Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SSNS 22nd Annual Conference

Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (SSNS) will hold its 22nd Annual Conference in Halifax, Canada on Friday, November 26, 2010 at Pier 21. The theme of the 2010 conference is Mental Illness: Why Me? And SSNS has invited me to speak at the conference! The invitation is an honor, I am very excited about the opportunity to speak.

More information will be posted on the site as planning develops. For sponsorship information contact Stephen Ayer at (902) 465-2601 or send an email to ssns@ns.sympatico.ca.

For more information on schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Intro. to the NAMI Walk

Today I went to a NAMI Georgia luncheon at Peachford Hospital about the NAMI Walk. I am so excited about the Walk which will take place September 18th. In fact, I plan on being a team leader, so wish me luck as continue to share my story and ask for financial support.

When the speaker asked us why we are walking I said several things: to fight stigma, for myself, support groups, and community. Fighting stigma is the ultimate goal, even though I am open about my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia a lot of people are still unaware of what mental illness is or believe common misconceptions about mental illness. The most common misconceptions about schizophrenia is believing that all people who have the illness have split personality or are violent, which is NOT true. I want to continue to help overcome stigma by doing this NAMI Walk.

I have never done a NAMI Walk, but I am ready for the challenge so bring it on! I will give you more info. as the Walk approaches, until then get involved, listen, support, give, share your story, and fight stigma to change minds and hearts!

To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., NAMI, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Speaking Up

After reading a few books by the same author I was offended by the way mental health concerns were mentioned in a couple of their books so I emailed the author about my concerns. I am still a fan of the author I just wanted to voice my concerns to let them know it was offensive and hopefully they will be more sensitive about mental health. Below is the edited version of the letter I wrote, omiting the author's name and book titles...

Hello Ms. [Blank]:

I became an immediate fan of yours since I read [blank]. While I am a fan, I do have some concerns about the stigma you may be contributing to as it relates to mental health. For example, in [blank], you mentioned an ex-boyfriend who has schizophrenia and how he may desire to commit violence by burning down someone's house with them in it. I too have schizophrenia. I am not violent and I am an upstanding citizen through volunteer work.

In another work of yours, [blank], the main character wondered why her father could have had a mental illness. Why can't the individual doing the wrong deed just be a bad person, why do they have to have a mental illness?

In short, I love your work but some things are offensive as it relates to mental health and I hope in future writings you will be more sensitive.

Thank you for your consideration and keep writing!

Ashley Smith
Fan and concerned mental health advocate

[Response from the author]

Hi Ashley,

Thank you so much for reading my work and for taking time to email me. In terms of my reference to schizophrenia with the character, Aaron, he is not representative of all people who have this illness and I apologize if you felt that way while reading about him. My work is fiction, so there may be times when I will create characters based on what I amy have heard or seen but my characters never represent an entire group of people. For example, when I write about [the main character's name], I am not saying that all pastors are consumed with money, power...Actually, when it comes to someone burning a house, the person doing it could have a mental illness or they may not have a mental illness, so again, this was just the illness I chose because of examples I know of.

In [blank, title of the book], the reason I chose to write that her stepfather must have had a mental illness was because there have been many times when pedophiles have admitted that they simply cannot help themselves and even hate themselves for doing what they have done to a child. I've heard some say (not all) say themselves that they were sick. This isn't always the case, but this is what I chose to write in my particular novel, and it is also what I believe was the case with the man who molested me when I was a child. There are also times in my stories when people tend to do bad things simpoly because they are just bad people the way you mentioned, and this is the reason I don't always use mental illness as a reason for their terrible actions.

The unfortunate thing about writing fiction is that no matter what a novelist writes, there will always be at least a few readers who feel offended or like the writer is not being sensitive to his or her particular situation. Especially, if a writer focuses on taboo or controversial subjects the way I always do.

I hope my explanation is helpful and thanks again for all your support, Ashley.

Take care and God bless,

[Author's name]

After sending the email I wish I would have listed some sources to get educated about mental health. And after the explanation, well, what do you think?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., NAMI, or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Monday, July 19, 2010

NAMI Connections Training Wrap Up

After the NAMI Connections facilitator training I feel empowered! We covered some touchy topics such as how to handle someone that is suicidal and other effective facilitator techniques. I especially liked the problem-solving strategies we learned to help someone in the support group who has a concern.

I have been to a few facilitator trainings, however, NAMI Connections was the most effective to me. Again, I got to meet people with similar desires to give back and to support others.

In short, NAMI Connections is a support group for 10 to 15 people living with a mental health diagnosis. The meeting lasts about 90 minutes. There you can get plenty of resources, support from other consumers, and express yourself and know that you are not alone.

Overall, the experience was great and I would strongly encourage other people who want to further advocate and contribute to the mental health community to get involved with NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness). Go NAMI!

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

Saturday, July 17, 2010

NAMI Connections Training

I am still going through the NAMI GA Connections training and it is going very well. The hotel stay and food is great. I am meeting a lot of nice people and learning how to be an even better facilitator. I love NAMI! And I strongly encourage people living with a psychiatric diagnosis as well as family and friends to get involved.

To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., NAMI, or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Unique Memories

After I shared my story with an interested party who is working on a project I thought of the many symptoms and situations I left out of my testimony...

I didn't tell him about the milk cartons, or the mind reading, and the images that made me do a quick u-turn. Now, I am in recovery mode I feel comfortable sharing the many experiences I recall during my episode with paranoid schizophrenia.

For example, I remember not believing what anyone told me concerning the date or other things. I felt like I had an intimate relationship with God to the extent that he sent me private messages, and that I can even have a greater understanding of Him. Instead of believing what people said the date was, I looked at milk cartons to get the real date, this was a message sent from God, I thought.

I remember going to church, like I usually did, however, communicating with the pastor's wife through my mind. I looked at her, and knew she understood me. Strangely, I even thought she may think I would want to take her husband from her, but I told her in mind that I did not. It was all very bizarre.

The day the carpet was lifted right from beneath me I recall watching the Trinity network and watching the end of the program to get the tape information only to see the words: "How to commit suicide" on the screen. I felt very uncomfortable and turned off the television immediately. Then later, I received messages from the devil through the radio in a song about girls. I just knew the devil was playing game with me, again. But my faith was strong and kept on keeping on, like I am now...

As life comes with many obstacles and ups and downs in relationships, I am at peace. I know that the Lord has my back and that it will all work out in the end. Thank you for reading about these strange memories. I hopoe if you have a mental illness or know someone who does you will seek education and support. Thank you again!

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

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Everything is Well

I am well. Staying busy. The Peer-to-Peer group is coming to an end. We have a great group, attendance is high and everyone is enthusiatic about the group.

If you live in Georgia, you may want to take advantage of a NAMI Georgia Connections training July 16-18, 2010 at Mercer University. Please visit the NAMI Georgia website for details at www.namiga.org.

I hope everyone enjoyed the fourth of July!

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...