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Showing posts from September, 2008

Why Do They Stop Taking Their Medication

Since medication is so important to the person with schizophrenia why do they stop taking their medication? As mentioned before in group we discussed the reasons why people with schizophrenia stop taking their medication, this is what we came up with:
They are discouraged with the improvements in their symptomsThey are in denial that they have a mental illnessThey think you don't need the medication because they feel betterThe harsh side effects such as tardive dyskinesia or abnormal involuntary movements (usually in the hands, feet, tongue, or lips), akathisia or restlessness, muscle stiffness, tremorsThey have simply run out of medicationThey can't afford the medicationThere is hope. As mentioned earlier by Wandering Coyote (http://stigma-busters.blogspot.com/) there is an injection that people with schizophrenia could take. Risperidone or Risperdal Consta long-acting injection if the person has trouble taking the oral form of medication. The injections are performed by a hea…

California Advance Health Care Directive

In the state of California health professionals provide patients with an Advance Health Care Directive form. Doctors can give patients information and advice, however, the patient has the right to accept or refuse treatment. I think the Advance Health Care Directive is a proactive initiative that everybody should have.

The Advance Health Care Directive is a written statement that gives authority to another person in place of the patient, when they are unable to make medical decisions. If the patient is 18 years old or older and of sound mind they can complete the Advance Health Care Directive form. If you are too sick to make a decision, doctors will ask your closest relative or friend to make decisions for you. However, the Advance Health Care Directive prevents doctors from having to find the closest relative or friend to make decisions for you because your "agent" would already be stated in the form. The form is great because it states the kind of treatment you want and do…

Lets Talk About It

Why don't people talk about schizophrenia? The public seems to overlook schizophrenia. I see commercials about bipolar disorder and depression, but not schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia affects 2 to 3 million Americans, yet many people do not openly admit to having the illness. And I do agree you should be selective on who you tell because of discrimination. There is a stigma attached to schizophrenia. Usually people think that individuals who have schizophrenia are violent, however this is not the case; they are usually victims of crime (The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia). They are discriminated against in housing and jobs, I have experienced this while looking for housing. The landlord would not rent the room to me because she thought the voices and my potential roommate would cause too much stress. Little did she know that I no longer hear voices because of my medication.

I think that people are afraid of individuals with a schizophrenia because they are ignorant of the illne…

What Next?

You have been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia or some form of mental illness, so what next? Here's what I did after my diagnosis...
Find a psychiatrist- someone who prescribes medicationApply for social securitiy disability- you may need it if it is hard for you to keep a job due to disabilityApply for health insurance- it comes with SSITalk to a psychologist or therapist- they help you adjust to your illnessJoin a peer group- NAMI (www.nami.org) has peer groups all over the U.S., join oneLearn about your illness- I found books and read information off the InternetTake your medication- it is the most important thing you could do to recoverStay positive there is hope with treatmentBuild relationships with health care providers- I joined a peer group that is lead by my therapist and it meets under a weekly basis and I have a good relationship with my therapistBe honest with health care providers- I have open dialogue with my health care provider because I know that they are the…

Recovery-What does It Mean to You?

What does recovery mean? It asked this same question on the NAMI survey that will be ending September 30th. The survey rates states on public mental health care.

Recovery to me is getting your life back. Recovery is an ongoing process that demands attention and effort to maintain. It cannot be attained overnight. Recovery is a lifelong goal that requires steps to success. Recovery is living a healthy lifestyle emotionally, mentally, and physically. Recovery is:
Having a hopeful outlook on life in spite of having a mental illnessFeeling better about yourselfPlaying an active role in the community by participating in clubhouses, peer groups, or other rehabilitation centersTalking about symptoms with a health care providerBeing aware of your illness and not in denialPerforming some duty that makes you feel better about yourself such as volunteering or workingBeing responsible by taking your medicationMaking and maintaining relationshipsTaking control of your attitude and behaviorManaging s…

MentalMeds News Article-No More Voices, No More Demons

As mentioned before, MentalMeds News allowed me to write an article on my personal experience with schizophrenia. MentalMeds News contains information on medical treatment for depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, sexual dysfunction and other forms of mental illness. Below is some details from my article, No More Voices, No More Demons, however if you want the full version you should visit MentalMeds News and look at Issue 8 located at http://www.MentalMeds.org/ . If you are interested in the newsletters and want to get on the mailing list contact the author of the website, Kevin Thompson, PhD, at meds@mentalmeds.org.
The day of my breakdown, I remember feeling so intensely that demons were following me. I tried everything to get away and even tried to disguise myself. I thought if I held a cigarette, which I abhor, I could mislead them. I decided to get rid of my things that I carried with me at all times-my Bible and my glasses. I was about to cut off all my hair to diguise my…

Detrimentally in Denial

"I am NOT sick!" I shouted at the nurse. "You are sick. We had to send you to the emergency room three times to stick an IV in you because you were not eating. Yesterday, the guard had to drag you in your chair back to your room because you would not get up and return to your room. You are sick," said Urwin... followed by my silence. "Will you please take your medicine now?" said the nurse.

