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...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Phase II The Bright Side of Schizophrenia: The Beast/Learning Experience

Recovery is an ongoing process that demands time, a good attitude, and support (on-line and/or off-line). While there is no cure for schizophrenia, yet, recovery is possible. To me, recovery is being able to function and to take care of daily activities. This could mean a lot of different things to people. What does recovery mean to you?

Setting goals is a part of recovery. Goals could be long-term and short-term. For me, my goal is to complete college. To keep this goal alive I vocalize this goal by telling people I will return to school this fall. In addition, I visited colleges and did some research on the Internet to see which college I would like to attend. What is your goal?

Motivation to get well helps tremendously and allowing other people to support you helps even more. While I was recooperating in the hospital my mother exercised with me and played word games with me to: 1) help reduce stiffness due to my medication and 2) to stimulate my mind. What motivates you to keep going despite your mental illness?

After the institution, I joined a treatment program for young adults and learned more about my mental illness. Educating yourself or another's mental illness is being proactive, in order, to know what to expect and to be prepared.

Schizophrenia can be a beast or a learning experience that makes you stronger, you have a choice which role schizophrenia or any mental illness will play in your life. Which role have you chose?

Again, think of these questions: what does recovery mean to you? What is your goal? What motivates you to keep going despite mental illness, or your loved one's mental illness? Which role have you chose- schizophrenia or mental illness as the beast or a learning experience?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada). Also, join my forum at Embracing My Mind.

Phase II The Bright Side of Schizophrenia: Changing Attitutdes

I look at having a mental disability as a challenge to overcome. A positive outlook on life with schizophrenia helps me cope with the illness. Also, learning more about schizophrenia through Internet sources and other people's experiences helps me believe I can and will overcome schizophrenia. Refusing to let schizophrenia control me, I have a hold on it through medication and support. I take my medication regularly, discuss schizophrenia information with my family, and I share my experience with other people online.

In my opinion, changing your attitude about schizophrenia or any mental illness is essential to overcome it. To me, overcoming schizophrenia means being responsible by confronting issues. Issues related to schizophrenia include: medication compliance, asking for support and giving support, and educating one self about their mental illness.

For example, discussing a medication regimen with family or a support team. Let everybody know when you plan to take your medication, how much medication you are taking, and if you need assistance remembering or distributing it.

Also, knowing who has your best interest and getting their support. Support could come from anyone, i.e. a partner, family member, friend, caregiver, health professional, mentor, or a counselor. If you can, support other people with mental illness through support groups online or offline, that way people can overcome mental illness together.

Be proactive and learn more your illness or a loved ones illness. There are many sources available on the Internet. To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Have the attitude that if someone else can recover I can recovery, or my friend or loved one can recover. Changing a person's attitude has to come from within, it cannot be forced. Always love yourself and try to make wise decisions to overcome mental illness or help others with mental illness. Look on the bright side of schizophrenia, take your medication or help someone else take their medication if you are a caregiver, and get support.

You are invited to share your story of how you or a loved one overcomes mental illness (i.e. schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder) by submitting a 500-word or less essay/article to the email address located on the website Embracing My Mind. I encourage you to sign my guestbook and to join my new forum at Embracing My Mind.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Phase II The Bright Side of Schizophrenia (A Series): Embrace Your Mind

Now that we have discussed the myths, stereotypes, and fears associated with having schizophrenia it is time to talk about the good things associated with the illness. I am doing a series called Phase II The Bright Side, I will discuss positive attributes related to schizophrenia. You can help me with this series by submitting a success story of mental illness (i.e. bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia) in a 500 word or less essay/article, and email it to info@embracingmymind.org, and in the subject bar label it Success Story. You do not have to attach your full name to the article, but make sure you give your first name and state. Also, please give a title to your essay/article or one will be provided. The success story will be posted on the website Embracing My Mind.

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) stated: "Studies have indicated that 25 percent of those having schizophrenia recover completely, [and] 50 percent are improved over a 10-year period..."

Understand that recovery is possible. If you or a loved one are concerned about a person who has schizophrenia, remember the facts and know that they can get better. For instance, I probably already shared this information with you, but a little less than a couple of years ago I experienced some really bad symptoms of schizophrenia to the extent that my mother thought she would need to get some sort of guardianship over me. I was catatonic, not moving my limbs for hours at a time, I refused visitors (family), and I stopped eating, showering, and speaking.

The judge said I was incompetent, and sent me to the state hospital. After my family encouraged my attorney to persuade the judge to mandate medication compliance, and was approved, I slowly but surely got better with medication and time. I started talking again, seeing family, taking care of personal hygiene, and living again!

