The Who’s Crazy Now News & Views, January 22 2008

The Who’s Crazy Now? News and Views
Published by Elly Litvak
Mental Health Coach, Consultant & Public Speaker

The Who’s Crazy Now? News and Views provides information for
people recovering from a mental illness, their families, friends
and mental health professionals.

Email: el**@wh**********.com

January, 2008 Volume 1 Issue 7

Please forward The Who’s Crazy Now? News and Views to your friends
and associates.

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In this issue
1. New Year Greeting
2. Feature Article: YOU are Number 1: Self-care Basics
3. Memoir Excerpt: ‘The Big Aha Moment’: Part 3, the Finale
4. The Loonie Awards (Not Just Another Recovery Awards Show)
5. Now Who’s Crazy Now? The Play
6. About Elly
7. Coaching and Mental Health Services
8. Subscription Information

1. New Year Greeting from Elly
Dear Readers,

Happy New Year! I wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful
2008. If you have yet to embark on making a recovery plan, the New
Year is probably a good time to start. This issue kicks off 2008
with a series of feature articles on creating a balanced,
meaningful life. The topics that I’ll cover in this series include
self-care, work, relationships and community, finances, romance and
intimacy, environment, spirituality and personal growth. Together
these aspects equal the whole you. This issue starts with
self-care basics.

Thanks to all of you for your feedback and ideas for future
newsletters. Send your feedback to el**@wh**********.com.

2. Feature Article: YOU are Number 1: Self-care Basics
People are often shocked when they learn that I was diagnosed
bi-polar and endured seemingly endless cycles of manic episodes and
hospitalizations. My recovery regime takes priority over
everything else in my life. Your self-care takes priority over
all else in your life too. Diabetes management is a perfect
metaphor for how everyone could be healthier. I lucked out when I
met my partner who’s been diabetic since he was five. His life is
threatened if he doesn’t eat three nutritionally balanced meals a
day, exercise and take his medication. I eventually adapted this
holistic routine but it took some time. Be patient with yourself
if you’re just developing a healthy regime. Not only will you
become adept at managing stress you’ll have better overall health,
lower your risk of disease, maintain a healthy body weight, build
stronger muscles and bones, feel and look better and you’ll have
more energy to enjoy life.

There’s a variety of aspects involved in your self-care. This
issue will address three basic needs: Eating well, getting enough
sleep and daily exercise. Start by asking yourself these three
questions: Could I be eating better? Do I exercise enough? Do I
get enough sleep?

Eating Well

Eating well is a matter of providing yourself with the right amount
and types of food that you need daily. A great resource for
nutritional information is Canada’s Food Guide. The website is
chock full of online information but you can also order hard copies
free of charge. Go to this link to
learn more.

Begin by keeping a daily record of what you are eating and
drinking. Once you see what you’re consuming you’ll know if you
need to change your diet. If you need to lose weight remember the
cardinal rule: ‘do not deny yourself anything’. If you’re like me
and you have a sweet tooth and a passion for chocolate and ice
cream make certain you treat yourself regularly. Learning portion
control is at the helm of weight management. One Lindor chocolate
after dinner has replaced my daily ingestion of multiple Mars bars.

A great resource for daily nutritional portions at Canada’s Food
Guide site is ‘My Food Guide Servings Tracker’. You can click on
the gender and age link to find out exactly how much of each food
category you need daily including supplements when recommended.

We all need a certain amount of daily nutrients that come from
fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy and alternatives, meat and
alternatives, and oils and fats. The key as always is balance.
Eating healthy on a limited income can be challenging. The good
news is that eating well can be affordable for everyone. Here’s a
list of some barriers and how to overcome them.

Healthy food costs too much. Solution:

-Cut back on pre-prepared foods and low nutrient snacks like salty
snack foods, cookies and baked goods, high calorie soft drinks and
-Buy fresh fruits and veggies when in season and freeze them for
-Choose canned or frozen veggies and fruit. They are nutritious
and affordable.
-Replace meat with beans, lentils and legumes several times a week.
-Stock up on canned goods and staples when they’re on sale.

