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Showing posts from 2019

by A Guest Blogger: For Addicts, Recovery Means Creating a New Life

If you’re struggling to maintain your sobriety, you aren’t alone. There are millions of fighters just like you working toward reclaiming their lives from drugs and alcohol. There are a few common traits that many successful recovering addicts share. Keep reading to find out what they are and how you can follow in their footsteps. They establish new patterns You can’t continue to live your life the same was you did when you were using. You must change and adapt to your newfound sobriety. Consider a career change; many recovering addicts find they have more success by starting their own business. One career that is easy to enter is dog walking. As a dog walker , you’ll reap many rewards including getting to spend time with dogs, which can actually boost your recovery efforts and stave off depression. Dogs have been used as part of a treatment plan for users as young as 11 and come with the added benefit of helping you stay physically active. Plus, being with

Waking Up Tired

What do you do when you wake up tired? Lately, I have been struggling with depression. My depression is not the result of the changes in season, mood swings, PMS, nor breakdown in relationships, or loss. My invisible brain disorder is going through another one of its phases. Sometimes I wake up tired. In spite of medication adherence, I am challenged by my depressive state of being. I practice self-care daily, but lose energy by the late afternoon and am forced to shut myself down early at night. It is not fair; living with limited energy, taking restless naps, and repeating my health plan that is not completely pulling me out of this depressive state. My days are short but my fight is still strong. Yes, I may wake up tired, and do not carry out plans, but I get back on track and try my best to not give up. Still, I press forward. I surf social media for encouragement. I drink more water and give myself time to embrace self-care demands. Moreover, I pray that this low ene

10-12-2019 Press Release for Coping Takes Work

For Immediate Release  Contact: EMM Enterprise, LLC Email: Website: New Book Redefines Recovery with Practical Coping Tools Atlanta, Georgia—October 12, 2019—Ashley Smith, author of the blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia, self-published What’s On My Mind? Coping Takes Work, Volume II during Mental Illness Awareness Week. The blog’s key messages bring attention to schizophrenia and how recovery is possible. A popular review identified Ashley’s blog among the “Top 20 Schizophrenia Blogs and Websites to Follow in 2019.” “ Coping Takes Work is a collection of inspiring articles from my blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia. My story focuses on how I master resiliency through different coping strategies,” said Ashley Smith. Ashley Smith is a mental health advocate who has been in recovery for over 12 years. She endured a court-ordered hospitalization among a range of challenges. The advocate’s story was highlighted in Janssen Pha

My Interview on The Authors Lounge Radio Show

On Tuesday, October 8th I was a guest on The Authors Lounge Radio Show. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the host, Sheryl Grace. Sheryl has experience in the mental health field and was excited about Mental Illness Awareness Week, especially today; World Mental Health Day. We talked about this blog and my book, Coping Takes Work. In fact, Sheryl encouraged me to read an excerpt, which I did, from Appendix G, "When I Woke Up." I chose to read "When I Woke Up," because the focus is on my bond between me and my son. My son was my motivation to get well when I was at my worst, as articulated in the book. Now, my new mental health book, Coping Takes Work is available on Amazon. Through this book I aim to encourage my peers in recovery to engage in therapy in order to master resiliency and wellness. My hope is for readers to purchase my book and to share it with others. This is Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 6-12, 2019. Therefore, buy your copy of

Coping Takes Work is Available on Amazon

My book, What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work, Volume II is available in Kindle e-book and paperback on Amazon today .  I am grateful for the contributors of this work: Brian Anderson (author of Beautiful Scars, Volume I and II), Terresa Ford, CPRP, CPS, Pat Strode, Caregiver, Shannon Murphy, LPC, CPCS, and Stacey Walker, Sr. (author of Principles of Biblical Leadership ).  Also, I appreciate my editor Sarah Mayor.  I am thankful for the book reviews: Christina Bruni (author of Left of the Dial ), Corey Jones (author of Hope Is Real ), Terri Morgan (author of The Genetic Lottery ), Jean Toole (President and CEO of Community Friendship), and Bethany Yeiser (author of Mind Estranged, and President of CURESZ Foundation). Huge shout out to my Overcoming Schizophrenia blog readers!  Also, to Jacqlyn Charles from The Women Are Worthy Show and Sheryl Grace from The Authors Lounge Radio Show for supporting mental health awareness for September's Recovery Month