Embrace your mind by re-learning yourself after diagnosis. Prior to my nervous breakdown I was involved in several activities- church, school, work, and cross country. However, after my diagnosis I had to learn to take things slow for a little while until I could readjust to overcoming schizophrenia. I took a break from a lot of things and slowly rearranged them into my schedule. I took a class in school and attended a day treatment program for young adults where I learned more about my illness. I even started volunteering and dating again. Now I am volunteering regularly and enjoying a new social life. Everybody is different so what worked for one person may not work for another.

Believe that there is a future after diagnosis. There is no cure for schizophrenia, yet, but there is treatment that enables a person to function well and live life. Again, SARDAA stated that 25 percent recover completely, in order words they do not experience symptoms anymore with the support of medication. If you have a mental illness, with treatment you can overcome anything you set your mind to.

Thank you for considering to join Phase II The Bright Side series by submitting a 500word or less essay/article by email to info@embracingmymind.org. To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada). Check out my new forum at Embracing My Mind.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Check Out My NEW Website and Give Feedback


Hi,
I am soo excited, I launched my new website Embracing My Mind today. It is still under construction, however, I would appreciate your feedback.

Go to "My Forum" and register to become a member, check out my "Resources and Links" page, check out "Upcoming Events"- check out everything! If you have a mental illness (i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression) related blog and would like to submit it email me: info@embracingmymind.org.

It is designed to be an all in one location for you to find out information about serious mental illness. It is not all about me, it is about us, so let's work together. Oh yeah, don't forget to sign my guestbook. Thank you for your support, and bye for now!

Ashley
http://embracingmymind.org

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Taking Steps to Advance with Schizophrenia

After my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia in the summer of 2007, and release from the institution at the end of October I took baby steps to wellness. There is a process to recovery, but everybody may not do it in the same order or in the same manner. These are the steps I took toward recovery...

I applied for Supplemental Security Income, moved into an Independent Living home, and enrolled in a county day treatment program for youth with mental illness. Typically, people are denied Supplemental Security Income on their first attempt, however, I was not. I think I got approved on the first try because I had history with the State Hospital and I had a nurse help me with my application. It took six months to get benefits.

The day treatment program was great. I attended Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) classes, in addition to other classes geared toward mental illness awareness. I took a break from school and work for a few months, however, when I returned to school I took one class to take things slow. I spent five months in an Independent Living arrangement before I rented my own room with a family. I lived with the family for four months before reuniting with my mother and sister in another state. I moved from California back to Georgia to be with my family.

When I arrived in Georgia I went to the county mental health department for a doctor, medication, and therapy. I applied for Medicaid, but was denied, however, I enrolled in the Abilify Assistance Program and I am currently receiving medication through the program. I attended therapy weekly and then I went on to a marketing internship.

Because I planned on returning to school to recieve my bachelors in business and marketing I took the internship. Now the internship has ended and I am now volunteering my marketing talents toward a non-profit organization. My next step will be to enroll into school part-time and to take two or three classes.

How did you recover from mental illness? Do you know of any scholarships for mental illness for school?

If you would like to learn more about schizophrenia I encourage you to visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Networking/Schizophrenia is More Common Than You Think

First, I am not good at networking, however, volunteering for the HIV/AIDS non-profit organization is teaching me a lot. For instance, today we spoke with a few tenants within our building and discovered they were friends with a politician who we are trying to get their support from for our upcoming event. While another tenant gave us some really good contacts and was able to donate T-shirts for volunteers. This was a great experience.
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Someone that I am working with has a sister who has schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects people close to me too, besides family. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that 1 out of 5 American families are affected by mental illness.

I was surprised to learn that someone that I work with has come into contact with the illness that I am trying to overcome, because schizophrenia affects only about one percent of the United States population. (Maybe the illness affects more people than what is being reported)?

I wanted to ask so many questions, but I held my tongue and went with the flow of the conversation. (I did not disclose my diagnosis to anyone at work). Knowing that this co-worker's sister has schizophrenia made me feel more connected with them.

As I have mentioned before, I did not even know what schizophrenia was before my diagnosis. In short, schizophrenia is a mental illness that impairs communication skills, perception of reality, and could make a person hold a conviction that has no evidence such as the FBI is after them, or someone is following them.

Although schizophrenia is a serious mental illness, there is hope. Recovery is possible. There is treatment such as anti-psychotic medications and others. Personally, I am reaping the benefits of such treatments and it is working very well for me. I hope and encourage other individuals living with mental illness to give anti-psychotic medication (under profession care) an opportunity to work wonders for them, as it has for me.

But know this, not every everybody responds to same medication as someone else, there are several types of medication to choose from. In fact, I had to try a few medications before I found one that worked for me.

To learn more about schizophrenia I encourage you to visit the following websites: 1) the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and 2) Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Afraid of Rejection

Yesterday, I missed the perfect opportunity to tell my boyfriend (who I have been dating for a little over a month) that I have schizophrenia...

