Friday, January 31, 2014

Finding Balance

Coping with stress is easier said than done. I think stress puts pressure on my illness, which increases chances of my symptoms to flare up. Because I think stress is a trigger for me I try to catch myself whenever I feel it beginning to get out of hand. My early warning signs include: feeling depressed, drained, and whenever I neglect responding to emails in a speedy manner, isolate from those closest to me, do not uphold a clean house, and feel a lot of anxiety.

A little while ago I felt like I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel uncomfortably stressed to the extent where I feel I need to have my dose of medication increased to help me cope. Before I attempted to alter my medication with my doctor I experimented with different coping skills that helped me before. I tried to relax and enjoy my moment whenever I could by taking a bath, sitting in silence, and reflecting on the good things that happened to me. I received a spa pedicure and went shopping too. Furthermore, I wrote in my journal, listened to music, and shared my concerns with family and friends, which tremendously helped me regroup.

Now that my stress is more manageable I don't have to make an early visit to my doctor. However, I still feel some stress, mostly good stress, because of the demands I put on myself. Currently, I feel more balanced and that my tension is under control. I knew I was getting better because I took the time to clean my house and to communicate more often with those individuals in my support network.

What are some of your warning signs that you need to take a step back and to regroup. How do you find balance?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Don't Overlook My Peers

Philippians 2:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV) 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

My heart goes out peers suffering with mental illness, and to their supporters who are affected. Many of my peers suffer in silence, because of stigma or negative perceptions. Before I accepted treatment me and my family were a mess. I could not function to the extent that I did not know who the president was at the time. The voices interrupted my conversations and made it difficult for me to stay engaged. Years later I can still recall those uncomfortable, anxious, frightening moments when my mind was in limbo.

My advice to peers who've found a treatment plan that works for them is to share their experience with others. The lived experience is valuable. Sharing my experiences with schizophrenia is therapeutic, and can be for others too. I started sharing my experiences by blogging anonymously. And gradually over time, and with a better understanding of my illness and others I disclosed my identity.

I would not describe my experiences as easy or quick, but it was worth the process to get to where I am today in my recovery and life. Peers living with mental illness, I encourage you to choose treatment, whatever that looks like to you and practice it wholeheartedly. And to those who are managing, don't overlook our peers who are struggling, but help them by sharing your coping skills and motivation.

To my peers' supporters, don't neglect your own mental health and self-care responsibilities. I suggest you join a support group or online chat network for family members, caregivers, and supporters. This connection will help you find answers on how to cope and overcome situations.

Stay encouraged. Strive for mental wellness, it is your livelihood. And never, ever, give up hope.

-Ashley Smith

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ashley's First Blog Book...

Greetings everyone, and Happy New Year! I've missed blogging and corresponding with you regularly, because I've been busy writing my first blog book, What's On My Mind?: A Collection of Blog Entries from "Overcoming Schizophrenia." This book is a quick read about my experiences with schizophrenia and can be purchased online at Amazon, coming soon...

This collection of blog entries was inspired by you! I shared my story with you in mind; people living with a mental illness, family members, students, clinicians, law enforcement, mental health advocates, educators, or anyone interested in the field of mental health. My hope is people will read my story and be encouraged to seek treatment, have a positive perception about people living with mental illness, and to keep hope alive.

If you enjoy reading my blog, "Overcoming Schizophrenia," you are in for a treat with What's On My Mind? This is a must read...

  • Short informative read and easy to follow, reasonably priced
  • Provides the human experience aspect of living with a mental illness
  • Encourages people to seek professional help
  • Shares a hopeful outlook on recovery living with mental illness
  • Gives another perspective on mental illness which benefits others
  • Assisting those on their recovery journey for themselves or a loved ones

I am so excited about this project and hope you will support me. This book is my first book, and certainly not my last!

Warm regards,

Ashley Smith

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...