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HOPE: The Strength to Overcome

It has been two years since I was released from the institution, in jail and in the state hospital, in California. After my release I was thirsty for knowledge about my illness, schizophrenia.

I remember going to the nearby pharmacy to get a prescription and then doing research on the computer on schizophrenia. I got involved in an outpatient treatment facility, called Providence Community Services: Catalyst, in San Diego through a referral from my social worker in jail.

At that point I did not have a clue that I would strive to help others with mental health concerns by sharing my experience on a blog or leading groups. I did not even know what blogging was or that I could start my own non-profit organization.

Catalyst was awesome. They provided a clubhouse, Oasis, that offered several groups and services such as Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), help finding employment, and cooking classes among several other services. I really grew there mentally. I got back into college and was well balanced, and doing the things I enjoyed again.

After a few months I moved back to Atlanta to be closer to my mother and sister. I went to the County mental health department, participated in groups, and started blogging in September 2008.

Starting a blog was my sister's idea. She said it would allow me to keep track of my moods and improvements, blogging would be like my online diary. I blogged everyday about things I learned about my illness from books I had read and about the groups I attended at County mental health.

Now I am facilitating groups at the center where I receive treatment with the support of my therapist. I also facilitate groups at another facility. Through this experience I have learned what my strengths are and that with hope and support I can live the life I want to live despite having a mental health diagnosis. I also believe that if I can live the life I want to live, you can too!

Thank you for reading about my experience with living with schizophrenia. I hope this post inspires you to move forward after you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a mental illness.

I believe my wellness and ability to function at the level where I am now to organize, perform research, and to teach others is a blessing from God. I especially thank my family and treatment team for supporting me. I welcome questions, comments, and other opinions related to this blog.

To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).


The Medcalfs said…
Hello! I follow your blog and admire your drive to help others. My son is in recovery but is not on meds but using coping skills and therapy to help with his positive symptoms. The meds he tried had awful awful side effects and he said were not helping his positive symptoms go away. My question is do your meds alleviate your positive symptoms or are they still there even on the meds? We know he has to be the one to want to take the meds and since he is accepting of his illness, that is a BIG plus! He is so awesome and I admire him every day for how he handles all this. Thanks for your blog and thanks for listening.
NAMI Mom in TN
Valash said…
Hello NAMI Mom in TN,

Everyone responds differently to meds. For me, I know I did not respond well to the first meds I tried, and like you son experienced, the side effects were bad. I am so glad that he has insight!

I am not a doctor to recommend medication, but this is what worked for my positive symptoms, Abilify. After I tried Geodon and Zyprexa, I tried Abilify. It's trial and error. Now the symptoms are gone, I do NOT hear voices and I am NOT delusional.

Best wishes,

Lady_Amanda said…
Hi Ashely,

You always read my blog so religously. I just realized today you have a link to my blog on your page. Thank you. I am sorry I haven't written in a while. I was crazy busy.

I loved your post. I like you I went to group therapy. I had never stopped going to college, but I wasn't putting my all into college because I thought school was all I had. I didn't see a future beyond classes and living with my parents. I have achieved so much and hoped for so much because of the group therapy I been through. I even actually graduated college and am going to be moving out on my own. You are an inspiration. I know I am not alone because of you. You are proof there is life after diganoses.

Thanks with blessings,

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