Recently my story was featured on CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Human Factor. I feel blessed to have an opportunity to share my experience with diverse communities around the world. I believe it is important to share my mental health condition with the public in order to help reduce stigma. Yes, sharing my mental illness has been a process.
I remember when I started this blog in September 2008 I was unsure about its theme and how much I would disclose. Initially, I did not share my true identity, and now I am very comfortable disclosing to the public about my health condition, because I have overcome many medical and social setbacks. I believe this illness can be defeated through treatment, support, faith and hard work.
For individuals and families still struggling with a mental health concern: as you know there will be many obstacles to reach peace with mental health and to live in recovery, however, there is hope. I remember the stories my mother and family shared with me about their worries and concerns for my well-being during my own battle with schizophrenia. In the beginning we did not know I was battling mental health. In fact, I thought it was stress and emotional and spiritual battles. However, my condition worsened over time. Therefore, I encourage families to seek professional guidance when debating whether mental health is a factor.
I am so fortunate to have a family of warriors. My mother and relatives stuck by me during my most vulnerable moments. My mother got involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and gained a better understanding of my condition by meeting with my treatment team at the state hospital (after I gave consent).
In short, I encourage families to learn as much as they can about mental health challenges and to get involved in a support group to get more resources and support.
Lastly, I had a great experience during the process of producing the CNN Human Factor story. I am so thankful to the CNN team and my communications staff for working so diligently on my story. My experience is one of millions in America, and I am hopeful that we can "overcome mental illness together!"
Please review the Human Factor segment on CNN and blog entry, and let me know how the story has impacted you and your family.
For more info about schizophrenia visit Choices in Recovery, Embracing My Mind, Inc., NAMI, and Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).