This is the third and last interview I had with Lauren from Living Well With Schizophrenia. I appreciate Lauren for shedding light on theses issues. Also, I encourage you to subscribe to her YouTube channel. Thank you so much, Lauren. Enjoy everybody.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Sunday, November 22, 2020
As an advocate for individuals like myself who lives with schizophrenia I appreciate the message. This book is special to me as a mother who is in recovery. When I read the nature of Jackson's request for a book review I immediately jumped on the opportunity to support her. Schizophrenia is a widely misunderstood medical condition that even adults have difficulty comprehending let alone explaining to youth. Therefore, Jackson's calling to articulate this specific health challenge in a children's book is significant. Jackson beautifully illustrates the bond, confusion, and triumphs in managing schizophrenia. I encourage you to purchase this book today and to share it with your children, school, and community.”
-Ashley Smith, Author, Blogger, and Mental Health Advocate
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
The "Peer Support & Coping Skills," video is 2 of 3 interviews by Lauren from Living Well With Schizophrenia. In this video we explore what a certified peer specialist (CPS) does and how peer support helps.
I encourage you to learn more about the CPS position to train to become a CPS or to meet an individual who can support your recovery.
If you haven't already I want you to view Lauren's YouTube channel, Living Well With Schizophrenia and to subscribe. Lauren is a peer in recovery and she provides information on what it's like to live with mental health and how to manage.
Thank you Lauren for this opportunity to share my experience and to help the cause that is to promote awareness about mental health recovery, and to assist others on their journey to empower themselves through the lived experience.
Do share this video. Enjoy!
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
When I was trapped in my mind's chaos I did not recognize the signals to seek heightened professional treatment. The signals were people's strange facial expressions as they stared at me, my family's determination to see me voluntarily hospitalized, my poor appetite and sleeping routine, and my aimless desires, which consistently shifted and even confused me. I said things that sounded bizarre, but I could not challenge them because my focus sporadically changed to the next thing before I gave it consideration.
I have a good memory and could recall difficult moments. Those times when I was ignored, dismissed, and overlooked. I remember those close to me who I thought would be some of my greatest advocates, but disappointed me. I choose to focus on the solution and not my sad incidents with people. More importantly, I know the individuals who took the time to investigate my situation, and tried to help.
I choose to focus on the individuals who encouraged me the most. Some healthcare workers and law enforcement are compassionate, love their jobs, and do care. The state hospital doctor who diagnosed me, jail nurses and social worker, the officers, therapists, doctors, my family, and several individuals who I am fortunate to know. I wish I could remind them of how much their diligence makes a difference, and how they personally impacted my outlook on recovery. They instilled hope for me to be hopeful about recovery, and still empowers to this day.
My therapist of a few years challenged me to focus on how to manage. She helped me identify strengths and equipped me with information to access certified peer specialist (CPS) training. Over the years a few therapist offered a lot of coping skills to overcome daily stressors and symptoms.
Reflecting on my last experience with law enforcement. I'll never forget the compassion I saw in the officer's eyes, the one who drove me to the hospital. The officer at the intake department who stopped to listen to me ramble about how great God is. I am grateful how my state trains law enforcement to work with people like me who may experience crisis. I am fortunate to tell them my recovery at the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training in the past.
When I did not respond to the calls and text messages as usual my friend visited my home to learn what was going on with me. How my family took lead in caring for my son while I was hospitalized. Or when they advised me to go to the hospital. In the beginning, when I was first hospitalized at age 20 my mother told me I would share with others about how I made it through. I didn't know what that could look like. I'm glad my sister explained to me what a blog is, funny I struggled to be consistent at employment and had several jobs, but I maintained my volunteer work with NAMI Georgia for ten years and blog since 2008. I am thankful for my experience, but most of all my hope.
Finally, I want to offer some suggestions for supporting me and my peers. Let us know the signs that you see when we are struggling and have a conversation before it turns into crisis, and becomes a demand without explanation. Be honest and direct when you think hospitalization is necessary. Continue to learn more about our individual needs and take care of yourself so that you can support us better. Trust is an important part of relationships as you know, don't lose it. Lastly, recovery looks different for everybody, don't assume and compare us. Just be supportive.
