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Showing posts from August, 2013

My Version of Hope- A Poem

My fingers were itching to share more about my experience on managing mental illness, to write and to share my thoughts, my therapy. I let my mind wonder and started writing a poem. I don't have a lot of experience writing poems but I ventured off into another form of expression. Below is the poem I wrote: My Version of Hope by Ashley Smith I feel a better me is yet to come,   No more naive decisions that make me feel dumb.  Limitless opportunities are on the way, I believe I know what I want and how not to stray.  I see myself as the individual I long to be- free, confident, and classy,  My experiences cannot stop me, Not schizophrenia and depression nor anxiety. Because ingrained in me is an overcomer of adversity. Now I understand how to strive in my recovery, But I cannot take all the credit when it took a caring party. I give thanks to my treatment team, family and peers, Including those online that opened up about their fears.

Buddhism, My Mental Health & My Happiness by Jennifer L. Myers

Jennifer L. Myers is author of the blog, Never Give Up: Buddhism, Family, & Schizophrenia . Jennifer earned her masters in Urban and Environmental Policy from Tufts University and her undergraduate from UC Santa Cruz. She has experience working with the U.S. Peace corps in the Dominic Republic, environmental non-profits, and teaching. Currently, she is working on her memoir, Never Give Up: Buddhism, Family, & Schizophrenia. The following is her experience... Buddhism, My Mental Health & Happiness by Jennifer L. Myers When I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2002 I had already been practicing Buddhism with the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) for 14 years. Still, I didn't have a very strong practice at the time. I attended local discussion meetings regularly, but I didn't spend much time chanting on a daily basis. It wasn't until the symptoms of schizophrenia - the voices whispering in my head, the screaming and yelling I heard outside my apartm

The Interview: A Life of Recovery and Advocacy

I had the pleasure of learning more about a remarkable individual and advocate for mental illness. This woman is an expert on mental illness, having been in remission from schizophrenia for over 21 years.  She obtained a Masters in Library and Information Science (M.S.) from Pratt Institute and works as a public service librarian. Her name is Christina Bruni.  1.  How were you diagnosed? How long have you been in recovery? I had a breakdown on Friday, September 25, 1987 at 5 pm.  By  9 am that Saturday  morning my mother drove me to the ER.  I was admitted to the hospital and started taking Stelazine.  The blue-eyed psychiatrist on the ward told me: "You don't want to have paranoid schizophrenia.  You have to take medication."  I was lucky I was aware that something was not right.  I've been in recovery 26 years. 2.  Who is your mentor? My mentor is Robin Cunningham.  He was featured on the original In Our Own Voice video circa 2002 when

Anosognosia- Watch this Short Video

I learned about this video on facebook. I think the video did a great job of describing what anosognosia is. The most interesting thing I learned about this issue is that there are different types of medical conditions which have this concern- not just individuals living with schizophrenia. Initially, I did not know I was struggling with mental illness, I thought it was more emotional or spiritual concerns, which I prayed about, journal about, and tried to overcome- the wrong way by not seeking a doctor. Two situations helped me recognize my illness- brutally honest nurses and a combination of medication and education about my diagnosis. Now, that I am aware I try to maintain wellness by taking my medication, keeping doctor appointments, and giving and receiving support from others- I know that may seem easy, but it is not, it was a process for me and still is because I believe recovery is ongoing. What do you think about the info in the video? To learn more about schizophre

Suicide. My Understanding

One of the strongest taboos in our society is suicide- I've heard that ministers do not want to preside over the funerals, and families do not want to discuss it with outsiders... I admit, my faith prevented me from investigating suicide because I thought it was bad. I never attempted suicide however, I felt like my illness could have made me a victim of it. I am not so judgmental about individuals who attempt suicide. Now, I have a different perspective on suicide, here's why: Since my diagnosis of schizophrenia I have encountered people of diverse backgrounds- careers, families, faith, and experiences with mental illness, etc. Having a mental illness was my beginning of not being as naive as before about life experiences, and ignorant of understanding our differences. Like being diagnosed with mental illness, the suicide attempt of my family member came unexpectedly to me. When I found out about it I was overwhelmed with a range of emotions- disbelief, guilt, grief, helple

New Recovery Lives

Having experienced a range of situations, and people related to my illness, I understand how "recovery" can have several interpretations and that each meaning is arguably the ideal definition.  Recovery to me used to mean striving for a part of me that used to be, before my illness stole that life away from me. How does an individual stop comparing their recovery to their old life? I think it is difficult for each individual to let go of their career that once defined who they were- working in the corporate world, being a teacher, and real estate agent, or a student in college, etc. I remember my mother once said, 'this is all new to you, and you have to learn the new Ashley.' I think that was great advice, because it opened my eyes to having an open mind on my recovery. I have a new life in recovery and I choose to nourish it instead of measuring it and comparing it to my life before diagnosis. How have you learned to cope with your life in recovery? To learn m

Coping takes Work

"Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:17 NKJV  I agree with this scripture because everything in life demands some effort to get the desired results. Likewise, taking medication to treat mental illness with no coping skills and others support while expecting the illness to go into remission is not the most effective process- there is no magic pill- mental health recovery takes work.  My schizophrenia seems to be under control and my depression has improved with the medication, but I am still struggling and learning how to better cope with my depression. Lately I've been pushing myself to straighten up the house everyday and to go outside and enjoy the sun, even if it's only 20 minutes. I also listen to music and share stresses with family and friends. I think keeping up my appearance and getting sunlight has been the most useful coping skills I practice under daily basis. I am not where I want to be with my depression right