At A Glance: Book Review on Coping Takes Work by Terri Morgan

“Ashley Smith is proof that it is possible to thrive despite living with a devastating brain disorder. Smith shares her experiences, including the ups and downs of her health through the years, in her new book, What's On My Mind: Coping Takes Work. This slim, well written volume provides a blueprint for living well with schizophrenia. Loaded with information, resources, and practical advice for coping with a severe and persistent mental disorder, Smith has created an essential guide for anyone who is living with schizophrenia, or loves someone who is. The book includes a collection of entries from Smith's award winning blog that have been chosen and rewritten especially for this volume. The result is a user friendly guide crafted by a woman who has dedicated her life to helping others recover from their own health challenges. Smith writes clearly and honestly about her own mental health experiences, providing readers with an insiders' understanding about her journey.

At A Glance: Book Review on Coping Takes Work

I will release my new book, What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work, Volume II this month. Here are what mental health advocates and authors are saying about the book: “A recovery story of grit and grace that will empower you to manage challenges effectively.” —Christina Bruni, Author of Left of the Dial: A Memoir of Schizophrenia, Recovery and Hope  Christina Bruni is an author, blogger, and activist. “Ashley Smith’s book, Coping Takes Work, is a rich guide to staying well, despite living with the stigmatized mental health challenge of schizoaffective disorder. It offers practical recovery tips and a story of hope that will enrich the lives of those living with mental health challenges, their supporters, including mental health professionals.” —Corey Jones, Author of Hope Is Real: I Have a Purpose  Corey Jones is an author, blogger, and certified peer specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. “An essential guide for anyone who is living with schizophrenia, Coping

Radio Interview on the Authors Lounge with Sheryl Grace

Authors Lounge Radio Show with Sheryl Grace This is Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 6-12, 2019 and I will be on the Authors Lounge Radio Show to discuss my new mental health book, What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work, Volume II.  My interview with Sheryl Grace will be live on the Fishbowl Radio Network, Tuesday, October 8, 2019 4PM Central Time or 5PM Eastern Time. To listen go online to and stroll down to click on "Grey Stream."

10-05-2019 Press Release for Coping Takes Work

For Immediate Release  Contact: EMM Enterprise, LLC  Email:   Website:  Blogger Inspires People with Mental Illness by Promoting Coping Tools: New Book Details How to Live Well in Recovery Atlanta, Georgia—October 5, 2019—Ashley Smith, author of the blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia, publishes her second book, What’s On My Mind? Coping Takes Work, Volume II that is forthcoming in October 2019. This book is a collection of blog articles that focuses on recovery.  Through the Overcoming Schizophrenia blog, Ashley candidly shares her journey with schizophrenia as an advocate and peer in recovery. Her blog focuses on a wide range of topics such as the benefits of therapy and practical coping techniques to maintain wellness.  Countless doctors recommend medication to support mental health recovery. However, few people discuss ways to live well in recovery. Ashley has been in recovery for over 12 years and endured sel

My Interview on The Women Are Worthy Show

I appreciate Jacqlyn Charles, host of The Women Are Worthy Show, for bringing attention to mental health challenges, such as mine. On September 16th, Jacqyln and I held a conversation about mental illness and its stigma.  Jacqyln referred to the "Acceptance" chapter of my book, What's On My Mind? Volume I. The opening statement was a question: "Is accepting mental illness the beginning of recovery?" Initially, my recovery was court-mandated. In other words, I had no choice, but to accept forced treatment due to the legal circumstances as articulated in my book. However, I gained acceptance quickly by the support of my treatment team and family. I recalled my mother's approach to my condition which was something I could learn how to manage because of my awareness of the diagnosis. My mother said: "At least you know what you have so that you can do something about it. Some people do not know what is going on with them." The stigma of men