There were so many incidents such as this that I am finally able to put together with the help of my family. On one of the incidents when I had to go to Court, I refused to put my shoes on. They did not know, nor did I, that I was catatonic. They ended up strapping me down to the wheelchair, arms and legs. I went to Court that day, barefoot. I learned from my mom that this was so unexpected by everyone and caused an uproad in the courtroom. This probably does not happen much but even the District Attorney, whose job is to slam me, remained silent and accepted whatever …

THANK YOU For Your Support

I just want to thank everyone who has left a comment on my blog. When I first started this blog I did not know what type of response I would get, but now that I have the ball rolling I am very satisfied with the turnout. I hope this blog will help overcome some of the stigma attached to schizophrenia and encourage those living with a mental illness that there is hope. Thank you for your continuous support!

Common Misconceptions About Schizophrenia

There is a stimga attached to schizophrenia due to ignorance of the illness. Here are some common misconceptions about schizophrenia:
All people living with schizophrenia are violent. - This is a misperception pushed by the media. However, people living with schizophrenia are no more violent than the general population. In fact, they are more likely to withdraw from people out of fear when experiencing psychotic symptoms.Schizophrenia is caused by dsyfunctional families. - It is nobody's fault why someone develops schizophrenia. However, conflicts make symptoms worsen and increase the risk of a relapse.Schizophrenia is the same as split personality. - People with a split personality have a disorder called "dissociative disorder". People who have schizophrenia have one personality. The word schizophrenia means "split mind," psychotic symptoms make reality unreal to people with schizophrenia.There is no hope for recovery. - There is treatment for schizophrenia, us…

The Clubhouse- A Rehabilitation Center

The clubhouse is a community for people with a mental disorder. The clubhouse helps people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses readjust to life. The clubhouse provides numerous rehabilitation services such as the following:
CounselingEducational SupportEmployment ServicesHousingRecreation TherapyOther Services
Counseling is provided through peer groups that teach people how to cope and overcome anger management, domestic violence, manage symptoms, and substance abuse. Registering for high school or college enables members to get back into school. Educating people on how to obtain a job through resume help, interviewing tips, and application assistance. In addition to that having counselors seek jobs that meet the member's qualifications. The clubhouse provides resources to get affordable housing for independent living establishments and other housing options including welfare. Supervised leisure activities such as art classes, cooking, or an outing to the museum, or some o…

How To Cope With Stress

Random House Webster's Dictionary defines stress as physical, mental, or emotional tension. There are positive stress factors as well as negative stressors that may worsen symptoms in people with schizophrenia. However, this information is for everyone, not just people with schizophrenia.

The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia gives several examples of things that trigger stress which may include but are not limited to the following: a move, problem in a relationship, having a baby, getting married or divorced, starting a new job, experiencing a death in the family, or being ill.

The book goes further to identify signs of stress that include: headaches, indigestion, increased heart rate, or muscular tension. Problems concentrating, mood disturbance, becoming irritable, anxious, or depressed. Other behaviors that suggest stress are nail biting, restlessness, explosive outburst, drinking or using drugs.

Some coping mechanisms to overcome stress include:
JournalWatching television or…

Why Do I Need Support?

Having a support group or a friend other than your doctor is crucial to recovery. Here are some reasons why someone with schizophrenia should have a close friend or family member to talk to:


To relieve stress- because there will be times when you get frustrated with family or people at work and you need someone to talk to to relieve stress.
To help cope with symptoms- a friend could tell you that everything will be okay when you are feeling anxious or nervous.
To help recognize reoccurring symptoms- a friend could notice psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia or suspicion, returning and bring about awareness in order to respond in the correct manner.
To help prevent a relapse- a friend could notify your doctor or a member of your treatment team when psychotic symptoms continue. Or they could take you to the hospital when needed.
To remind you to take your medication- a friend could make sure that you are taking your medication.
To help recover from a relapse- a friend could help you readjust…

Overcoming Panic Attacks and Anxiety

About 5 percent of the population will experience a panic attack in their lifetime. While 1 out of 75 people worldwide will experience a panic attack at one time in their lives. I am about to share some information with you that I learned from Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett's book Soothe Your Nerves.

