely too much yet the book gives some good advice so I ordered it from an independent bookshop to buy and keep in my own library.

Along with the fashion spin I want to resurrect Recipe Night once a week. The Mario Batali cookbook includes recipes for pizza that I want to try too.

Folks: I took down the Nelson Mandala quote and all the other clutter on JM to give it a more Zen appearance though of course it's not quite Zen or peaceful there's most likely an energy here. To simplify I added a short link to my Twitter account and deleted the GoodReads sidebar.

This blog is evolving as I go along so I hope you enjoy the ride.

The earrings arrived in the mail and I like them so I'm going to wear them tomorrow when I go to the Thai restaurant. I'm totally off the wall in my love of jewelry so I've put the caboose on my spending. For now. It's too much. This is what will happen come a joyous April 15.

I had this talk with someone: how doing good and making money can go together like a washing machine and Tide. We believe changing the world can be an activity that is an economic engine. That's the premise of Fair Trade and locally owned cooperatives in a place like Africa. The example I will give you is the hand woven basket that a woman in Ghana created that I bought at the holiday fair in the City.

We spoke of how people with mental illnesses have for too long been victimized in society. Along with that I know someone who steals fruit because he can't afford to buy it on his SSD check. Where's the justice? It is time to change things.

This is why I would not ever feel threatened by a peer who wanted to change her life for the better and took action to make that happen. People can and do have the right to bring themselves up in the world. You are not a sell out when you dare to go down this road. I only wish more people had this courage to challenge the status quo.

Does this matter to me? You bet it matters to me. If you can't afford fruit what kind of a life is that? Nobody diagnosed with a mental illness deserves the abuse she gets either.

The guy I spoke with told me a story. It steamed me and it upset him so we had to change the topic. All I can tell you is this: people with schizophrenia are more likely to be the victims of crime not the ones who commit crimes.

So when I go off-topic and talk about my interests and hobbies it is because they are important to me too. I would not be the same person had I not been diagnosed with schizophrenia. First you're angry. Then you get even. By taking your meds you show the schizophrenia who's the boss.

It's a power thing really: that's the bottom line. People with mental illnesses traditionally have been rendered powerless to have a say in their own lives. We take back control by envisioning the kind of life we want to live and doing one thing each day to move towards getting there.

Most people can recover from schizophrenia. At this point the question becomes: how big our sky?

In seventh grade there was a question in my science textbook that asked: "How far is up?" It occurred to me right then that up is as far as you can go.

In other words: shoot for the stars because you can always settle for the moon.

There's no shame in striving to better yourself. As a friend told me: "Your dreams are not dirty: they're natural and they're normal."

To those about to dream I salute you.

Do you see? Do you see what I'm saying?

It is 12:15 am by my computer clock and I fear I'm going to be up all night if I continue this blog entry.

Surely you understand? I hope so.

Now let me go sign off and wind down.


Thursday, May 27, 2010


Good morning.

I've read a book that I want to recommend: The Everything Health Guide to Schizophrenia. It's billed as the latest information on treatment, medication, and coping strategies. Chapters detail warning signs, symptoms, causes, types of schizophrenia, treatment options, medication, what you can do to aid recovery and success stories. It is under 300 pages and the size of a small hardbound journal. It is one of the most practical and hopeful guides that I've read about this medical condition.

You can read it at home. You can take it on the train. You can read it waiting in your psychiatrist's office. It's supposed to be for caregivers yet don't let that dissuade you from reading the book as it is equally useful for those of us diagnosed with SZ.

The author is Dean A. Haycock PhD. He talks about cognitive therapy too. The Chapter on What You Can Do to Aid Recovery is helpful for caregivers and provides clear advice for helping your loved one set goals and rise above the stigma that exists even today.

It really is a caregiver's book however I wouldn't rule out reading it yourself or recommending it to someone who does have a loved one diagnosed with schizophrenia. It's a useful first guide to helping your loved one or helping yourself.


I have been up since the early morning light.

I've decided to focus in JM on the schizophrenia with a twist: do it in my own way.

One thing I've talked with another woman about is the need to develop friendships when you have SZ. That seems so simple. I would also recommend volunteer work or paid employment or going to school to educate yourself so you can get a job or for self-improvement. It was said that people diagnosed with this condition need job coaches who can help them navigate the world of work. Truly I had to do this on my own because at the time I obtained my first job I had no support and no friends who were also working at a full-time job.

So friendships become the first line of defense in living with SZ and you branch out to volunteer work or work or school. I also cannot stress the benefit of living independently if you can function well enough to do this. In The Everything Health Guide to Schizophrenia it suggested you set goals that enable you to function like taking showers or cooking dinner.

Only a car goes from 0 to 60 in three seconds. I know from firsthand experience that in the early years of your recovery you will often make modest gains not achieve daring feats. You will not go from 0 to 60 in your recovery within three months or even three years. I would tell you to give yourself the gift of a lifetime in which to recover.

I can tell you this because it took me 20 years to get to this point. So I urge you to keep hopeful. I do believe things get better with time. In April 2007 I started taking the Geodon and within three days I noticed a great improvement and three years later I had better results.

