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Showing posts from December, 2010

Hopeful about finding Work

I am hopeful that I will find part-time work in the mental health field. I would like to have a position that mirrors that of a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS). A CPS works directly with people who have a mental health diagnosis. They assist peers with recovery goals, facilitate groups, and act as a mentor. However, the position requires special training followed by intense testing, and certification. I plan on applying for the CPS training this summer.

Most of the jobs I am interested in requires CPS training and certification. Even though I am limited in that regard I am enthusiastic about finding work and will continue with the job search.

If you would like to learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., NAMI, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Mental Health Recovery To Me

Yesterday, in group we had a discussion about recovery- what does it mean to us, how other organizations define it, and tips to reach recovery. I heard various understandings of what recovery means- change, growth, restore what was taken, etc. In addition to getting everyone;s opinion on the meaning of recovery, we read SAMHSA's 10 Fundamental Components of Recovery.

My definition of recovery is focused on action. First and foremost, recovery to me is accepting my diagnosis of schizophrenia, and taking ownership of my well being by seeking treatment and support, and getting involved in my treatment plan with health care professions. It involves speaking up about needs and asking questions. In other words, advocating for myself.

Recovery is accepting change and learning the new Ashley after receiving a mental health diagnosis- that is being real with self and capabilities by revising my needs and goals. For example, the "new Ashley" is aware of limitations as a result of th…

"GIving Back" with NAMI Georgia

Several NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) Georgia trainings will take place on January 28-30, 2011 at Mercer University (Atlanta campus):
Family-to-FamilyPeer-to-PeerIn Our Own VoiceThe Family-to-Family class is 12 weeks and is facilitated by trained family members of people living with mental health. The class provides current mental health information, teaches the family member care giver how to handle relapses and crisis, and other information to help the care giver.

Opposite that, Peer-to-Peer is for the individual living with mental health. The 10-week course educates peers on relapse prevention, advance directives, and mental health education. The class is facilitated by two trained individuals living with a mental illness.

Finally, In Our Own Voice teaches people living with a mental health concern how to share their experience with mental illness in a 60-90 minute presentation. The presentation is supported by a 15-minute DVD and is led by two presenters.

I have perso…

Religious Preoccupation

After a talk, a woman asked me if my faith contributed to my recovery because she noticed that I mentioned it throughout my speech. In addition to that, she told me that she observed people with faith as having a better outcome in their mental health recovery.

First, I came from a family with Christian values. My faith in God started to get intense during the latter years of high school, which in my opinion, is when I started having symptoms. In my experience religion plays a major role in my mental health- its delusions, its coping skills, and in my recovery. In medical terms they call my religious rituals and delusions "religious preoccupation."

Before I was diagnosed I was highly religious. In fact, I wanted to be an evangelist and to go to a Christian college. I would read my Bible for several hours a day throughout the day, listen to hymns, and meditate. Sometimes I would ignore people if they wanted my attention while I was meditating I was in such deep thought. Also, I …

Mental Health Labels

How should I refer to someone living with a psychiatric diagnosis? There are so many terms that are being used to describe someone with a mental health disorder, these terms include:
"Consumer""Mentally ill""Patient""Client""Crazy""Schizophrenic"
For example, the word "consumer" identifies a person with a mental health concern, and only that group of people. Even though the term does not bother me I could understand how it can frustrate other people. It seems like even the medical field has separated people living with a diagnosis from the bunch.

In my opinion, some of these terms are stigmatizing. Some of the terms seem to single people out and to make having an illness a negative thing. For instance, the words "mentally ill" sounds dreadful to me. To me, it seems like the individual will never get well or that recovery is not an option.

On the other hand, "patient" and "client" seem mor…

Living Independently

Do you think it is best that someone living with schizophrenia, or any mental illness, live independently or with a caregiver? I ask this question because it became a small debate in a support group.