A panic attack includes four or more of the following symptoms:

Increased heart rate, heart pounding
Sweating
Trembling or shaking
Chills or hot flashes
Chest pain
Shortness of breath or smothering
Feeling dizzy or light-headed
Upset stomach or nausea or abdominal distress
Feeling of losing control or going crazy
Fear of dying
Numbing or tingling sensations
Feeling that this isn't really happening to you or that you are watching it happen
To treat a panic attack at home follow the tips below:Relax your shouldersProgressively tense and relax all large muscle groups such as your legsSlow down your breathingTell yourself that you are not "going crazy"There are six classifications of anxiety med…

A Relapse Prevention Plan

I read the chapter "Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan" by Kim T. Mueser, PhD, and Susan Gingerich, MSW, in their book The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia I found some interesting information on how to prevent a relapse.

First, the early warning signs of a relapse vary, and sometimes some relapses do not have any warnings. However here are some common early warning signs to watch out for:
Social WithdrawSuspicious of Others
Irritability
Depression
Appetite Changes
Sleeping Too Much or Too Little
Change in Routine or Unusual Behavior
Concentration Problems
Feeling Anxious or Nervous
Social withdraw could be an indication that psychotic symptoms are returning, and the individual feels that people are either against them or they are hearing voices. Feeling irritable could mean feeling annoyed by things that don't usually annoy you, or feeling impatient and on the edge. Some people may feel depressed or worthless and not carry an interest in things that used to preoccupy thei…

Independent Living For People Living With Schizophrenia

What is independent living? Independent living is a home for people that need a little extra help caring for themselves. It is a steping stone for people to mature into their own independent living arrangement. The home has a house manager that lives there and provides supervised distribution of medication and prepared meals. There is usually a curfew to make sure that people are safe, and visiting hours. It is great for a lot of people including those with a mental illness, people who are handicap, and the elderly. I would recommend independent living for those who need help taking their medication, and as a temporary living arrangement until that person is stable and responsible to take their own medication.

Here are some reasons why independent living should be a viable option compared to living at home with a parent or sibling:

Feeling more independent or self-reliantLess stress on familyLess disagreements with parents and siblingsMore freedom to do what you want to do
I have lived i…

My Experience With Discrimination

A few months ago I was looking for a room to rent. While talking to the owner about rent money, she asked me where my income came from, and I told her that I get social security. She went on to ask me what my disability was, so I told her that I have schizophrenia. Then she suggested that I may have a difficult time living there because of stress, and my potential roommate talks a lot, and I may not be able to concentrate on my studies for school.

What does she know about schizophrenia to make such a rationalization?! Maybe if she knew I was on medication and did not have any symptoms she would rent the room to me. Fortunately her room wasn't my top choice.

Therefore I did not tell future owners that I had schizophrenia, because I did not know how much they knew about the illness. Instead, I simply told them that I was a student and that my parents would pay my rent.

What do you think about this situation? If you were renting a room out, would you allow a person with schizophrenia to…

MentalMeds News And My Story

MentalMeds News (www.mentalmeds.org) wants me to contribute an article on my experience with schizophrenia (also read the post "My Nervous Breakdown," below). I am excited about the opportunity, because I will get a chance to dismantle the stigma attached to schizophrenia by educating people about the illness. Wish me luck as I aspire to write a profound piece about my story.

A Moment of Silence for 9/11 Anniversary

On September 11, 2001 four commercial air planes were hijacked, and intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and a rural area in Pennsylvania. Members of al-Qaede are responsible for the terrorists attacks. Excluding the 19 hijackers, 2,974 people died as a result of the attacks.

Now we will have a moment of silence for the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

What Is A Strong Person To You?

This proverb was written anonymously and can be found in the book The Language of Courage and Inner Strength.

People are like tea bags.
You fiind out how strong they are
when you put them in hot water.

Do you think that having an illness can make people stronger?

Yes, I think that people living with AIDS, cancer, schizophrenia, and other illnesses are strong people because the disease trys to suck the life out of them, but they won't let it. Fortunately with treatment they can overcome.

This proverb was written by Maya Angelou, and is from the book Words of Hope and Courage.

I can be changed
by what happens
to me.
I refuse to be reduced
by
it.

Again, do you think that having an illness can make people stronger? What is a strong person to you?

NAMI Survey

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is administrating a survey about healthcare for people with a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression). The survey only takes 10 to 15 minutes and must be completed by September 30, 2008. The survey is also written in Spanish. To take the survey visit NAMI at

http://www.nami.org

Please support NAMI's efforts to promote the survey by sharing this information with family, friends, and coworkers.

Do you feel that public healthcare for people with a mental illness is sufficient? What did you think about the survey?

