Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grateful Day

Years ago:

I would go with my parents to South Carolina where they had a condo on the waterfront. The K&W restaurant had an early bird special that attracted a lot of senior citizens. We used to rib my aunt-my father's sister-that K&W had a Venetian hour.

Today I was a K&W early bird.

I arrived to the retail district so early that the stores were closed. Luckily the tailor was open. He told me it would be too expensive to alter the Breton shirt and that I should just return it so I sent it back to J.Crew today. It was too big even thought the tag inside was stamped "16 yrs"-as in it was supposed to fit a 16-year old.

The book You Know You Want It has shipped so I should get it soon.

In August I go to Lord & Taylor to see if I can buy a structured black Petite jacket I can wear indoors in the fall and winter to replace the one I donated that was too big on me all these years.

In keeping with the Kinney's shoe store print advertisement that fashion is where you find it I bought for $7 a green v neck tee shirt with a tree design in Walgreen's. Yes: Walgreen's. The item was hanging on a rod at the end of the aisle close to where I was waiting in line. I will wear it tomorrow with my tailored skirt when I go see Dr. Altman.

Sephora beckons and I worry I will buy a lipstick to celebrate:

I've been out of the hospital 18 years.

Truly I'm grateful for my struggle.

How could this be? I see things differently. I knew by the time I was 35 that I wanted to spend my life in service to others.

The more remarkable truth is that I do all this even though it's hard. If everything came easy to me how could I possibly inspire other people on their own life path?

Listen: it is our right to keep certain things private. Nobody has to be any wiser about what's going on. Capisce?

So be it. Life isn't always tea and roses. A woman I know read my Connection blogs and commented that it brought tears to her eyes and yet she didn't once hear me complain. What good would that do?

You cannot change the music of your soul to quote Katharine Hepburn. She got that right. My old soul is tainted in this lifetime with schizophrenia. It will always be here.

Like a rebel I'm a scrappy little fighter challenging convention. Someone who lives her life left of the dial.

Tonight on the phone I spoke with my mother and she asked finally what the title of my book was. She understood it works on multiple levels. The word madness will not appear in the subtitle. Possibly the words A Life of Hope will be the subtitle yet not anything to do with madness.

For the simple reason I don't like the word madness because it invokes an extreme state that nobody can relate to. Yet I will always remember the night I had the breakdown. It is the first and most harrowing scene in the memoir.

I've been in recovery 23 years.

I will quibble with people who say you cannot recover from schizophrenia. You can recover even if you won't ever be cured. There's a difference.

I understand what it's like to struggle because to remember is to understand. Yet it is precisely because I know how hard it is to live life with schizophrenia that I make the case for considering yourself recovered should you get to a certain point.

It is possible I feel this way because I'm an eternal optimist who is now able to live life on her her own terms who feels each of us has the right to define the kind of life she wants to live.

That is the premise of my second book.

It will be hard to change most psychiatrists' minds that have a dim view of what their patients can achieve.

Mark Vonnegut is the son of Kurt Vonnegut and he has schizophrenia and is a psychiatrist whose book will be published in the fall about giving patients the right kind of medication: talk as well as drugs.

I will see if I can interview him at the Connection because this guy is on to something.

The idea that fashion and music can be forms of therapy is not far from my mind on most days either. I was in the elevator and the guy who did the electrical work asked me if I were a fashion designer because he saw my vision board with all the photos of well-dressed women leaning against the wall. I told him no I just loved fashion.

It might be Petite Bateau for me when it comes to tee shirts now especially if that vendor has a Breton stripe or some kind of other stripe that is elegant.

I'm going to wind down this blog entry because it's come full-circle.

The Eric Daman book has a section titled Closet Case about weeding out your closet. That kind of practical advice always fascinates me.

So let me go and log onto the Petite Bateau web site.

Have a good evening.

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