It’s tough to cook for one. Solution:

-Feed your freezer. Cook up quantities of soups, sauces and stews
and freeze them in meal portioned containers.
-Make extra big salads. Without dressing salads can store in the
fridge up to three or four days. Squeeze it with a bit of lemon
juice but leave out the salt.
-Get smart about planning your meals. A spaghetti and meatball
dinner can be a meatball sandwich the next day. Bake a bunch of
baked potatoes and use the extras to make hash browns or potato
skins for another meal.
-Join a community kitchen. Many communities have programs where
cooking is a social activity, also providing you with meals to take
-Make sandwiches. Sandwiches are your friend. Choose a whole
wheat bread, fresh veggies and cheese or sliced meat. Sandwiches
provide a well balanced meal.

Getting Enough Exercise

If you haven’t exercised for years and you’re feeling guilty here’s
some good news. The first is that guilt is a wasted emotion and
secondly all you need is a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Half an
hour can be daunting if you’re not already exercising but the trick
is to begin with 10 minutes and build up gradually to 30 minutes or
even an hour. Studies show that even a little bit of exercise is
better than no exercise.

Choose an exercise you enjoy and that works well with your daily
schedule. The list of possibilities is endless. The idea is to
keep moving and you can do this in a variety of ways like walking,
biking, swimming, hiking, going to the gym, playing tennis,
basketball, hackee sack, baseball, badminton, volleyball, soccer,
or doing tai chi or yoga. If you’re one of those folks who find it
hard to get motivated on your own, try buddying up with a friend,
working with a coach or join a walking club. Check out the fitness
facilities and activities at your local community centre. Most
community centres have gyms, yoga classes and sports groups.
Remember to always contact your doctor before you start any
exercise program.

Don’t be a couch potato. Spend less time being inactive like
watching TV or playing computer games. Stay strong lifting
groceries or doing gardening and yard work. Walk whenever
possible. Every step counts, including taking the stairs when
possible, walks to your mailbox, grocery or video store. You can
pick up a pedometer at a dollar store to track the number of steps
you take each day and build up from there.

Sleep and Rest

Sleep can be a major catalyst for extreme moods. Not enough sleep
can exacerbate psychosis and manic episodes. Too much sleep may be
a sign of depression. Disturbed sleep or insomnia can be
debilitating for some folks. The right amount of rest is necessary
for keeping body, mind and spirit healthy. Here are some facts I
learned about achieving healthy sleep habits.
– Get more exercise, physical and mental.
– Set a regular bedtime, and keep it. Your body needs reliability.
– Learn simple meditation and deep breathing and practice it before
– Take a warm bath before bed.
– Keep your bedroom dark. Even small amounts of light and noise can
disturb sleep.
– Don’t overheat your environment. Sleep loves cold. Keep your
bedroom cold but load up on blankets.
– Less is more. The less you do in response to a bout of
sleeplessness, the faster your sleep patterns will return to normal.
– Keeping your wake-up time constant but going to bed one hour
later will help 25% of insomniacs in one to two weeks. Prepare to
feel sleepy at times and avoid driving then. After two weeks, add
back the time in half-hour increments.
– Don’t worry about the consequences of not sleeping. Worrying
about insomnia can create insomnia.
– Do not try to induce sleepiness by drinking alcohol. It’s a great
relaxant but it is metabolized so quickly it creates rebound
insomnia within the night; it’s so fast-acting you’ll be up in four
short hours.
– Limit caffeine to one cup of coffee in the morning. At age 18,
caffeine has a half-life of 4.5 hours, which increases with age.
Gradually eliminate caffeine altogether if you have trouble

3. Memoir Excerpt: ‘The Big Aha Moment’: Part 3, The Finale
Aha! In spite of this kind of abuse, I had never really stopped
vying for my mother’s love and attention. Even though the evidence
had been mounting for years that she had neither to give. I tried
to cope as best as I could, but it was just too much.

I was hospitalized for the first time when I was fifteen, locked in
a loveless marriage at twenty, and hospitalized again at
twenty-eight when my marriage failed and I lost custody of my
children. I was diagnosed with manic depression, personality
disorders, and other things. I was on welfare for years, homeless
at times, and in and out of psych wards. As much as I wanted to, I
couldn’t prevent the seemingly endless roller coaster ride of
insanity, poverty and incarceration that was my life.