Schizophrenia awareness is a strong interest for me. Am I ashamed of my mental illness because I did not tell him that I have the illness? Or am I cautious of sharing my information with others because they may be ignorant to what the illness is? I think I am the latter, because I don't mind sharing my story with strangers, also I don't think my boyfriend knows much about schizophrenia.

I got scared and did not tell him I have schizophrenia because I don't want him to reject me, but he will find out in the end. Is it better to share my diagnosis so early in the relationship or to wait?

I did not feel comfortable sharing my diagnosis with him, yet. I am going to go with my feelings and wait. I don't want it to not work out for other reasons, really soon, and for him to know my whole life story.

When I do tell him, what will I say?? Start out with a question and then go from there... do you know what schizophrenia is? I have schizophrenia. It is a mental illness that affects a person's thinking processes and ability to function because they may experience hallucinations, delusions, and communication problems. I discovered I had the illness a couple of years ago, and since then I have received treatment and I continue to learn more about my illness. Then let him ask me the questions.

This is very important to me because it is a part of me now. Five years ago I would have never thought of mental illness or it affecting me and my family. I did not even know what schizophrenia was until my diagnosis in the summer of 2007.

If you want to learn more about schizophrenia I encourage to visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When Will We Get Over Sterotypes

In the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) "Schizophrenia: Public Attitudes, Personal Needs" report stated the following statistics:

* 79% of people would want a friend to tell them if they were diagnosed with
schizophrenia, but only 46% say they would tell friends if they themselves were
diagnosed.
* 27% would be embarrassed to tell others if one of their own family members was
diagnosed.
* 80% expressed discomfort with the prospect of dating someone with schizophrenia
who has not received treatment, compared to only 49% if the person has (received
treatment).

Why are people ashamed to admit that schizophrenia affects their lives? Many people have various misconceptions about schizophrenia- people with schizophrenia are violent, lazy, or homeless. While I do not fit into the stereotype of a person with schizophrenia as well as many of my readers with schizophrenia, people continue to believe these myths.

Again, 79 percent of people would want a friend to tell them they have the illness while almost half of study participants would not admit to that diagnoses if they had schizophrenia. Why is that- that is a double standard. Why do people expect so much from others, but want leniency when it comes to their status?

Going on the second prong, why is it that a relative would be embarrassed by their family member's diagnosis of schizophrenia? Nobody is perfect, many people have medical ailments such as diabetes and cancer or undesirable personality traits such as being conceited, a pathological liar, or a gossiper- those traits should be embarrassing, but not schizophrenia. Nobody can decide who gets mental illness.

About half of survey participates would not date someone with schizophrenia even if they had treatment. This statistic really saddens me. Again, nobody is perfect and they certainly cannot determine whether they have a mental illness or not.

What do you think of these statistics? Do the statistics surprise- why or why not?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the following organization's websites: 1) the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), or 2) Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Building Professional Relationships/ Dating 101

This week I started volunteering for a non-profit organization that focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness. I am interested in HIV/AIDS awareness because I believe it is a serious issue in America that needs more attention. I will be working with this organization for the summer.

The other day I attended a town hall meeting that discussed safety and community involvement to decrease the selling of drugs in the business area. After the meeting the executive director and I handed out business cards and networked with participants.

The executive director, who I will be closely working with this summer is going to educate me on how a non-profit organization operates, like an internship, and I will contribute to marketing needs and speaking engagements. I am very excited about this opportunity, and I got to thinking that I could start a non-profit organization or clubhouse that focuses on schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

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When I first started this blog, I thought it was going to be a diary-like blog, however, it has turned somewhat informative and therapeutic to discuss schizophrenia. I have been blogging for eight months now, I think I am ready to take it to the next level, and since this whole blog is personal I want to share with you something that is not too often touched on in mental illness... dating.

Recently, I started dating a man whom I am very interested in- he has a good job, great dating etiquette, and is handsome and single. I hope to keep him as friend for long time, so I don't want to run him away with the knowledge of my mental illness, so I did not tell him about it. We have been dating for about month now, how long should I wait before I tell him that I have schizophrenia? Or should I even tell him at all? Not that there is an urgency to share this information, however, I think it is important to be honest with friends.

I think it is kind of important to share the fact that I have a mental illness to friends, because they can be very beneficial by vocalizing symptoms, getting more information about the illness, and reminding one to take their medication.

Questions for You
If you have a mental illness, how long was it before you shared your diagnosis with your partner? If you are a friend, caregiver, family member, or someone interested in mental illness, would you date someone with a mental illness- why or why not?

If you want to learn more about schizophrenia I encourage you to check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada). Thank you for reading this blog and commenting!