One group participant said her doctor suggest that she live with someone even though she strives to live independently. She wanted to understand how is it that people living with schizophrenia live on their own. The therapist said that sometimes the doctor will suggest that a client live with someone because they are unstable on medication or are suicidal among other reasons.

In my opinion, I believe it depends on the situation. I would not make a generalization for all people living with schizophrenia or mental illness in regards to living independently because we are all on different levels in our recovery. In addition to that, many of us living with schizophrenia have various treatment plans that may or may not include medication. I am all for whatever works best for the individual whe…

My Frustration: There is more to Schizophrenia than the Voices

One of the greatest things that frustrate me about living with this illness is the fact that most people do not understand what it is even though they think they know. Sometimes I feel so misunderstood by not only certain individuals but by society. Because when I say the word "Schizophrenia" they automatically think voices and that the individual is crazy or will do something violent.

As you can imagine, it is very offensive when I hear someone refer to another individual living with a mental illness as crazy because I have a diagnosis and I do not view myself as such, nor do I view other people with mental health as crazy. I wish I can get through to other people that think that way and explain that mental health has many faces. Mental illness can affect all sorts of people, no matter what intellectual background, socioeconomic status, age, gender, race, etc. Schizophrenia is much more complicated than hearing the voices.

For me, schizophrenia made me think irratio…

Disclosure Tips for Sticky Situations

In the previous post I briefly discussed disclosure of my illness in regards to housing, and I want to discuss this in a little more detail because people have a right to privacy about their diagnosis. It is unfortunate that some people are open to discuss their mental health, however, sometimes when they think disclosure could be empowering it does more harm than good, due to the fact that other people simply do not understand mental illness.

Although I am open about my diagnosis and experiences to friends and family, and well just about everyone, I am still selective with who I disclose my illness to. I believe sharing such information should be dealt with delicately whenever someone decides to disclose because stigma is still rampant and at work. By no means am I condoning deception, or for someone to lie about their mental health status, I am simply suggesting that people should be cautious.

Due to my experiences, these are some situations where I feel someone should be hesitant abo…

Addressing Stigma in a Commercial

What do you think about the commercial?

I was wondering and getting upset at the fact that I have not found any commercials about mental health and then I found this one. I think it is a great commercial because it focuses on the things people living with a diagnosis endure- stigma. Stigma is misunderstanding, lack of information, prejudice, and discrimination like in the workforce or in housing. I like this commercial because it paints a realistic picture of what life can be like for some of us living with a diagnosis.

In fact, just the other day in group a friend of mine was bringing up his concern about job hunting. He said that he called a retail store and asked someone if they were hiring, the employee replied, "you cannot work you get disability." Comments like that are so ignorant, and upsetting. First, of all not everyone living with a mental health diagnosis is on disability. Second, even if someone is on disability they can still work if they choose to.

It reminds me …

South Korea's "War on Dementia"

Dementia is memory loss and other interferences to the extent that daily functioning is difficult. It is caused by changes in the brain. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia though there are several types. Dementia is a major concern in South Korea with it affecting the 65 and older population by 7 percent in 2000, to an estimated 14 percent in 2018, and 20 percent 2026.

However, South Korea's government is taking charge of dementia. Already they have created a long-term health insurance system and a dementia database. They developed the long-term insurance system by increasing the national insurance premium by 6.6 percent, to assist in the creation of centers and training to care for people with dementia. In 2009, about $1 billion government and public health insurance money was allocated toward dementia patients. While the dementia database enables relatives to register dementia patients and to receive iron on identification numbers.

The fight against demen…

Ice Cream in December

Today was the last class for NAMI's Peer-to-Peer Recovery Education Course for the year. Again, Peer-to-Peer is a 10-week educational course. We studied relapse prevention, mental health education, and advance directives.

The majority of the class graduated today- Yay! We started out with about 12 participants and 8 graduated. Everyone was very enthusiastic, they really opened when it was time to share. We celebrated by eating ice cream- butter pecan and vanilla.

I would love to facilitate another class and most likely will in Spring 2011. So keep checking back for another class!