3 Things to Do More Often

I have a lot of bad habits, but I’m trying to establish good ones. Here are some things that I can do more often:

  1. EXERCISE: Well, I exercise nearly every single day by walking on the treadmill and doing one exercise, like jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, lunges, or squats. The former, I do for 10 minutes. The latter, according to that particular fitness challenge, I’m supposed to do 3 of the above exercises a day. I only do one because I can’t do all 3 one after the other yet.
    I can’t walk for more than 10 minutes because it is so frickin’ boring, even though I always read a book — which helps. Plus, it’s challenging for me right now. I went from doing zero exercises to what I do today. I can increase the length of time or the speed in which I walk, slowly. I feel that I can increase the exercises, but in very small increments. My therapist says that any movement is good.
  2. DIET: I feel that I can eat better than I do, like eat more salads because they aren’t as calorie dense as say, a cheese quesadilla. The problem is I don’t like salads. It’s not that I don’t like vegetables — I hate trying to spear the pieces of lettuce with my fork. It’s unsatisfying not to get a nice mouthful of food. I do occasionally eat — and enjoy eating — a salad, and I can choose salad more often when we eat out.
  3. READ: I haven’t been reading anywhere near as much as I used to. Part of the reason is I don’t have enough time. Another is because the last few books I read have bored me.
    I’m currently reading Educated by Tara Westover. It’s a memoir about how the author grew up in a survivalist family. That is, the dad was convinced that the End of Days were near and made sure his family would be protected. He also didn’t believe in the government, so some of the kids didn’t have birth certificates or drivers licenses.
    It’s interesting and I like it so far. But it’s not the kind of book I can’t put down and finish in a day.

So these are 3 areas of my life that I want to improve: slowly increase the number of exercises that I do; eat more salads/make healthier food choices; and make time to read every day, not just while I’m on the treadmill.

Is there anything you would like to improve?

“My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward” by Mark Lukach

Photo from HarperCollins

NOTE: This is not a book review; these are just my thoughts–which may wander.

This book’s rating is 4.08 of 5 stars on Goodreads, so I guess people really liked it. I gave it a 3. It was just okay.

While the author is a great storyteller/narrator, what really killed it for me is that so much of the story is unbelievable. Anyone who’s ever been in a psych ward would know that.

At one point Lukach describes how he and other family visitors were allowed to hang out in the wife’s hospital room during a holiday. Are you kidding me? That would never be allowed in real life.

In a real psych ward, visitors are welcome to hang out in the visiting room with the patient; nowhere else. They enforce that rule. But in all the time I’ve spent in psych wards, I’ve never seen anyone try to break it.

Who’s “they,” you might be wondering. “They” are nurses and mental health workers. The latter are, in my experience, mostly male, strong, and probably worked security in the past. But that’s just a guess.

Anyway, there were many other unbelievable scenes in the book, none of which I remember of course, thanks to ECT. Well, and it’s been a few months since I read it; I’m only now writing down my thoughts.

Have you read My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward? What are your thoughts?

Savannah, Georgia

“Little Gracie” – Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia; photo provided by the author

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I flew to Savannah for a vacation in March. I’m a big fan of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, both the book (the Book) and the movie (the Movie), and ever since I read/watched the (true) story, I wanted to visit the places John Berendt, the author, did. In fact, we got to do that because we went on a walking tour that was specifically about the Book/Movie. We even visited the house in which the main character lived, and which was used for filming the Movie.

Bird Girl by Sylvia Shaw Judson – Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia; photo provided by author

An image of the Bird Girl, a sculpture created by Sylvia Shaw Judson, graces the Book’s cover. The photo gained immense popularity. So many people visited the statue in the cemetery where it was placed, that the family who commissioned the sculpture had it moved to the Telfair Museums, a small group of art museums, where it stands today. I didn’t do the sculpture justice, but this was the best picture I could take.

2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Savannah, Georgia; photo provided by author

Before our trip, we learned that Savannah has the second largest St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the United States. (Boston is number one.) Neither of us are huge party animals, but there were plenty! We were fortunate that the hotel where we stayed had a semi-private balcony, which is where we watched the obligatory St. Paddy’s Day parade.

These are just a few of the highlights from our trip. We did many things–ate at delicious restaurants, went for plenty of walks on the cobble-stoned streets, went on a boat to sightsee dolphins. We absolutely loved it there!

“No One Cares About Crazy People” by Ron Powers

Photo provided by author

No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers takes a look at the state of mental healthcare in America vis-à-vis his family’s experience with mental illness.

While some of the information (because it’s not just a memoir) such as the history of abuse in mental institutions and how deinstitutionalization of mental patients led to homelessness was fascinating, but I don’t need to know what studies have to say about deinstitutionalization, for example.

Because of this type of data, I began losing interest and found the book mostly boring. The chapters that discuss an aspect of mental healthcare were filled with facts and figures, none of which interested me. So I skimmed those chapters and only read the ones about the author’s 2 schizophrenic sons, and how the parents dealt with the illness. They both paid close attention to their kids’ behavior and mental states, good and bad.

No One Cares About Crazy People is informational, but what I found particularly interesting is the family’s story in relation to mental illness. I’m more interested in the human side of things rather than facts and figures. It’s not a bad book; I just didn’t like it. I’d say it’s worth a read, especially if you want to school yourself about mental healthcare in the U.S.

For a more in-depth review of this book, check out Mental Health @ Home.

“Gorilla and the Bird” by Zack McDermott

Rolling Stone

Zack McDermott chronicles his psychotic/manic and depressive episodes in Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love. The author, a public defender, takes readers through his psychosis. It’s the raw, hard, truth of his experience and is difficult to read because, being bipolar myself, I could relate.

He describes his various experiences of going to the hospital and ending up in the psych ward. His stays sound frightening because my own experience with psych wards is tamer. For example, I’ve never had a nurse say to me, “I’m not a mental patient” (Loc. 2632) The context is irrelevant. The fact that the nurse said this is unacceptable.

McDermott also writes about growing up in Kansas. Gorilla is the nickname his mother gave him because of his size and the hair on his back. McDermott’s mom is the Bird, so named because her neck movements resemble a bird’s.

I have to be honest. I had a tough time reading the interactions with his mom. He doesn’t ever call her “Mom,” just “Bird” throughout the book. I realize that the word “mom” is a social construct, but I still found it weird that the author addresses his mom by a nickname. Also, their relationship was wonky to me — I got something like a sexual vibe from it. Even the author states, “I had a grand Oedipal complex” (Loc. 3578).

Also relatable (to me) is McDermott’s low self-esteem. At one point he says he might as well have “a permanent rubber stamp that I was a certified fuckup” (Loc. 3206). This type of declaration appears more than once.

Though, as I said, parts of this book can be difficult to read, I highly recommend it.