Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Year, New Goals by Princess B.

Hello everyone. It's a new year and a new start for you and for me. For me, it's developing personally this year. Like many of you out there this new year will bring about new goals for ourselves. I have vowed to let this year be a year of completion and follow through to many of my goals. One where I complete projects I've started as far back as a year or two ago. It also means staying connected to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and the mental health community and being financially savvy. What are some of your goals--the ones you don't mind sharing or that are of pressing concern to you?
Be Blessed,
Princess B.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Acceptance with Mental Illness

Acceptance to me is when a person recognizes they have a mental illness and then takes ownership of their recovery by meeting the needs of their mental health concern (i.e., medication, therapy, and/or other forms of treatment). Acceptance for me did not come easy. Now I will share with you how I started receiving treatment, why I initially refused it, and who helped me accept my diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia.

Initially, I was forced into treatment, mandated by a judge to medication compliance. Therefore, whenever I refused to take my medication a group of staff would barge into my room, pin me down to the bed while the nurse administered a shot. We followed this routine for a few days till I gave in and took the pills they gave me.

In the beginning, I did not take the medication for several reasons: 1) I did not believe I needed them, nobody told me I had schizophrenia they just started giving me medicine one day, 2) I had a history of enduring allergies and other less severe illnesses without medication, and 3) I did not want to make the medication "weaken" my spiritual gifts. In other words, I lacked insight into what was actually happening to me- I was falling a part- I had had a nervous breakdown or psychotic break. I did not see myself failing to take care of personal hygiene, not engaging in activities and conversation with others (isolation and poverty of speech), or notice the fact that I would stay in one position for long periods of time (catatonic).

Growing up, I let colds and allergies fade away on its own. I did not want to be dependent on medication unless it was very serious like the flu. Lastly, when I noticed a change in my ability to read people's minds or to read into their spirit whether they were good or evil, I felt like the medication was interfering with my God-given talents. When in truth, the medication was bringing me back to reality!

After finally giving in and taking the medicine, another problem occurred... The SIDE EFFECTS. I would sleep all day everyday. I missed out on group therapy and free time with peers. On top of that I was extremely hungry to the state of not being able to focus, can you imagine?!

Moreover, a downside to another medication was lack of sleep. I could not sleep because I felt compelled to move about, this was restless legs. After experiencing restless legs I did not want to take my medication. (This is one of many reasons why some other people with a mental illness may not want to take their medication). I complained to staff about my new condition (restless legs) but with no avail until I caught the attention of another doctor. In the meantime, nurses bribed me into taking my medicine with candy and juice, which was a treat in jail.

Finally, a medication that controlled the symptoms with a more tolerable outcome... Stiffness. I did not feel stiff, however, medical staff would ask me how I felt and would move my limbs to test for any discomfort, because, well, I walked like a "robot!" This is what my peers called me.

Then the "talk." My doctor told me my official diagnosis- Paranoid Schizophrenia... but wait! I was NOT devastated, because I was blessed with a great doctor, let me tell you why he was great... He had a passion for helping patients. He explained what the symptoms of schizophrenia was and applied them to my specific situation. He said my illness was to explain all the symptoms I was experiencing- the voices, delusions, etc., which made me feel a little relieved, but wait this is not the only reason why he was a great psychologist.

I had a great doctor because he believed in me and in my recovery. He had hope for me! He told me that I can return to college as long as I managed my stress and take my medication regularly. He said I can lead a normal life as long as I did these things. His faith in my recovery gave me HOPE that I can do it! And now I am...

Currently, I am attending college part-time. I also volunteer and do a lot of community service in the mental health field. I live independently, cook for myself, take my medication regularly, manage my bills, etc. with the support of family, peers, and treatment team.

If you, or a loved one, is living with a mental illness there is hope. For me it began with Acceptance- meeting the demands of my mental illness in order to get well and to stay well. I take my medication as prescribed, participate in several support groups a week, and stay connected to my support circle- family, peers, and health care professionals.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tonight's Support Group Meeting

I just got back from a NAMI support group. It was a very good meeting we covered a lot information related to coping with mental health, our attitude toward stigma, and various bizarre experiences. Afterward, I felt energized, uplifted, and empowered like the way church makes me feel, it was very good. I really enjoyed the company of my friends who are also in recovery from different mental illnesses. I look forward to next week's meeting!

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

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Hospital Stay (Continued)

While I was at a California State Hospital I stayed in a coed unit of about 50 people. There were about three to four people to a room. The women were roomed on one side of hall while the men on the other. The hospital divided groups of people based on long-term stay and shorter term stays- I was among the short-term units.

