Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Serious Mental Illnesses?

I was discussing mental illness with an associate and the question came up, what makes mental illness serious? In short, serious mental illness includes: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and borderline personality disorder. My associate said, 'all mental illnesses are serious'. What do you think? What about eating disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and others?

According to the Vermont Department of Corrections Agency of Human Services serious mental illness is "substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation or memory, any which grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, diagnoses of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, psychotic conditions not otherwise specified, bipolar disorder, and severe depressive disorders."

The good thing is serious mental illness can and do get treated with success. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), "The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports."

To learn more about serious mental illness visit NAMI, or to learn more about schizophrenia visit Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Medication is Imperative

Taking medication can be a huge challenge for some individuals. I am a strong supporter of getting treatment to help overcome mental health concerns. Before, I recognized I had a mental illness I refused treatment to my own detriment. I got so sick I refused food, showers, speaking, and living. I was like a vegetable. Now, I recognize my illness and understand the importance of medication.

Many people do not accept their diagnosis. How can a person support them as they recover? What can they say to get an individual to try taking their medication regularly?

Even now, after accepting my mental illness and taking medication voluntarily, I struggle with the following concerns:

1) Running out of medication
2) Forgetting to take medication
3) Reapplying for an assistance program
4) Trying to get samples until my order arrives
5) Not having enough money to get medication

And the list could go on. I have learned from these experiences that to get medication I could develop a routine in order NOT to forget. Now I take my medicine before I go to bed.

Order medication in advance, and continuously follow up with the nurse to ensure that the order is processing. Have required documentation for assistance programs available. Have someone that I trust to remind me to take my medicine.

I encourage you to learn more about schizophrenia by visiting the following websites: Embracing My Mind, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and the Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Closer to Recovery Part III

Recovery for me began when I accepted my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia almost two years ago, in 2007. Since then I participated in a few support groups, lived in an independent living establishment for people with mental health concerns, and I continue to take my medication voluntarily on a regular basis. The medication allows me to focus and to do what I want and need to do. It is a blessing to have such advanced knowledge to help people overcome mental illness! I hope someone will find a cure for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses so that I don't have to remember to take my medication. I wouldn't have to be put in a separate category as vulnerable or different from the average person because of my mental illness.

The recovery process has taught me a lot about myself and continues to educate me about mental illness. As I said before, I did not even know what schizophrenia was until it became a part of my life. I am glad I recognize what is going on with me, and what pushed me to change my beliefs and behavior from the past. The thing is I am the old Ashley but now informed, new and improved. I understand what triggered my psychotic breakdown and the warning signs. For example, my triggers were financial stress, moving and adjusting to a new environment.

As a result of my recovery process I want to see other people overcome mental illness too. At first, I started this blog to capture daily emotions and events, however, it grew into something more when other people contributed their experiences. Now, I have blossomed into another stage of recovery and mental health advocacy through my new support group, Embracing My Mind. I want Embracing My Mind to be a resource for people living with mental health concerns and those affected by mental illness. I want to be able to mature on my path to recovery with other people in the support circle.

For resources on schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia, and Embracing My Mind.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July)

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) the US House of Representatives assigned the month of July as: Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in honor of Ms. Campbell and the way she reached out to miniorities with mental illness. Ms. Campbell was an author and advocate for diverse populations with mental health concerns. In fact, NAMI gave her the 2003 Outstanding Media Award for her book, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry. Campbell passed away in November 2006.

Check out a new support group, Embracing My Mind, and also NAMI and Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

How to Cope with Dark Seasons

I aim to empower those affected by mental illness. However, the truth about recovery is there will be many dark seasons. Still, I hope peopl...