January 05, 2014

Fighting On


This holiday season has been a difficult one for many families. Many are grieving the loss of loved ones, and some are grieving the very recent loss of family members. I recently found out about two such losses the week before Christmas. One heartbreaking loss was the life a young pregnant woman to suicide and the other equally tragic loss was a young man lost to unstable choices due to mental illness leading to a murder. Though these individuals are very different people they are both young and both children and siblings. Both individuals lost their lives to their illness. One more specifically lost his life due to a lack of service support in his community.

So I sat up all night in bed wondering how this can happen? How do we stop this from happening and why aren’t we noticing that lives are being lost daily due to insufficient support for mental illnesses? I felt that after all my years of advocacy we were losing the war. How could I move forward when my heart was broken and I felt that no one who has the power to make change cares?

But then I thought about another life we recently lost, Mr. Nelson Mandela. And I wondered - how did he do it? How did he keep moving forward when possibly every other day felt like a loss? How did he keep committed to his fight when he was imprisoned? How did he continue to love both sides and offer complete forgiveness to those who were wronging his community?

This great quote says so much, “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death” (Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom).

Though I do not find myself the eternal optimist I take heart in “keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward”. One step at a time. Remember the community who are fighting for justice with you. Remember that change is slow. Remember you are not in this fight alone. Remember love and forgiveness.

December 15, 2013

To write


I have not written here since May of 2012, and today I am here to say that I am going to start writing again. Creating again. I have been so busy traveling and trying to make enough money to pay my bills I have found myself believing that I am too tired to write, too tired to be creative. Years ago, when I was initially writing the book I wrote out of necessity. I wrote because I couldn’t breathe until I did. I wrote because it kept me moving forward and not stuck in the intangible circling images, thoughts and feelings in my head. Now I find myself needing it again. I spend my days at work feeling stuck and stagnant. Not growing. But I have realized it is my lack of creativity. My lack of art. I cannot live without creating and it has been too long. My rising anxiety levels tell me it is time to move forward in my life. I am getting closer to graduate school, and recently got accepted to Brown’s Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership program. But I cannot do this alone. I can’t do advocacy without art, activism without creativity. So, today I have decided to write again. To take photographs again. To allow myself to think deeper and express myself on paper rather than become paralyzed by emotions I cannot convey in my head alone.

May 20, 2012

Perfect Chaos Has Hit the Shelves!

Hello everyone,

Just want to let you all know that Perfect Chaos has hit the shelves! Buy it from your local independent bookstore, buy it on e-book, buy it however you want to read it! Know that it has been a long time coming and has finally arrived! It has been a whirlwind tour since the launch two Tuesday's ago, with a trip to New York, two book launches, one with the lovely and wonderfully, generous Glenn Close, a reading at my favorite store (Elliott Bay), a beautiful party with the Flawless foundation where I met Tipper Gore and the beautiful Sarah Deanna. So many things to go on about but I am too exhausted to tell all from here, so...I promise a longer post and more wonderful pictures to come. For now check out beautiful book launch pictures on our Linea/Cinda fan page on Facebook and our amazingly beautiful Elliott Bay picture on Flicker. So exciting but exhausting. Thank you all for your fabulous support and love for the book. You make all the hectic schedule and secret telling worth it:)

