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Love Hopes All Things

Love…… Hopes All Things                                                         

This invitation comes to us from the most profound book of literature ever written.  It must hold truths to be considered, as it is the most purchased book of all time.  Corinthians is the specific book in the Bible which calls us to Love.  Only a cold and calloused individual would not recognize the fact, “a world void of Love is an un-lovely place to live, moreover unsafe.  Love is not necessary to exist, no however, it is vital in order to thrive.  It is quite common to see the words love and hope inscribed on a plaque or engraved in jewelry, sometimes together and other times separate.  I think I know why people place those like frontals on the helmet of a Roman soldier. They speak of life giving qualities.  We all are aware of particular elements which sustain life…such as food, clothing, shelter and money.  I dare say there is no greater sustaining force in the universe than that of Love and the looking forward to a better day….here… and the after life- HOPE!  

No matter your value system or M.O. (modus operandi) in life, everyone has to have Hope.  We have all heard the cliché, “They Lost Hope”.  I would suggest, without Hope, a person simply exists, rather than thrive(s).  If everyone needs Hope, then it is not an exclusive offer.  The consumer or person with mental illness is included and must recognize the power of a life filled and saturated with Hope.  In order to recognize our need for anything good, many times we have to claw our way to the point of awareness; which can be painful.  One of the observations in the life of persons with mental illness or brain diseases, is a mentality which can be consumed with negativity.  Before you think I am preaching, I am, to me as well.  If Hope is so paramount in our lives to offer beneficial qualities, then a closer look at the consumer’s part in this is necessary. 

Let me endeavor to clarify in a helpful manner the peculiar struggles of the mentally ill consumer.  There are realities which make up the world of the consumer.  As a result of the fragility or ever changing, even unsuspecting process of mental illness, mental protectionism is important but can be misrepresented as selfishness.  Every mental health consumer must establish boundaries. However, those never need to be selfishly motivated.  I have a personal window to look from on this point.  I have been perceived as living inside my head and oblivious to others and events around me.  This world of taking care of ourselves,, can appear negative and self absorbed, which seems or looks to many as not Hopeful.  The world in general needs more education concerning mental illness.  One area of education which needs more attention is the concept of grandness when it comes to the grandness when it comes to the spectrum of diagnosis and treatment.   It is a fact; persons diagnosed with schizophrenia are on stronger psychotic meds than those with Bipolar I.  Consequently, the perception of these two individuals is going to be completely different.  The Hope “Well or “Tank”, will look altogether different, supplying a varied outcome. 

Please allow me to illustrate further.  As a result of amazing and perhaps miraculous medications, more consumers are able to work and sustain a living, providing for themselves and those they love.  This is without question a charging of the emotional battery.  I would go so far as to say “Hope Giving”!  Unfortunately there are consumers who as a result of impaired concentration cannot sustain a job.  We as a Nation believe it our responsibility to provide Social Security Disability for these valuable individuals, regardless of their inability to financially contribute to society.  This is especially difficult when considering the male temperament.  I would think being aware enough to desire to work and go to a job, yet not allowed by your mind, could contribute to a feeling of Hopelessness.  Furthermore, if you were to encounter these consumers on a given day, your perception could be full of judgment and inaccuracies.  For those who make up the mentally healthy population, it might sound like this, “Man, they seem so negative and pessimistic”.  While the consumer can always improve his recovery there are just some hard cold facts.  Work and jobs are a major element in people’s lives in order to survive.  I believe America’s paradigm is out of balance related to this subject.  Sometimes what we believe indispensable is not always the case.  This is another subject and needs to be discussed in another blog.  However, it proves a point.  American’s place great priority and stock in a person’s ability to work and contribute to society, perhaps to an unbalanced and unhealthy position.  A performance mentality propels so much of what we do as citizens.  Don’t misunderstand me, work is such a necessary and healthy ingredient for individuals and a society.  But, the guilt felt by consumers who can’t perform is palpable with its built in condemnation.  Consider the unexpected severance of a healthy person from their job.  I believe this would evoke a negative reaction or seasons of Hopelessness.  Now, consider for a moment, the on going minute by minute, day by day feeling which bombards the mentally ill consumer…..not exclusively about work but family relationships, intimacy in marriage and the constant stigma surrounding mental illness.  This subject is perceived as negative for advocating in its defense.  Words so commonly heard from the uneducated are “Can’t they be silent”? “Do they ever talk about anything positive”? 

I have encountered all of what has been written here.  I admit to not always achieving a spirit of Hopefulness.  I am blessed beyond measure to work and contribute to society thus providing for my family. In recent years, this has been accomplished through innovation.  I am grateful that my mind was in a healthy state when gazing at something as simple as a set of guitar strings.  When the idea to make jewelry from recycled guitar strings flashed from one synapse to the other, Strung Up Jewelry was born!!  As the company progressed, Hope locked hands with ingenuity, and my family’s life changed forever.  There was no way to calculate the affect my discovery would have on me as a consumer.  We chartered our non-profit foundation Concerts of Hope Inc at the same time.  The long awaited full time journey in an RV was realized as well.  To sustain ourselves, our family has sold Strung Up Jewelry at vending opportunities all over the nation.  Along with this, my story which has become our family’s story has been shared with thousands of individuals who have stood and listened with sincerity and intent. 

I honestly can attribute this hopeful experience to many great and inspiring concepts, however, none more important than an all inclusive Life Management System.  Was I in a healthy place when the ideas flooded my mind? Absolutely!!  Moreover, here is what I believe a Life Management System looks like, from my perspective.  Please indulge me a personal illustration.

1.      As a Consumer I have not ever quit taking my medication(s). I have been confronted with the demons of “I feel better, so why can’t I be normal like everyone else and not take this stuff”.  I made the decision that my wife and daughters deserve and need a healthy husband and father.
2.      I have been faithful to attend all Dr Appointment’s which provided more meds and accountability.  Along with this, prescriptions for blood tests were administered which I always obey….even though I despise needles.
3.      Leading up to my moment of epiphany, I was praying and meditating as often as possible.  The flexibility of self employment was a blessing.
4.      I was limiting the intake of media which included- media (news) movies and especially negative media before bed time.  The explosion of social media in recent year’s, must be addressed as potentially inducing anxiety, mania and irritability.  I am referencing Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet.  I am not a recluse, however all these must be entered into with moderation.
5.      I was cognizant of sleep patterns and habits.  I endeavored to get 8 hours of sleep each night.  I was aware of peculiar or uncommon dreams, but not to the point of inordinate introspection.  Aware of the possibility for guilt, related to needed daytime naps.  If you need one and can, take a power nap. 
6.      I was working on family relationships, immediate/marriage.  Endeavored to be as honest as I knew how to be with my wife.  I was endeavoring to communicate the necessary information my children needed to understand Bipolar and OCD behavior.
7.      I also was learning how to manage being a self employed business man with new responsibilities, such as paper work, taxes, licensing and communicating with a CPA.  Sometimes this was all I could handle along with dealing with clients/people.
In summary, all of us can be Hopeful.  For the mental health consumer, the task is more complex.  There are helps and ways to maximize our levels of Recovery.  I believe with all my heart, Life Management Systems are Tantamount to everything! 

I have received Hope for my future or I feel very Hopeful about 2013.  The discipline of writing is a wonderful reminder of my reasons to Hope.  I want to experience more Love in my life in 2013.  I long for my soul to enjoy an ever evolving mind set of Hope.  I trust at the end of 2013, others will see that I am a man of Hope!!! 

I desire for you to experience the Joy of Hope in 2013.




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