Monday, September 23, 2019

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 mental illness could lead to shame, suffering, and silence. Although there are a range of issues related to suicide, untreated mental illness increases the risk for this epidemic. During my interview with Jacqlyn, she revealed that she experienced unexplained suicidal thoughts. Mental health effects the whole person. Fortunately, there are ways to cope and manage.

Jacqlyn and I talked about therapy as a great coping tool. Therapy has many benefits especially when medication is not effective or an option. I highly recommend therapy because it works for me and I believe it can support peers in recovery.

Jacqlyn and I discussed a range of topics related to the stigma of mental illness. Out of the many misconceptions of living with this condition the most disturbing myth is the idea that people living with schizophrenia are demonic. I mentioned my feelings about this myth and my encounters with persons who hold on to this misconception. This myth is a widespread belief that is hurtful and dehumanizing. Jacqlyn and I spoke about other common myths too. 

I am glad Jacqlyn and I had this discussion during National Recovery Month (September). I enjoyed the conversation to spread light on the common misconceptions because self-stigma can manifest hopelessness, suffering, and pain. My forthcoming book, What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work, Volume II offers a hopeful message through the collection of these blog articles. Coping Takes Work focuses on practical coping tools such as therapy to combat self-stigma and to manage recovery.

Here are some resources that were mentioned in the interview:

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