Good Night and I promise more soon!
Linea

March 02, 2012

A Ledge to Rest On


He said I’m standing on a ledge.
            He said it’s like I’m climbing up from the depths of hell on a hot metal ladder trying to reach the top until I find it. A ledge to rest on. A ledge still somewhere in hell, but one I can sit on, waiting until I once again have to force myself to get back on that burning ladder.
            But the problem is, until today, I haven’t realized that I am just sitting here. I sit here today still feeling pain, depression, and exhaustion wondering why my meds are just not doing the job without realizing that I am not working as hard as I should be.
            Sometimes I think my psychiatrist knows me better than anyone I have ever met. I am lucky to have found him because without his honest words I would not realize that I wasn’t working hard enough. Not realizing that I’ve been deceiving myself.
            It is easy when pain is no longer excruciating, but bearable to think that this is the way it is going to be. It is easy to believe that you have done your duty and it is the drugs that are not lining up. After seven intensive years of therapy it is easy to believe that I have done all the work necessary and that the pain and depression are, in fact, a part of my personality. But they’re not.
            I have been told, and I hope to believe it, that there is a top of the ladder. That there is solid ground on which I can rest; solid ground where I can feel safe and secure and happy. But it will take work.
            I can’t imagine going through this alone. I know I am a lucky one. Without someone to tell me, “Look, you’re doing that thing you do, where you shut out the pain and act pleasant and nice so I stop asking questions”. I can’t imagine not having someone to call me out as I deceive myself again and again.
But I’m glad I know now, that I know that there is a higher ground, that there is a place where I won’t have to feel pain all the time. And though I know life can never be completely pain-free I know I can get there.
There is always more work to do.

February 26, 2012

It's almost here!

Just returned from New York last week with the Advanced Reader's Copy of Perfect Chaos in hand! So amazing to hold our book in a solid, compact, book sized form as opposed to endless pages on a computer or a 320 loose printed manuscript. Preorder now through MacMillan's list of book sellers: http://us.macmillan.com/perfectchaos/LineaJohnson
Perfect Chaos (St. Martin's Press), out May 8th!

February 23, 2012

Stop Mental Health Budget Cuts!

Hello all,

Though it has been ages since I last blogged I promise that I will update you in the days to come, but first I have a very pressing message.  The State House of Representatives released it's budget yesterday, and it contains over $26M in reductions to mental health services.

This will place more people struggling with mental health conditions on the streets, in emergency rooms, and in our prison system. But you can make a difference, with the help of Sound Mental Health (http://http://smh.org/) we have key phrases you can use when contacting your State Representatives and Senators:

 “A $26 million cut to mental health is too much!” 
  “Please support mental health!”
 “The House budget cuts to mental health are too drastic!” 
  “Mental health is too important to be cut so much!”  

or

"$26 million dollars is too much to cut for Mental Health Services. Mental Illness is a disease that is manageable with the proper care. Without the proper care the cost to the individual, the community and overall public safety far away outweigh the initial cost of care. Why should Mental Illness be looked at any differently than any other diseases?"

Please go to the following link to send a single message to your Senator: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default.aspx

Thank you for making an effort to change the system!

June 05, 2011

Taking Care


            In the last week I have been on 8 planes, in 6 cities, been to 3 conferences and had 3 hotel rooms. I have been gone for a total of 9 days. I have collected at least twenty business cards and given away twice as many. I have met and presented to hundreds of people.
            I was worried about this trip. I knew that there would be lots of time change as I went back and forth between Seattle, Charlotte, Houston, and Boston. I knew that I would be overwhelmed with the knowledge that I would gain from these conferences and the people I would meet. I knew that I have been fragile lately and that the last two trips before this tour led me to take a little step backwards in my recovery from this winter’s eating disorder. I knew these things so this time I was ready.
            This time I packed four snacks for each of the nine days, and ate almost all of them, the only leftovers being there because I had other snacks instead. I watched myself and my energy level. I took breaks and I went for a run when I felt I needed a little time to myself. I learned that I could in fact do a conference tour without falling backwards on my recovery plan. I learned that I could do it as long as I took care of myself, and that taking care of myself was hard, but important.
            Missing sessions on PTSD in returning soldiers and the newest in scientific brain research was hard, but I knew that I had to stop and take care of my needs. I knew that I needed to step away from this thing I felt I had to do to take a moment to myself.
            It is hard for me not to do everything. I feel I have a duty to learn as much as I can and that I will be missing some important connections by not attending the nighttime movie or the afternoon snack break. I feel that mean voice of anger and sadness saying “you're not good enough” “you're not trying hard enough”. But this week I have found myself fighting back. Saying no.
            It is often hard to take breaks when you live with a chronic health condition. You find yourself blaming yourself when it’s your body that is unable to do more. I find that there is an added burden when it comes to brain disorders where the stigma kicks in and you begin to judge your character for something you have no control over.
            One session that I went to was by the author, Susan Rose Blauner in which she talked about the importance of taking care of yourself. She talked about being kind to ourselves and taking that time to pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you are doing a good job.
            So this is what I did. I realized that I didn’t feel as prepared for my early morning session the next day so I skipped out on a session that I would have enjoyed. I told myself that I would learn this some time in my life and perhaps meet the presenter later. I skipped the night time movie about returning soldiers knowing that my brain was full and my emotions where about ready to spill over and went for a run and a nice long sit in the window seat in my hotel room.
            It is so hard to take care of ourselves when we feel we that self-stigma creep in. But through hard work and time I was finally able to take care of myself, and though obvious I learned that by taking care of myself I was a better presenter, networker, and a stronger and happier me.