Until my first aha moment.

I was gazing out my cabin by the sea window on Vancouver Island
when the words of a psychologist I’d seen smacked me awake. Aha!
“You know, YOU can take responsibility to control your episodes”.

Responsibility? Control? What did that mean? I was a classic
“non-compliant” when it came to taking meds let alone control of my
life. Eventually I figured out what taking responsibility and
creating balance in my life entailed. I developed a healthy regard
for the responsible use of medication as well as a concrete,
holistic recovery plan.

It’s been almost fifteen years since that first aha moment, the
first step in a long journey towards recovery. I realized that it
doesn’t matter what your story is or what your problems are, you
just have to take charge and with determination and persistence
balance will prevail. While the journey could take one, two,
three, four or more wild flashes of inspiration and realizations,
the movie that is life plays on. Recovery is a lot of hard work,
time, patience and commitment. But everything gets clearer, more

“Mother is angry, pushy, manipulative, and can be cruel and
vindictive” and I hear my mother shrieking “You’re a SICK, hideous,
FAT ASS Grubba Tuchus! You UGLY MORON, you disgusting PIECE of
CRAP!” And suddenly I’m back in that cheap movie theatre.
Someone’s finally fixed the focus and I can see clearly.

Aha! My mother’s not screaming at me. She’s screaming at herself!

(Go to this link for archived ezines on part 1 and 2 of ‘The Big
Aha Moment’.

4. The Loonie Awards (Not Just Another Recovery Awards Show)

Now Who’s Talking Recovery Theatre Presents
The Loonie Awards (Not just another recovery awards show)

Mark your calendars, and get advanced tickets now to see the first
ever stigma busting show on how people recover from mental illness
and addiction. Using humour and a variety of theatrical techniques
participants tell their stories of recovery. You will laugh till
you plotz.

Performances Performance Dates:

Friday March 21 1:00 Matinee
Free admission for recipients of mental health services

Friday March 21 7:00 pm
Saturday March 22 7:00 pm

St. James Community Square,
3214 West 10th Ave (at Trutch)
$12 advance $15 at the door

For more information and advance tickets email:

What is Now Who’s Talking Recovery Theatre?

Now Who’s Talking Recovery Theatre is a new, exciting project
funded by Vancouver Coastal Health’s CIF program where people learn
how to tell their recovery stories in the context of theatre. Since
September of 2007 eight participants have been hard at work
learning acting, writing and other theatre skills to bring this
ground breaking, barrier breaking show to our community.

5. ‘Now Who’s Crazy Now?’ The Play
What is mental illness? Is it a health condition characterized by
dramatic alterations in mood, thinking and behaviour? Is it a
chemical imbalance? Or is it the common euphemisms we hear tossed
about daily like ‘out of your mind’ or ‘nutty as a fruit cake’.
What is recovery and how do we achieve this elusive goal?

In this fast paced, one-woman play ‘Now Who’s Crazy Now?’ I
chronicle my experience living with and recovering from a serious
mental illness. ‘Now Who’s Crazy Now?’ is highly entertaining and
educational, with a message that there is hope for recovery for

Some audience feedback:

“…thank you for an uplifting, poignant, funny, sad, thought
provoking and above all inspiring evening.”

” …an inspirational real life story that demonstrates Elly’s
ability to turn her pain into power.”

“Brilliant, fun AND, most importantly, entertaining education.”

More info at

For bookings contact: el**@wh**********.com

6. About Elly
Elly Litvak is a mental health coach, consultant and public
speaker. She is driven by the passion, the knowledge, and the
experience that recovery is possible for everyone. Elly is
committed to supporting people in recovery, as well as the
families, friends and mental health
professionals of those in recovery.

7. Coaching & Mental Health Services
Who’s Crazy Now? Provides mental health coaching, consulting and
public speaking services to people in recovery, their families and
friends and mental health professionals.

Privacy Policy
You’re privacy will always be respected. Your name and email
address will never be sold or given to anyone.

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8. Subscription Information
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Copyright Elly Litvak 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Who’s Crazy Now? Mental Health Services, 603-1949 Comox St., Vancouver, BC V6G 1R7, CANADA

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