I remember the intake process, which was lengthy. I endured several comprehension, medical, and personal tests. The staff wanted to know everything- my childhood experiences, schooling, knowledge of my mental illness, the reason I was there - EVERYTHING!

In the hospital, we were provided three meals a day with flexible diets if stated - vegetarian, no pork, low sodium, etc. We earned points by good behavior- going to classes, cleaning our room, dressing in an appropriate manner, and doing whatever we were supposed to. The points went toward a store where we could purchase candy, accessories, and other items.

Whenever someone got into trouble they would lose their freedom to accept visits, go outside, socialize with others by staying in a private room, use their points for the store, or participate in additional activities or meetings. Sometimes if someone where out of control they would be trapped to a bed, or transferred to another unit.

In addition to mandatory classes and conferences with the treatment team, some of the activities included: Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, church, visits to the library, talent shows, or cookouts. The class load was diverse- exercise, learning about mental health, learning about the court system, art classes, etc. The classes were taught by health care professionals - psychologists, social workers, counselors, etc. The conferences were meetings with our treatment team to decipher if we were ready to be discharged from the hospital and return to jail to complete court hearings.

I remember when I was in the hospital my anxiety level was high. I did not like being around large groups, sometimes I preferred to stay in my room. I remember being bored a lot, to pass the time I would read, write, or exercise.

I stayed active and out of trouble. I participated in just about all the activities- even the talent show! A peer, a nurse, and myself danced to a hip hop song, it was fun. At the end everyone got a prize, we were provided a large box with various items in it- candy, smell goods, etc. to choose from.

My peers were well mannered for the most part, nobody wanted their freedoms taken from them, however, there were some that caused problems, which occasionally ruined it for all of us.

Overall, my experience was not bad. I went to the state hospital to get better and to learn more about my mental illness, which I did. It was at the California State Hospital where I received an official mental health diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. I remember my doctor discussing some of the symptoms with me and telling me that I can still go back to college and lead a fulfilling life. This gave me hope...

What are your thoughts on this?

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

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Hospital Stay

In my experience, I stayed in the hospital for 2-3 months to get an official mental health diagnosis, and also to regain competency for trial. I was in jail and in a state hospital for taking a military truck from the airport. Taking the truck was related to my nervous breakdown or psychotic break.

My hospital stay was productive. I reunited with my mother and family, and participated in group therapy. I was sent to a California State Hospital because my (unknown) mental illness had gotten so severe that I became catatonic- not moving my body limbs for periods at a time. I was extremely paranoid that staff would try to poison me and thus, I stopped eating and drinking. As a result, I was sent to the emergency room several times. Also, I failed a competency test for trial, in short, I was so sick that the court hearings could not proceed and the judge mandated medication compliance and a visit to the state hospital.

My illness had taken over the loving, ambitious, go-getter, Ashley. I became angry at my mother and family for no concrete reason, the illness made everyone the enemy including my very own loving and supportive family. However, my family did not give up HOPE. And when the medicine kicked in, my mother and family were there to accept me.

In the hospital, I was required to participate in diverse group therapy. Some of the classes I took included: yoga, cardio, coping with mental illness, medication education, informational court, and an art class, (I did not take all these classes in the same period, we rotated classes like mini semesters).Whenever, I was not in class I was visiting with family.

The following is a selected parts of my diary while I was staying in a California State Hospital:

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Now I am at the State Hospital and not at the psychiatric unit in jail. I am a little nervous because of my new, large surroundings. The people are friendly, but a little intimidating because the group is larger than the group I came from which was about 16 people...

Friday, August 17, 2007
Day #2 at the State Hospital. Everybody is friendly. I switched bedrooms because a couple of my peers got into a fight. Today I also gave blood and met with my social worker, nurse, program coordinator, and doctor. I took what seems like the same interview twice today and I completed a test that focused on my reading skills. For the most part the staff seems laid back, which is a good thing. All of my peers are friendly because they are very considerate... I am still adjusting to the large group, I think I will do well here. I know that He is with me always and will hold my hand through this experience.

Friday, August 31, 2007
Yesterday, my mother and me did not visit, however, we visited today and she plans on coming back this afternoon. We discussed Supplemental Security Income (SSI), my recovery, arrest, and my newborn niece, and family. My mother says she became a member of a mental illness awareness group. I thought that was courageous and proactive. She also encourages me to apply for SSI...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Today was my first day participating in regular classes, I took Medication Education. My social worker and psychologist taught the class, they both shared videos, and both videos were interesting. I also spoke to my aunt, I called her at work. She told me some of the details of my case... she will make a specific prayer for me that the judge will release me without felony charges. We had a good conversation. Some of the reasons that I was upset with her is most likely a part of my paranoia, we said we would discuss it in person during our visit this Sunday.