December 15, 2010

Glee and Discrimination

The following post is a letter I wrote to the creator, writer, and director of Glee. Though it is one of my favorite shows I was recently very disappointed in the episode, "The Substitute" because of its discriminator and stigmatizing language and actions. Please check out the episode here  (http://www.fox.com/glee/full-episodes/674574657001) or on itunes and write to Ryan Murphy and Fox about your feelings.


This email is addressed to Ryan Murphy and anyone involved in the Glee episode "The Substitute"

Hello Mr. Murphy and staff,

My name is Linea Johnson and I am a mental health advocate. I am 25, and though not an adolescent anymore, work primarily with adolescents struggling with mental health conditions. I am also a consumer who lives with bipolar disorder.

I watch Glee every week and have always considered it a show full of great lessons through it's discussion of important and often controversial topics. I felt that you handled teenage pregnancy, bullying, and the struggles of being openly gay in high school extremely well. I feel there was so much to learn for students struggling with similar issues as well as so much to teach to those who enjoy your show but may not understand these lessons. On the whole I think Glee is a wonderful, strong and intelligent show.

My view changed a little on November 16th when I watched the episode, "The Substitute". Watching Gwyneth Paltrow, a beautiful and talented actress and one who many young girls admire, speaking ignorantly about bipolar disorder and mental illness was very disturbing. To use bipolar disorder as a joke accompanied by the violent image of tossing a baby is complete discrimination and ignorance. The level of stigma that this produces is extremely harmful for all those struggling with this very difficult illness and for those who know and love them.

Did you know that 1 in 4 families will experience a mental illness? 1 in 5 young adults will experience a mental health condition whether it is depression and/or anxiety or something more extreme like bipolar disorder. Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death for high-schoolers and young adults? I have no doubt that someone in your cast or crew has experienced a mental health condition, likely numerous individuals.

Shows like this are extremely harmful and dangerous to your public. While you are intelligently inclusive of most youth, this episode made it painfully clear that you are not supportive of a very large majority of the students. It is evident that you didn't consider the emotional states that young mothers, over-weight high schoolers, openly gay students, and many more experience in high school. Hasn't Curt experienced depression and fear throughout his bullying? Didn't Quinn have emotional distress during her pregnancy? Perhaps you should try to touch on this very serious issue and continue to teach powerful lessons.

I am very disappointed in Glee. Please make a change and produce episodes that deal with mental illness accurately and compassionately and include themes of recovery. Your treatment of bipolar disorder has lessened the impact of your other powerful lessons and made me question my interest in the show.

Thank you,
Linea Johnson
linea@lineacinda.com
www.lineacinda.com


You can contact Fox here: askfox@fox.com

And Ryan Murphy here:
Ryan Murphy (Glee creator, director, writer):
Ryan Murphy Productions
5555 Melrose Ave
Chevalier Bldg.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Phone: 323-956-5000
Fax: 323-862-2121