Sunday, November 8, 2020
If I could send younger self a message when I was diagnosed I would tell myself to focus on two things: 1) stress management, and 2) self-encouragement. I would emphasize the importance of focusing on oneself, and not on others' perceptions of me due to the diagnosis. I would tell myself that most people will not understand, but that's not my problem. I would aim to reprogram the focus onto developing coping skills, an enriching self-care routine, building a stronger support system, and broadening my understanding of recovery, which is unique. I define recovery for myself as trying to stay in good space.
I would teach my younger self a few quick coping strategies such as how to manage anxiety, overcome depression, and identify a manic episode. Therefore, to relieve feelings of anxiousness manage house chores to get my mind off stresses and worries. To reduce the likelihood of experiencing my low places of depression - grasp the warning signs early on. Learn the subtle changes in routine, mood, and outlook, which indicates the beginnings of a downward spiral. For me that is poor sleeping habits, being easily irritable, not keeping my home tidy, and being bogged down by various stressors. Now when I identify the early warning signs I invest more time into my self-care regimen. My self-care is about finding peace of mind through praise and worship, writing, reciting affirmations, and walking.
Occasionally, I maintain a mood journal to track mood swings to recognize concerns with mania and depression. I acknowledge great days, okay days, bad days, as well as my triggers. I record daily events and monitor them by keeping a color-coded scale for different moods. Pink represents great days, green—okay days, and yellow, orange, or red are for my bad days which worsens into the color red. To sum up these coping tips—keep a routine, rotate coping techniques, and stay on top of triggers and warning signs.
Finally, I would advise my newly diagnosed self to get into therapy. Over the years, I learned how a therapist can help individuals rediscover their unique strengths and teach different coping skills. However, I can't go back in time to share these tips so I'm sharing them with you. To overcome the challenges of living with a diagnosis focus on yourself, manage the best way you know how, and never stop trying to find your good place in recovery whatever that looks like.
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
In my interview with Lauren from Living Well With Schizophrenia we discuss some of the challenges of parenting while living with a diagnosis such as schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder. As a mental health advocate I aim to continue to empower you with information to change perspectives that is to fight the stigma of mental illness, and to connect.
In short, Lauren and I talk about my experience in recovery and how I manage symptoms and crisis as a mother... This is the first of a few interviews that we did.
To learn more about Lauren's advocacy and recovery story subscribe to her YouTube channel, and visit her website, Living Well With Schizophrenia: https://www.livingwellwithschizophrenia.org/
Thank you Lauren and Rob for the opportunity to provide insight into this much needed discussion for hope and awareness. For our viewers- thank you.
Friday, September 25, 2020
Friday, August 28, 2020
In addition to the symptoms of this thought disorder, stigma is a great challenge, especially self-stigma. I believe it is among the top barriers to wellness. When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia it seemed that my identity crumbled. I used to cling to my college student role. My symptoms took away my motivation to study, speak, and do activities which usually gave me joy and a healthy outlet. When I dropped out of school I felt like I was less than. In the beginning, I did not know what my recovery could look like, I thought I would not be able to live a fulfilling life.
However, I was fortunate to have a lot of support and hope despite my health challenges. My doctor, mother, and treatment team gave me hope. When I was diagnosed my social worker, Elaine, referred me to a housing program and clubhouse which was empowering, because I was surrounded by peers with similar diagnoses. The program engaged us through recovery-oriented meetings, fun group activities, such as outings in the community, and a range of different classes like cooking. I am grateful I had access to the clubhouse and to treatment. A combination of peer support, therapy, family support, education, and goal-setting, helped me minimize self-defeating thoughts.
I have come a long way. I channeled my energy to grow at life. I worked diligently to live independently. I lived in a group home, rented a room from a family, and had a roommate. I learned how to negotiate my housing agreements in spite of a fixed income. I accomplished returning to work by volunteering. Moreover, I practiced what I learned to build myself up again after hospitalization. By taking on the work of goals and a series of building blocks I developed an enriching understanding of my recovery. Seeing peers manage the condition played a significant factor in my motivation to press forward in addition to the energy I put into my self-care.
Over the years, I learned how to focus on hope and goal-setting. Journalling, reciting affirmations, and cheering myself on along with my support system helped me overcome limitations that I thought I would not be able to maneuver. I have been in recovery for over 13 years. I volunteered with NAMI and other organizations, participated in group therapy, and became a peer counselor that empowers me to keep moving forward.
