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...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Positive?!

Someone commented on one of my posts and implied that I was too positive. There will be ups and downs for the individual living with a mental illness as well as for their family and/or caregiver.

However, I am at a very positive state in my life right now, but it has not always been the case. To tell you the truth I went through hell to get to where I am now, and I've written many blogs on the horrible experiences I've encountered while living with this illness!

Can you imagine being watched constantly, and everyone around you are after you? And you are scared because you are outnumbered!

I had a nervous breakdown at the age of 20, I heard voices, saw strange people, and was disoriented. Psychosis led me to do something stupid and that incident led me to jail and to the state hospital for five months. Prior to this incident I never went to jail or committed a crime.

I isolated myself during that time in my life from everyone. I even told my mother I didn't want to see her anymore, which was very hurtful. I denied visits from family even though I wanted to see them, my mind played many tricks on me, and at the time I was a wreck because I did not understand why I was acting the way I was.

I was hungry many times but I refused to eat and drink because I believed someone was trying to poison me. This is the paranoia that many people living with a mental illness experience. I heard discouraging, awful, mean voices that nobody else could hear. I remember the voices telling me I was a dishonor to my family, and that I could not survive on my own. Sometimes there were multiple voices at once which frustrated me.

For a while I wouldn't speak, shower, or even leave my room to eat or go outside. Sometimes I wouldn't sleep because I thought my peers in jail would attack me in my sleep, this led to high anxiety and additional stress. I would experience panic attacks, nurses held brown bags over my face in order for me to breath and gave me anxiety medication.

Guards held me down in order for nurses to give me shots because I refused to take the oral form or medication, my family encouraged medication compliance by the judge, after all that I did not believe I was sick! And the side effects of these medications were very uncomfortable, I had to stay in constant movement I was so restless, and as a result I couldn't sleep. Another medication made me sleep all the time and it made it hard for me to stay awake during groups. One medication made me so stiff peers called me a robot.

I've shared these incidents over a range of diverse posts. So when someone says I am too positive I do not apologize, haven't I been through enough? I just hope that others will see the light soon and experience something that will make them feel more positive too.

Thank you for reading about my story and for giving your opinions on my experiences.

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanks

I ended one of my groups the other day by going around the room and letting people share what they are thankful for.(I lead closed groups, not open to the public, at various facilities).

I am thankful that I am able to function well, organize, research, and to lead groups. As you probably already know, if you follow this blog regularly, I have come a long way to get to where I am now. In the past, schizophrenia tried to hinder me, take away my speech, make it hard for me to recognize family, and almost kill me by my excessive paranoia and determination not eat or drink. But now, I have hold on my brain disorder; I take my medication regularly, I continue to learn more about different mental illnesses, and I have support of family, friends, and health professionals.

What are you thankful for?

If you have a mental health concern such as schizophrenia, you are not alone, I can understand you. If you are a caregiver, family member, or friend of someone living with a mental illness believe that recovery is possible and that your special someone can get better. I am living proof that people living with a mental illness do come back and live productive, independent lives!

For those of you learning what schizophrenia is for the first time, it is a thought disorder that is difficult to treat but is treatable. There is no cure for it, yet, however with a combination of medication and support people living with schizophrenia can lead fulfilling lives. I am one of them.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stereotypes- A Voice or a Sound We Should Ignore


Society has programmed many people living without mental illness to believe that those living with mental illness are bad. The media has played a huge role in brain washing people to think negatively about other people with brain disorders. They cannot do the same things I do, they are violent, they are crazy, the people without mental illness are led to believe.

And, many people with mental illnesses believe these lies. The people with mental illnesses limit their goals and believe they cannot lead a productive, independent, full life in many instances as a result of stigma.

DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT VOICE (the stereotypes). An individual with mental illness can and do accomplish many things despite mental health concerns. In fact, people that have a mental illness should use these stereotypes as motivation to overcome them. For those of you living with a mental illness I hope you will challenge yourself and excel at it.

At one point, I was not functioning well. I did not speak, bath, eat, or leave my room. In fact, I was catatonic, not moving my limbs for hours at a time. Schizophrenia had the best of me, or so others thought. After taking various medications for weeks and coupled with group therapy I came back to life, Ashley emerged out that mental state and I was able to take control again. Don't let others' expectations bring you down!

A little background knowledge on what schizophrenia is: it is a thought disorder that confuses and jumbles thoughts and speech for some. It creeps up on an individual usually in early adulthood. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to the following (this list is not intended diagnose anyone, if in doubt seek professional assistance):

- Paranoia
- Sleep disturbances
- Hallucinations
- Delusions
- Isolation
- Speech disturbances
- Short term memory loss
- Disorientation
- Inability to recognize friends and family
- Appetite disturbances
- Suicidal thoughts
- Religious preoccupation
- Poor concentration

I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of twenty. There are different types of schizophrenia such as paranoid, catatonic, residual, and undifferentiated. There is no cure for schizophrenia, yet, but there is treatment. however, everybody does not respond to the same medication is it's basically trial and error when finding the right medication to treat someone with schizophrenia.

I hope that this information was beneficial to you. If you have a mental disorder such as schizophrenia, I want you to know that you can achieve whatever you want.

If you do not have a mental disorder I hope you know more about what schizophrenia is and that people with brain disorders are NOT violent, crazy, and we can and do achieve goals!

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

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).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Never Lose Hope In Dealing With Your Fears And Depression

By: Stanley Popovich

When your fears and depression have the best of you, it is easy to feel that things will not get any better. This is not true. There is much help available in today's society and the best way to deal with your fears is to find effective ways to overcome them. As a result, here are some techniques a person can use to help manage their fears and anxieties.

You never know when the answers you are looking for will come to your doorstep. Even if the thing that you feared does happen, there are circumstances and factors that you can't predict which can be used to your advantage. These factors can change everything. Remember: we may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference.

Challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make you feel fearful or depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense. For example, your afraid that if you do not get that job promotion then you will be stuck at your job forever. This depresses you, however your thinking in this situation is unrealistic. The fact of the matter is that there all are kinds of jobs available and just because you don't get this job promotion doesn't mean that you will never get one. In addition, people change jobs all the time, and you always have that option of going elsewhere if you are unhappy at your present location.

Some people get depressed and have a difficult time getting out of bed in the mornings. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do to get their mind off of the problem. A person could take a walk, listen to some music, read the newspaper or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. Doing something will get your mind off of the problem and give you confidence to do other things.

Be smart in how you deal with your fears and anxieties. Do not try to tackle everything all at once. When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, break the task into a series of smaller steps. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.

Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Managing your fears and anxieties takes practice. The more you practice, the better you will become.

The techniques that I have just covered are some basic ways to manage your fears and depression, however your best bet is to get some help from a professional and not to lose hope. Eventually, you will find the answers you are looking for.


BIOGRAPHY:

Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to: http://www.managingfear.com/