So you start out with the premise that recovery is not quick and it is not easy. I've outlined my ideas about the process of setting three-year treatment goals in a SharePost at SchizophreniaConnection. I feel three years is an ideal time frame for this kind of thing. Some goals will take longer and others you will achieve sooner yet three years is realistic and generous for most goals if you ask me. Always attach a completion date to a goal and know that this date can be changed in the future if you approach it without any success.

Here's the link to setting treatment goals: and the one to measuring recovery gains:

Even though the woman quibbled about how friendships are given the most importance as a tool for recovering from schizophrenia I believe this is at least the second most important tool. The first order of the day after you are diagnosed with schizophrenia is to boost your functioning. My number-one tool for recovery was finding the job I love and I recommend this to you as a possible treatment goal that will change your life dramatically.

This is about all I want to write about right now as I have to attend to things in the apartment.

One last thing I will say: I find it interesting how the Sundance catalog markets its products. I bought a brass ring called a camaraderie ring because it was supposed to signify eternal friendship. Really I bought it because it has a satin finish and will complement the Banana Republic brass tone necklace I bought last year. The ring has two bands and luckily when it arrived I tried it on and it fit.

I admit it: the marketing strategy pulled me in.

This Sunday I'm going on a picnic and will wear the ring.

So I'm going to close out here by suggesting you reach out to other people and risk rejection.

There is someone out there for you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Good morning.

You'll see I've attached a Nelson Mandela quote as the header of this blog.

I feel there can be no shame in living with schizophrenia. No hesitancy to trumpet our lives. That's where the PR starts. Our stories are worth telling because we lived them.

I'm reminded of men in business who think the world revolves around them and who think they're supremely important people. Why can't people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses feel good about themselves too?

It's hard when the stigma is alive and kicking. To that I say the best defense is to "be brave and live your life."

Elanor Roosevelt is quoted: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

So I would tell you not to give stigma any weight. It will only serve to limit your perception of what you can do if you carry the stigma with you wherever you go.

I'm not saying it's easy to give stigma the boot. I found out the hard way when I discontinued the Stelazine and had to be hospitalized again.

The true cost of stigma can't be measured however it indirectly influences so much: whether a person seeks help and whether she feels she's capable of striving for something better.


The cost of success is that sometimes living with schizophrenia can be painful. When you have the insight that you are different it can be painful to realize. I'm aware that the price of beauty can be pain.

I dedicate this blog entry to everyone who has fought so valiantly to achieve their goals.

Right now I'm not sure what the answer is only I remember the expression: "when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping." I have been engaging in retail therapy like there's no end in sight.

I doubt I will ever not care how I look because the truth is I want to be taken seriously. So you will find me planning my outfits and coordinating jewelry to match my outfits.

I can't say this doesn't matter to me because it does.

Also: I treated a friend to dinner for his birthday. We ate in the Spanish restaurant.

That is the answer: to do the things that give you joy.

To understand that sometimes what goes on is all in your head. When the reality of what's really going on contradicts the scenario you envisioned that is when life is painful. It is when you realize that you have schizophrenia and this will always be true.

So you walk in the neighborhood where you pop into the Tibetan store and you buy a ring that is a round clear green stone encircled by silver.

You realize that soon your money will run out.

Until then you can hope that someday it will be better.

You are not alone. Surely you are not alone.

Another day dawns.

A day to rejoice and be glad that God has given you this day.

So you live your life you love your life.


Friday, May 21, 2010


This is the day: today. We have only one day. Today. It's the only day that matters.

The concept of spring cleaning resonates with me now. I have a pile of folded pants and jeans on the floor next to my bed waiting to be steamed free of wrinkles. The winter comforter was replaced with the Asian floral bed spread and matching shams.

It is supposed to be 82 degrees today. I wear a long brown skirt, white tee shirt with rosettes, and a tiny brown cardigan. The John Hardy style ring. The new matte oval earrings I bought in Boston.

Already: I would like to not wear the boyfriend jeans outside of the apartment. They have tears in them the intended effect yet suddenly I feel like a slob wearing them in public. Which will happen when you wear them with a tee shirt.

Do you see?

It is time to retire the jeans and the black cropped jeans. I can wear them inside with my creativity tee shirt when I'm doing my writing. I call the tee shirt my creativity tee shirt because it is taxi cab yellow and has a taxi on the front and in the back it lists the charges for a ride in a New York City cab. To me that kind of yellow is a creative color. Thus I wear the tee shirt to be inspired to write.

The memories will always creep in: how you seem normal yet your mind is tearing, slowly, your sanity the perforated edge. You will remember everything that happened for as long as you live.

The time has come to let go and let life tell you what you are supposed to do.

Even now: another memory. You cannot divest yourself of the memories just yet.

Does it matter? Yes it does: I could masquerade as a normal person while inside my mind I was not well.

Do you need proof? Read my memoir, Left of the Dial, when it's published. You will see the song remains: the after tune as I near however remotely my crone or wise woman years.

When all else fails: lipstick.