Watch Women Are Worthy Show on Facebook Live with Ashley

My Anti-Stigma Message: There is Hope

(Champions of Science: The Art of Ending Stigma) When I was diagnosed there were not a lot of recovery stories on schizophrenia. The only story I could identify with was the movie, Out of the Darkness that features Diana Ross. Over the years, I have been called demonic on a few occasions due to my diagnosis. This is scary to me because I do not see myself as a threat or evil spirit. I identified more with college students, I dropped out of school as a result of my illness. I was diagnosed at age 20. Now I am a mental health advocate that aims to debunk myths and continue to strive to live well in recovery in spite of widespread stigma. I am appreciative of Janssen Pharmaceuticals educational non-branded platform that aims to reduce stigma. In 2011, they spearheaded a documentary that shows how recovery is possible for persons living with schizophrenia. This was my first time seeing recovery in a positive light opposed to simply limiting us to the largely characterized sy

11 Years of Overcoming Schizophrenia Blog Anniversary

Eleven years ago I started blogging anonymously about my experience with schizophrenia. I was 21 years old and still learning about my diagnosis, which I continue to study today. I am grateful for the feedback of my peers in recovery, caregivers, and our loved ones who engaged in this blog. Over the years my recovery story gained a lot of opportunities and exposure. I became a mental health advocate, speaker, and trainer. I sought different platforms to share my lived experience. There were several.  In 2010, I shared my recovery story as a speaker for In Our Own Voice. This program was new to NAMI Georgia, I was among the first class. I thank my instructor, Cathy M. for teaching me how to share my story. This program gave me a glimpse of what was to come.  My first speaking engagement was on my birthday. I spoke for NAMI Georgia and the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for law enforcement. My presentation focused on my history with mental health, and legal inte

Catch It. Check It. Change It.

Nobody enjoys the feeling of being on edge, and anxious... Anxious for the reply about the business deal. Anxious for the update on your loved one’s health. Anxious for confirmation of the loan approval, etc. We have all been there. Recently, I felt anxious. However, my anxiousness could easily manifest into mania, a condition that perpetuates excessive energy. It was subtle at first. I brainstormed a few plans, and focused on different approaches to execute the agenda. I began to minimize my sleep to work on the plan. This load of ideas transitioned into over-thinking and indecisiveness. My anxiety built momentum to the extent that I had to check myself. I started to redirect my focus to develop patience. I did not want to experience mania at its worst, and produce negative outcomes. I began to be mindful of my sleeping pattern and diet. I was making a conscious effort to maintain better self-care. I reached out to a couple of people without reply. In response to the over-ex

Parenting With Mental Illness and Crisis

Living in recovery is challenging, however, it is a part of life for many individuals. Mental illness is more common than not. People with mental health conditions also parent. Despite mental health crisis peers can still manage recovery, and family. I am a lived experience expert on schizophrenia. I persevered through a range of issues related to my diagnosis. I have been in recovery for a few years, and experienced a lot, such as the severe schizophrenia-related symptoms, court-ordered hospitalization, housing discrimination, and projected stereotypes. Still, I work on myself, job, and parenting skills. I am a mother of one. My child is seven years old. Mental illness is a problematic medical condition, but it can be managed with adequate support, treatment, and coping skills. I engage in therapy and traditional treatment, or medication, to help maintain wellness. I practice a lot of coping skills to manage daily. For example, I walk every day, journal, and listen to mus

Help without Hope

Doctors have the gift of healing. They can perform miracles and restore wellness when they believe in their work. If an individual needed surgery and had access to a surgeon this would be a great act of God. The surgery would treat the individual and restore good health. However, when the surgeon does not believe in the fruit of their works this poses a threat to recovery. Therefore, why would a surgeon perform the task, skill, and responsibility of medicine if they do not believe in their work? I heard families and peers recall poor experiences with doctors and other healthcare professionals. These poor experiences are common. They may state that my peer can never work again, can never live independently, and cannot do what they used to do. A lot of healthcare professionals do not offer hope for recovery. Instead some healthcare professionals reinforce stigma, and doubt with lack of expectations for life after diagnosis. Some do not say anything at all, and leave us without awa

