Sunday, October 28, 2012

Confidence in Recovery

When you feel that heated blast of air, or run into a brick wall while trying run a race, adrenaline is the recommendation to overcome those hurdles which beset you or slow you down causing you to wane in your abilities to succeed. Yet, it is confidence which carries you over the hurdles you must cross and a great part of confidence which exist in Mental Health is Recovery, crossing the boundaries of mental illness.
Recovery is an idea in Mental Health which began as research in 1987. Doctors and researchers other than the doctor who initiated the idea of Recovery, believed mental illness to be chronic and all that a mentally ill patient could hope for or expect is long term stability in their illness. Eventually it was uncovered that there existed outcomes associated with mental illness and many people did in fact progress beyond just stability. In 1993, Recovery was identified as a “deeply personal, unique process of changing a person’s attitude, values, feelings, goals, skills and roles. Recovery is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life even with limitations caused by an illness. It involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as they grow beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness”.
 Though I had been a part of the mental health system since 1985, I didn’t begin to accept my treatment until 1996, I had been through psychiatric treatment in three hospitals for drug addiction and alcoholic dependence, yet I didn’t begin to open my mind until I saw myself as I really had been. In 1996, I knew I was weak, without any strength, no home to call my own and very little self-esteem; this is confidence also, and I had none at all. I began to get serious about the groups I was attending; hope was strong within not only me, yet others whom have given me guidance and words of wisdom to walk away from the addictions I was suffering from. I began to understand my desire to want to live and I realized everyone has hope and I will become one with what I desire, freedom from my addictions and the mental illness I had accrued. I began to understand words such as Empowerment and what it meant, having control and power over my life and over my mental illness.
Confidence is having the mental and physical strength to oversee one’s life and to cross the boundaries that exist before you. Since I started working though, I noticed my strength waning and my hope becoming a distant reality. I realized it became not a matter of the medications which kept me built up nor the lack of belief in what I had learned to overcome my problems, it was becoming a part of the system itself and living a new role which I had in the past not accepted and that is as an employee; not knowing what’s expected of me. Going through this passage, I found that we regain our confidence and self esteem and are regaining a new identity; free of the stigma’s that we once lived with and are gaining a newer sense of life and priorities as well.
Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Creativity and Mental Illness Confirmed

This article talks about how people with mental illness are in creative professions. “People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population, there being a particularly salient connection between writing and schizophrenia.” This is what researchers presented. We have only to look at some famous people who have had schizophrenia one being John Nash. There must be a reason why. They do not say why it happens that people with mental illness are creative in this article.
What the article does say: “Last year, the team showed that artists and scientists were more common amongst families where bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is present, compared to the population at large. They subsequently expanded their study to many more psychiatric diagnoses – such as schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety syndrome, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, autism, ADHD, anorexia nervosa and suicide – and to include people in outpatient care rather than exclusively hospital patients.” They included just about all the psychiatric diseases. They also included alcohol and drug abuse patients.
Now we find out how they found the results: “The present study tracked almost 1.2 million patients and their relatives, identified down to second-cousin level. Since all were matched with healthy controls, the study incorporated much of the Swedish population from the most recent decades. All data was anonymized and cannot be linked to any individuals. The results confirmed those of their previous study: certain mental illness – bipolar disorder- is more prevalent in the entire group of people with artistic or scientific professions, such as dancers, researchers, photographers and authors. Authors specifically also were more common among most of the other psychiatric diseases (including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety syndrome and substance abuse) and were almost 50 per cent more likely to commit suicide that the general population.” They are more authors or writers will have schizophrenia or depression and always substance abuse. What can they do with these results?
It explains here: “if one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patient’s illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment, he says. In the case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost. In psychiatry and medicine generally there has been a tradition to see the disease in black-and-white terms and to endeavor to treat the patient by removing everything regarded as morbid.” As I read about other schizophrenics on the web they all seem to have negative side effects from the medication. Do they lose their creativity also? I know I am one of the lucky ones in that I can work. I can get up early and keep a sleeping pattern. I do not know what I would do if I was never have gone to college and get a job. I see the negative side effects as really bad when you would like to improve your situation and cannot. You can also check us out at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Living with Schizophrenia