I bought myself a tube from the MAC store: Rebel.

Tomorrow I wear my contact lenses and the rebel lipstick. A sign: I live my life left of the dial.

You are young.

The music matters.

The clothes are all you have.

I remember the summer of sadness when I realized that life was gone: the record had ended and the needle returned to its place.

Now I listen to Matt Pinfield spin music on a Saturday night. You can hear him streaming live on from eight to midnight too. He might even play your request.

Another lipstick I like is Viva Glam 3 and I might go back for that when one of the lipsticks I own now is done with. I bought the C3 Studio Fix foundation compact with the gift card C. gave me for my birthday.

So tomorrow I get dolled up to go out.

It seems irrefutable: you can recover from schizophrenia. Most people do.

I take nothing for granted. I live knowing that the tide could turn again. I do everything possible to live life well while I'm fortunate enough to have this life.

You are given only one day: today. The future will take care of itself. You must live for today.

Only this matters: to cheer people while you're here.

Am I a rebel? Possibly. I have a different way of looking at things. Long ago I went down a road that most people diagnosed with schizophrenia would not go down. That made all the difference.

To quote Lorene Carey: when there is no road you make a road. Do I remember this quote right? We learn by going where we have to go.

I will always hold out the hope that people living with schizophrenia can do well. Make no mistake about it I didn't choose this life: it was the life given to me. It is not entirely my own to do with as I please.

Only this is how I succeeded: I will tell you this secret: I was a rebel. I rebelled the life that was expected of someone in my situation.

I hope by reading this blog you are so inspired to dream.

Now I will go sign off.

Enjoy your night.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Worth Our Salt

Good morning.

I realize I haven't written in here in a while. I debate taking down the blogs altogether unless I can find topics for 30 blogs and write them out and then type them as I go along.

The debate is whether to be vocal as I know I will have critics. What can I tell you? I'm not a fan of peer-run respite care because I feel peers should be paid what they're worth and right now most peer advocates are paid minimum wage. When did it become acceptable to cut costs by paying peers minimum wage? Other professionals wouldn't dare be paid $7.60 per hour: they would draw a salary commensurate with their training and experience.

So when people say peer-run respite care will save millions of dollars I wonder if that's the best way to curb the rising cost of mental health care. For one: the U.S. government should regulate the price of prescription drugs. Nobody taking an atypical should have to pay hundreds of dollars a month on her drugs. This is the true inflated cost that causes mental health treatment to reach in the billions. The second reason for this figure is the revolving door syndrome: where peers revolve in and out of the hospital because they fail to take their medication. The cost of untreated mental illness in the form of people getting tossed in jail is another huge indirect cost of mental health care.

Now you see. Don't tell me that the cost of an inpatient hospital stay accounts for the bulk of fiscal mismanagement when it comes to treating people diagnosed with mental illnesses.

Pay peers what they're worth and not a penny less. That's the way I see it.

I'm not proud that other professionals tout the minimum wage of peers as the greatest cost-saving device in mental health care. This reinforces the stigma that prevents us from being given an equal role in society.

Besides everyone knows there are psychiatrists and MSWs who aren't worth their salt so until peers are paid equally I don't think we should accept minimum wage if we are worth our salt as advocates.

There. You see.

A wise woman told me the other day: "Don't be yourself for other people, be yourself for you." As in: help yourself first. There's a knee-jerk reaction that people who have recovered must become peer advocates. I will tell you: do what you want to do not what other people tell you to do. There's a job out there for you and it might not be as a peer advocate.

The dilemma with a peer being paid minimum wage to be an advocate is that she becomes a member of the working poor.

The solution is to be paid what we're worth as advocates.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

3:21 P.M.


Right now I'm working on the manuscript and attending to selling the memoir to a publisher so I have to keep what I do under wraps except to let you know the publication date so that you can go to the bookstore and buy Left of the Dial.

I"m reading a heartbreaking yet hopeful memoir Keeping the Feast written by Paula Buttarini. She is an Italian American woman who used food to heal. She lived in Rome and walked to the Campo Dei Fiori to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and bread every day. The name is Field of Flowers in English.

My Italian is rusty so I would like to buy the Rosetta Stone software and get back up to speed. I studied the language as a young woman and used to be fluent.

When I traveled to Italy I spoke it well enough to talk with the waiters and shopkeepers and open air market vendors. I bought at the flea market in Sienna a napkin holder for the equivalent of $5. Quanto costa? Cinque lire.

News: I have decided to go back to school for an MFA when I'm 55 and publish fiction. The MSW is not the option I choose to pursue right now.

Things are rolling along with the memoir.

I have a Twitter account: ChristinaBruni and I post my SchizophreniaConnection blog entries there so do surf over I'd love you to read what I write. Today I post the Mental Health Awareness Month SharePost. It will be uploaded about seven o'clock tonight.

This is all I can give you right now.

I went to the new salon for a haircut and it was hot hot hot outside so I have no energy to continue writing in here. The apartment is cooler yet I'm not going to bumble about Joyful Music with no destination in mind.

Have a Happy Day!