Pro-Choice for Stability

Catatonic. Delusional. Psychotic. These are a few symptoms of schizophrenia, which I suffered, lived in, and endured through medication.  Catatonic was a place of immobility, distance, and lack of awareness. I experienced catatonia during my first breakdown at age 20. My breakdown led to my incarceration and hospitalization. My catatonic state of mind left me frozen, vulnerable, and lost. While I was catatonic time did not exist. I did not hold concerns related to hygiene, socialization, nor consequence. A jail nurse, Erwin, expressed my condition, in order, to persuade me into taking medication. Erwin said, “We had to drag you in your chair from the day room back to your cell, because you would not move... We rushed you to the emergency room three times to stick an IV in you, because you stopped eating and drinking... Please stop ignoring me... Would you take your medicine?” I did not move for hours, and maybe even for days. Doctors and nurses visited regularly. I do

Break through the Illness Web: Redefine Recovery

Ashley Smith, NAMI Georgia Member, Panelist at Emory University, "Living With A Mental Health Condition Panel" - April 8, 2019 Living with mental illness is not an option, however, recovery is. What is recovery?! In the beginning, I did not understand my diagnosis, nor how recovery looks. In fact, I borrowed a vision of recovery from others. My enthusiastic state hospital doctor in California told me I could return to school, which I did. My mother told me she could see me sharing with others how I made it through with schizophrenia, and I started blogging anonymously, in 2008.  Moreover, another pivotal influence, which shapes my optimism and outlook on living with schizophrenia was seeing another individual with my diagnosis facilitate a WRAP course. Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan, or WRAP, guides peers in recovery on how to manage, plan, and overcome crisis, and relapse. Participating in this person’s class inspired me to become a certified pe

The Role of the Therapist

The therapist upholds much in my relationship with recovery, which is a lifestyle. My therapist helps in diverse ways such as holding me accountable to my treatment plan, routine to maintain wellness, and self-commitments, or personal obligations. My therapist helps me combat self-stigma, encourages balance and routine as well as focus on wellness. In short, my therapist plays a significant role in my treatment team that consists of my psychiatric doctor, nurse, myself, and them, the therapist. Whenever I have unanswered questions I take concerns to my therapist. My therapist finds resolutions pertaining to unanswered questions with my doctor, and general demands at the mental health center altogether. For example, when I had concerns paying for medication my therapist made a referral to the nurse to manage my needs. Also, my therapist can assist in scheduling appointments with the doctor whenever there is an emergency. Overall, the therapist plays a vital role in helping me stay a

Peer-to-Peer Advice

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia 12 years ago my doctor gave me two pieces of information: (1) take your medication, and (2) manage your stress. Since then I manage my household, part-time job, and family obligations to my child. Still, I underestimated the importance of stress management. I was hospitalized last year due to what seemed like a decade of stressors. These stresses included financial hardship, the anniversary of my mother's passing, and birthday, the breakdown of important relationships to my support system, and lack of awareness of my triggers, and warning signs. In short, triggers and warning signs are similar but different like a stop sign versus a yield sign on the road. Triggers are events or experiences that create negative consequences either emotionally, physically, socially, and legally. For example, a trigger may be going to a place that reminds one of a poor experience, and thus creates tension, stress, and dread, which leads to irritability

10 Ways That Shows Blogger LOVE

I posted this article on February 14, 2017, however, it is helpful to bloggers. Therefore, take notes! Thank you. What is more important? The message, messenger, or number of readers, and comments? I may not be the best blogger, but me and my blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia , was recognized and requested by some of the best… Huffington Post , a powerhouse and community-oriented pharmaceutical company, and organizations outside of my state, and country; including countless radio, and public relations’ requests to be on their shows, etc. When I started my personal blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia (2008), I was scared, anonymous, however very much honest, which was at times uncomfortable for me as the blogger author, and it was overwhelming for some readers. However, my blog has been mentioned in numerous articles, received a lot of attention from fellow bloggers, and was awarded by many of my blogging friends. I say all this to encourage you to consider my experience, rea