I just spoke with my mother and she is on her way. My step-father is with her... Our visit went well. My mother is moving close to the hospital in order to visit me daily. She says that she will visit me Friday and move to the area this weekend. Seeing my mother daily will make my stay here much easier. We could talk about my classes, because she wants to learn what I am learning.

Granddad will visit me tomorrow. I am excited to see him, he goes out of his way a lot too. I am blessed to have a family that cares so much.

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Today I went to Conflict Management and then I had a visit with my mother. First, in class we talked about our support system and how some people avoid their problems. We also discussed the difference between sanity and insanity. Insanity is not dealing with any problems, while sanity is. Our support system may include our peers, family, education network, and self. We had the opportunity to record our support system in different colors on circles. I used blue and purple. Second, my mother visited me earlier. She was like herself. Today she sang Christian hymns and we prayed together...

As you can tell by reading bits and pieces of my diary from the hospital stay, the hospital can be a very scary place, but it could also be a place to recuperate. My family was very supportive and hopeful that I will get better. They played an active role in my recovery from the beginning, we experienced the hospital stay together.

From the selected journal entries, a person can imagine how faith played a role in my life during this critical moment. My family and me were praying for a tolerable solution to the incident, and through faith, support- I received character references from family, church members, and others to give to the judge- and an official diagnosis, I was not convicted with a felony.

My mother became a member of a mental health support group. Both of my parents suggested that I apply for SSI. And, my hospital stay is where I gained the foundation to my recovery by learning more about my illness.

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

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Thought Broadcasting" A Poem by Claudia Krizay

stars in the universe

Silence is a silver ship

Traveling at the speed of the darkness,

Black holes are the edifices in which I

Build my thoughts-

Word by word,

Each and every syllable forms upon my lips,

And then broadcasted, aloud-

Thoughts are killers- thoughts can harm-

My thoughts can be heard from afar.

Within this room I write my thoughts

With a pen that is void of ink, or a pencil

That has no lead,

Invisible they are, but somehow,

These thoughts are broadcasted aloud.

Thoughts are killers thoughts control-

My thoughts can be heard from afar.

A silver ship with its sail to the wind,

A wild horse that canters across vast terrain, or

Pebbles that roll off of my fingertips,

That splash into the creek, one by one,

You can see, you can hear, as

My thoughts, broadcasted aloud.

My thoughts can be heard from afar.

My thoughts are a flame that only I can quench.

I am in control of what comes into my mind,

As my hands build the world from

The bricks of Time,

My thoughts control the world.

My thinking destroys those, whom I abhor,

My thoughts control the downtrodden.

Silence is a silver ship, or

The dome beneath which I dwell-

I build my edifice beneath this dome.

No one dares to enter, as

I have broadcasted a message to the world,

My eyes order the world away;

My thoughts are broadcasted aloud,

A bad thought can destroy, as good ones

Create and control,

My thoughts control the world…

Claudia Krizay

Claudia Krizay

Claudia Krizay lives with schizophrenia. Claudia is a part of the SchizophreniaConnection community. She has published three books which include (on
  • "Take Five Seroquel and Call Me in the Morning"
  • "Far Out!"
  • "Time Lapse"

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcoming the New Year with Pride in my Recovery

In group on Thursday, we wrote down three things we are proud of for the year 2010, and also wrote the things we would like to be proud of for 2011. My accomplishments for 2010 included:

  • Going back to college,
  • Getting my own apartment, and
  • Maintaining a personal relationship.

I am proud of these things accomplishments because I've showed myself that I can lead an independent life in recovery from schizophrenia. Recovery to me is doing the things I used to do and also doing the things I need to do to move forward. Moreover, I accomplished these things despite my illness and even though certain people were skeptical about my goals, I did it and I am very proud of myself!

I have many goals I would like fulfill this year. I would like to become a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) among other things. A CPS is a trained mental health associate who is also in mental health recovery, and who helps peers on their path to recovery. They facilitate groups, provide resources, and act as a mentor. I am already doing work as a CPS, but I have not participated in the official training yet. I plan on doing the training this summer, that way I will be eligible for a lot of jobs in the mental health field.

Finally, if you are a person living with a mental health diagnosis and I encourage you to take ownership of your recovery if you have not already done so, and to strive to accomplish your goals despite other people's doubts; and despite living with an illness such as schizophrenia.

To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Schizophrenia Society of Nova 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...