It has been one year since I started the Overcoming Schizophrenia blog (Yay!) and we have learned a lot about schizophrenia and other mental illnesses together. In short, I have blogged about the gender differences in schizophrenia, hardship with health insurance companies, myths and stereotypes, dating and relationships, and of course, my bizarre encounters when schizophrenia took over and portrayed the other side of Ashley (i.e., confusion, anger, fear, denial,etc.).
Again, I learned of my paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis in the summer of 2007 when I had an unfortunate situation that led to my arrest, hospitalization, and eventual recovery stage. Since then, I have experienced independent living with other women with mental health concerns, reuniting with my immediate family, and volunteering with various non-profit organizations; and starting a support group, Embracing My Mind.
I continue to take medication to help cope with the symptoms of schizophrenia, (i.e., for me, hallucinations- seeing things that are not there and hearing threatening voices that other people do not hear- high anxiety and paranoia, delusional- believing that I was a prophet or Jesus Christ Himself! And believing that my own relatives would poison me?!), I am blessed that these symptoms are under control and dormant.
Participating in various support groups has inspired me to get involved in mental health education through this blog, and to even start a support group, Embracing My Mind, which will kickoff on September 17th at the local mental health center, and I am VERY EXCITED!
Through Embracing My Mind, I will share my experiences with paranoid schizophrenia, and strive to achieve a safe haven for other people living with, and who are affected by, mental health concerns. Hopefully, the support group will create bonds among group participants and enable everyone to try and overcome mental illness together by voluntarily taking responsibility for their recovery, goals, and empowering one another. For the time being, the group is only for a specific clinic, however, when I reserve space elsewhere the group will be open to everyone; families, caregivers, consumers (people living with mental health concerns); male and female, etc.
In fact, I will be attending the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) training this weekend, and I will blog about that experience with you shortly afterwards. I appreciate you for coming back to read about my opinions and experiences related to mental illness. If you have schizophrenia or are connected to the illness in some way and keep a blog please share your link and I will post it with the other 'schizophrenia blogs'.
If you are a partner, parent, child, caregiver, friend, health professional, or consumer affected by any sort of mental illness, I want you to believe that recovery is possible. When schizophrenia hit me hard, I pushed those that love me away, believed that everyone was suspect, stopped eating, showering, and LIVING...I cried for no reason, stopped doing the things I enjoyed such as going to church and writing, and scared myself by believing that everyone was a demon, and had mixed emotions about everyone because I believed I could read their minds, which had bizarre and conflicting thoughts.
These last couple of days I attended group therapy at the local mental health center, and by just being there and hearing different people's testimonies it reminded me of God's love. Group participants spoke candidly about their own situations and were frank and loving while giving others their opinions and suggestions.
Thursday, September 10, 2009 is World Suicide Prevention Day, I encourage you to observe this day because it affects so many people with mental illnesses, and other people.
To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia(Canada). Also, check out Embracing My Mind(EMM).