Tuesday, September 3, 2019

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 intervention. 

Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia
Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia (2010)
However, my first conference was with Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia. I spoke at their annual conference. Dr. Stephen Ayers was executive director and engaged in my blog early on. I had a great experience, and still keep in contact with Steve. 

Another individual and blogger that supports Overcoming Schizophrenia is Christina Bruni. Christina is an author, journalist, and librarian. She's been a reader of this blog from the beginning. In fact, she wrote the foreword to my book, What's On My Mind? Volume I. Thank you Christina for your ongoing support.

I appreciate working with NAMI Georgia, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training program, and the Respect Institute of Georgia for many years. These organizations value recovery stories and help reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals Documentary,
Living with Schizophrenia:
A Call for Hope and Recovery (2011)
I was trained by the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network (GMHCN), and the Appalachian  Consulting Group as a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS). A CPS is an individual in recovery who models recovery and offers peer support. 

In 2014, I was among the three keynote speakers for the annual conference of GMHCN at St. Simon's Island, Georgia. They supported my first book, What's On My Mind? Volume I, and provided a complimentary copy to each attendee.

Moreover, I appreciate you all for participating on this journey with me. Also, I am thankful for the support of my Embracing My Mind Facebook fans. My hope is that you find inspiration in my story and manage recovery well. Furthermore, society may stigmatize us with fear and stereotypes, however, we do not have to feed into the discouragement and hold self-stigmatizing beliefs. We have come a long way in managing recovery, but we still have work to do in managing the stigma.

I have endured discrimination in housing, employment, and socially from persons I would not have expected. Still, I seek to enjoy life and recovery by striving to accomplish my goals and to share my recovery journey with you. 

Author of What's On My Mind?
Volume I
What's next? I am working on my second book, What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work, Volume II. This book is a continuation of the first book. It covers a few years of blogging 2014-2019. Coping Takes Work is a collection of blog articles that focuses on how I regained control of my recovery after last year's hospitalization. I share a lot of practical coping strategies to help manage my condition. Still, I concentrate on how recovery is possible. I will self-publish Coping Takes Work within a few weeks. My hope is that you would enjoy this read and continue on this recovery journey. 

Thank you for acknowledging my blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia with me - 11 years and counting.

Much love, 
Ashley Smith

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