My Nervous Breakdown

A little over a year ago my psychotic episode led me to steal a military truck. I took the truck in hopes of escaping the "demons". I thought everybody was after me. By committing this crime health professionals were able to diagnose me with schizophrenia. This crime landed my five months in a jail and in a hospital.

At first I thought I was in hell, then I thought being in jail was a hoax. I told my mother not put any money towards my bail. My family was very supportive. They visited me, wrote emails, and collected bail money from the family. However, my sickness would not allow them to get too close. I denied visits, mail, and would not call anyone. In my mind I felt blocked to see my family. Whenever I got mail I would throw it away. My illness had taken over. Therefore they did not immediately bail me out when they had the money because they wanted me to get better first. I was not the same person. I did not do the things that I enjoyed such as going to Bible study and b…

Are People Living With Schizophrenia More Likely to Commit Suicide?

A person on a chat group said he read an article that said people living with schizophrenia are more likely to commit suicide within five years of their diagnosis.

I cannot find the article, however, I did find a book called 50 Signs of Mental Illness by James Whitney Hicks, M.D., that said, "Approximately one out of every ten patients with schizophrenia commit suicide, usually during the first ten years of illness". Hicks gives some reasons why people with schizophrenia commit suicide: 'the person is experiencing psychosis and believe that the world is against them, or they are confused by their symptoms'. Another explanation is that 'they are disturbed by their diagnosis'. There is hope, Hicks recommends a drug called clozapine to reduce the risk of suicide. In general, people with schizophrenia should take medication reduce to the risk of suicide.

Here are some tips if you think someone is suicidal (National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)):
Do not leave th…

Welcome Silence My Triumph Over Schizophrenia by Carol S. North, M.D.- A Great Read

Welcome Silence is a phenonmenal reading about an incredible woman. The author, Carol North, gives a fascinating description of what it is like to live with schizophrenia. She is incredible because in spite of her disease she manages to get through college and medical school.

I like the book because I can relate to the author. For example, North stresses that people can read her mind, I , too, have experienced this and wouldn't talk to people, because I felt that it wasn't necessary. Like North, I was catatonic and would stay in the same position for hours. After I got out of the catatonic stage doctors worried that I would go back into a catatonic state if they changed my medication as I had insisted with abilify. However, I was able to change my medication as I requested to abilify.

This book is an inspiration that I can complete college and live a productive life despite my illness. In addition, I would like to write a book about my experience. I strongly recommend Welcome Si…

Do I Have Schizophrenia?

A woman on another blog asked the question: "Do I have schizophrenia?" She admits to drinking a lot and having confused thoughts and anxiety that someone will break into her house. While drinking she often says bizzare things and lies to family and friends. I replied:

I am not a doctor, but if I were you I would contact a psychiatrist for further investigation. The book, The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia is a very helpful text that I frequently refer back to for information, and is where I gathered the information I am about to share with you.

Schizophrenia and mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and depression, are commonly mistaken. You can find a psychiatrist through your local chapter of Nation Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the yellow pages, or your family doctor.

A diagnosis of schizophrenia depends on a number of factors including the age of the onset, how long you have been experiencing symptoms, and your level of functioning.
Some symptoms include but …

Types of Symptoms

In group today we discussed the symptoms of schizophrenia. There are three types of symptoms:
Positive SymptomsNegative SymptomsCognitive SymptomsPositive symptoms include: hallucinations and delusions. I experienced a lot of positive symptoms like hearing voices, seeing things, and paranoia. The voices told me that I was a dishonor to my family and that I wouldn't succeed if I were to move out on my own. An example of a positive symptom that I encountered was thoughts of the neighbor spying on me, and giving information to my family. However, I foolishly confronted the neighbor and discovered that my accusations were false. On another occassion I thought that my roommate was going into my room and going through my belongings. I believed this to the extent of putting a lock on my door to put an end to the worrying. One day while walking home I thought I saw a strange man following me, and meant to kidnap me. I rushed into a nearby grocery store and waited until the man disappeared.…

Overcoming Schizophrenia

Hello, I am a young African American female who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Recently, I discovered that I had schizophrenia through an unfortuante experience that landed me five months in jail and in the hospital.

Suffering from schizophrenia during my college years led me to drop out of school due to the stresses of life. I heard voices but thought they were the people around me or in my cellular phone. I also experienced paranoia relative to delusions. I thought that people were gossiping about me and were against me, or following me. I experienced anxiety with groups of people and often strayed away from social activities. At one point I thought I had the gift of discernment whereas I could decipher "evil" spirits from "good" spirits in people. These delusions deterioated my relationships with professors and peers.

Now I am recovering through medication and therapy. I am taking a medication called abilify. I read books on the illness, keep a journal, and blog…