I accept I will have setbacks due to the nature of my illness. Mental illness raises many concerns like a wide range of various symptoms that effect mood, thoughts, behaviors, and the ability to function in different settings. I experienced the voices, a break in reality, mania, depression, catatonia, and the list goes on. I believe the stresses of life worsens the symptoms. I manage my condition by striving to follow a balanced routine that includes medication, therapy, walking, writing, spirituality, etc.
Mental illness is an invisible beast that most people do not understand. I aim to identify my needs, empower myself, and to be my best cheerleader despite the passing of my mother, who was key in the beginning stages of my recovery. Still, I hold on to hope that I will overcome setbacks through reflection on experience, using my coping tools, and embracing support from others.
My diagnosis stole my identity, but I created a better one which is the woman I am and also becoming. I encourage you to overcome self-defeating thoughts that bring you down.
For my peers and our caregivers: accept the fact that there will be great challenges, but also great triumphs in recovery. Everybody has different goals, needs, and concerns with this condition. Lastly, hold on to hope to accomplish your goals- whatever they are, because you are resilient, unique, and an overcomer.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
I did this by returning to the basics of self-care. That is to focus on getting adequate rest, practicing better eating habits, and managing stress, which required a lot of self-care. I attended intensive therapy sessions. We discussed a range of stress management techniques that would work well for me. I created a psychiatric advance directive and crisis plan.
I performed light exercise by walking my neighborhood. I exercised my mind by completing word searches. I listened to inspiring talks on YouTube. Therefore, I really dug deep within. I worked hard to stay in my good place.
I leaned on my higher power. Also, I recited affirmations and spoke my life's upgrade with conviction into the air. These activities became habits. I performed a range of additional behaviors that became routine.
Now when I find myself struggling I activate this regimen. It is refreshing- putting more time into self-care. To me building inner-strength is delegating more time to me. Investing more time into self-care develops a better person.
I believe we all hold the ability to master resiliency. It is about tapping into your good place by making yourself a priority. While relapse and hospitalization may reoccur I know how to reset, restore, and refresh myself back to better health. You can too. When is the last time you pampered yourself? -Put your stresses on hold and made yourself a priority?
Lastly, meditate on these questions for yourself: where can you go to replenish yourself? What did you read in the past that helped you? Who encourages you to press onward? What quote empowers you? What healthy activities relieve you? How can you make time to add this to your routine and enhance your well-being?
When will you activate your new routine? Let's go!
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Sunday, May 24, 2020
|World Schizophrenia Day, May 24, 2020|
- Myth #1: Schizophrenia is a personality disorder.
- Myth #2: Violence is a symptom of schizophrenia.
- Myth #3: People with this illness are demonic.
- Myth #4: Schizophrenia is caused by poor parenting.
- Myth #5: Recovery is not possible for people living with this condition.
Thursday, May 21, 2020
|Regaining motivation is tough but it is possible.|
Friday, March 13, 2020
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
I commend my peers for striving to overcome the fight. The fight against self-stigma. The war within our minds, and the struggles we aim to endure daily. I stand with you not simply in symptoms nor words, but through this fight called life, stigma, and mental illness- the label, the confusion, the pain that we must preserve through every day. Remember this- you are not your mental illness. You are uniquely made. Different from a lot, and blessed like many. You are strong through this struggle. I encourage you to continue to cope as best as YOU can.
Have a GOOD day. We got this!
Friday, March 6, 2020
|"You alone are enough. |
You have nothing to prove to anyone."
- Maya Angelou
Thursday, March 5, 2020
|In Love with My Spirit- Again! Journal:|
Prayers, Affirmations, and Questions to
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Saturday, February 1, 2020
Thursday, January 23, 2020
|Author of Coping Takes Work|
Monday, January 20, 2020
Monday, January 6, 2020
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...
I am concerned that I may be slipping into depression that may get worse if untreated. Prior to the birth of my child I never had a bout w...
Did you know that both identical twins usually do not develop schizophrenia. Schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, is not developed so...
In this entry, I'll share my experiences with Schizophrenia in regards to feeling lack of trust in others, paranoia, and isolation.... I...