The Author

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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
I am overcoming schizophrenia, and I believe others can too. Here is how I am managing my condition...

Monday, September 8, 2014

The "Optimal Wellness Challenge"

Calling All Peers- Are YOU up for the OPTIMAL WELLNESS CHALLENGE?!

I am challenging US to practice a couple of coping tools consistently for National Recovery Month, that you would like to either add or maintain in your wellness routine for 5 consecutive days each week for three weeks. I've heard that if an individual maintains a practice for 21 days it will become a habit.

These practices may include:

1) Diet/nutrition & supplemental enhancement,
2) Spirituality-based,
3) Treatment/medication compliance,
4) Physical activity,
5) Effective communication,
6) Alternative therapy,
7) Creative practice, or
8) Other positive practice...

I would like you to choose two new habit-forming activities you would like to practice and report back at the end of each week by sending me a personal message about your progress.

I will start our "Optimal Wellness Challenge" by journaling more frequently, taking my medication at the same time every day, and to practice meditation for 10 minutes each day, starting tomorrow, September 9th.

I'll keep a personal journal on my progress and shortcomings, and blog about my "wellness outcomes" on my "Overcoming Schizophrenia" blog at the end of this month in recognition of National Recovery Month.

Show your support, and join me on OUR "Optimal Wellness Challenge!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Year of the Peer" Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network Conference

A couple of weeks ago I visited St. Simon's Island, Georgia to attend the annual Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Inc. (GMHCN) conference. The theme of this year's conference was "The Year of the Peer." I enjoyed the three-day conference because of the fellowship with my peers and the honor to be one of the keynote speakers among Georgia's Commissioner Frank Berry and Jana Spalding.

I titled my talk, "I Choose To Live!," which was inspired by Jen's award title. I spoke about my experiences, how I am living a quality life in recovery, and what peer support looks like. My talk encouraged everyone to talk to their neighbor and to create a title for their inspirational book. The experience was amazing because I was able to get each individual to help others with their talents and gifts.

Moreover, every attendee received a copy of my book, which was so exciting! I signed my book for others throughout the remaining days of the conference and made a lot of contacts. I also facilitated a workshop on my book: What's on My Mind? A Collection of Blog Entries from "Overcoming Schizophrenia." I offered a preview of my book by selecting specific sections to focus on  and had a wonderful discussion with the participants in my class. For example, I asked them what their "good days" looked like and what they aspired to do.

The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Inc. (GMHCN) facilitates the state's Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) training in addition to several training courses such as Mental Health First Aid, Wellness, Recovery, Action, Plan (WRAP), and the Respect Institute of Georgia. The organization manages a few peer-led respite centers throughout the state. And each year during the month of August they hosts a conference for people living in recovery and who are adding continuing education units for their Certified Peer Specialist certification.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Five Ways To Gain Relief And To Cope With Voices

Today my co-workers and I offered support to our peer who was struggling with discouraging voices. She looked extremely overwhelmed and stressed. This was not the first time she sought relief with our help, however, each time we try to offer a caring hand during tough moments like this.  All three of us offered support to her in diverse ways that included:

  1. Repeat positive affirmations aloud, 
  2. Sing a song,
  3. Listen to soothing music,
  4. Give a hug, and
  5. Encourage prayer
One of the few affirmations we repeated was: "I am strong..." In addition to that we reinforced encouraging words by making positive statements about her triumph over the voices. As a group we recited the song: "Lean On Me." And we listened to a loving song on the internet through a cell phone- Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." Also, one of us was led to give her a hug, another recited a short prayer with her. Afterwards, she looked much better, and was able to go about her day; also we felt better knowing that she was in a better place with wellness.

Hearing voices can be tormenting. I remember hearing cruel voices that sounded like evil cartoon characters, however, I was convinced they were real and were coming from the people around me. The voices aggressively stated: "You will never make it!" "You are a dishonor to your family!" and other mean statements that did not make sense to me. Although I do not hear voices today, I occasionally cope with disturbing thoughts. When negative thoughts cross my mind I change my focus on reality at that moment, or create a "good' thought such as what brought me joy recently.

Currently, I work part-time as a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS). A CPS is an individual who is living in recovery with mental illness and mentors and advocates on behalf of peers with mental illness. Sometimes my work requires that I find alternative ways to offer support to others who are challenged by their symptoms and daily concerns with others. When helping another individual cope with voices the situation encourages me to act outside the typical role as staff member. This is a challenging task, but can be overcome. Today, my co-workers and I found five strategies to help our peer find relief from the voices. Therefore, I encourage peers, family members, and supporters to practice these five steps, but not in any order, instead go down the list until the individual gets relief.

What are some other ways someone can either cope with the voices alone, or support someone who is suffering with voices?