It’s 2 o’clock in the morning. The wind blows leaves and dust against the window on to my apartment. I don’t know this as I had awakened to the sound of tapping and wind crossing my door. I walk out into the dark living room cautiously. The chilled air I could feel in the room as the wind whistled through the seams of the window and front entrance, building thought upon thoughts of all the wrong scenarios I could imagine. “Someone is trying to break in. I forgot to chain the door closed. The cat from two doors down is scratching at my door way.” I eventually look out the window, anger subsiding, fear dissipating, and the voices subsiding as well. This is a slight scenario of living with a schizoaffective disorder, living for years knowing you may never know the truth, or be cured of your diagnosis, being told who you are and how to change your life; yet as I struggle on, I wonder how much of that is righteous information.
At this present time I come to realize that I have fears, not paranoia, (living with false beliefs or delusions that someone is plotting against you or someone else), and I also came to believe that the schizoaffective disorder can be lived with, taking prescribed medications and having support. I do know I want to experience a new life, one that keeps me smiling and caring. I have headaches, though they’re not constant and are not about the schizophrenia and I know they don’t cause the auditory hallucinations nor are caused by side effects from the medication, yet I do know they’re apart of the wonderland I experience day to day.
These days I write on my computer, read occasionally and keep the company of relatives and several friends who accept my character, as well as my illness. I stay from the “nightlife” as this caused me troubles when I was younger. I isolate at times and I cope with the slightened depression which occurs by watching television and hoping laughter lifts the dark gray cloud away. I work for a mental Health Center, that’s great support and a great strength giver, meeting new people, and having the opportunity to share my life with others, and learn as well about mental health and what is being done for clients with mental illness. I keep a check on my thoughts, often time quizzing co-workers especially, about my attitude and emotional being. Its work that pays for itself in the long run, making new friends, keeping a check on your reality and facing the same without fear or boundaries.
Controlling your world, so you’ll feel better as time goes by, without depending on drugs or alcohol, without other ill feelings of morose. You can also check us out at
Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Schizophrenia no Barrier

In this article a successful community nurse could not find a support group for people like her.  She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. “Two and a half years ago, I came to Manitoba Schizophrenia Society and asked whether they had a support group for working professionals like myself living with schizophrenia, and when they  said not, Chris Summerville, the executive director of the society, said ‘Why don’t you start one?’”  She had a good idea.  It would make a person wonder just how many working professionals have schizophrenia or a mental illness.  They probably do not have time during the day to go online and to the forums that are set up for people with schizophrenia or mental illness.
The article goes on to say: “So Barb, who was diagnosed in 1997, created the Partners in Awareness group at the society, a peer support  group made up of dynamic Manitoba professionals living with schizophrenia.  When she isn’t working, Barb volunteers her time facilitating the group, which meets the first Tuesday of every month.”  She created the group and even volunteers in it.  How would she get people to join?  Where would she find the professionals?
It says: “it’s been hard, at times, to get the message out because there is so much stigma, it’s so large and overwhelming, that a lot of people keep their diagnosis a secret, they want to stay in the closet.  But we’ve put posters out and had a public service announcement on CTV.”  When I was in college a professor told me her cousin a lawyer had a mental illness and they had a magazine out for professionals.  Although I never found this magazine, and there does have to be professionals that have this disease.  I do know it is not the online schizophrenia magazine online.
How does she deal with the stigma? “Barb understands the struggle to overcome stigma first-hand. ‘My dad said I was lazy, and my brother said ‘just snap out of it; just flip on the switch and you’ll be fine.’ So it’s hard when you’re getting that kind of response from your own family,” says Barb. ‘And then, with the Vince Li case (the man who beheaded a sleeping passenger on a Greyhound bus), that put us back years, just when we were starting to gain some ground.’” In my case, I was lucky my family stuck by me and every time I face stigma I usually show them who it is giving me the stigma.  I faced stigma at a pharmacy and showed my mom how they treated me.  I changed that pharmacy.
The article says: “I guess what people need to know about schizophrenia is, a s long as a person is compliant with taking medication, you can fulfill your life; you can have the same dreams and aspirations as someone living without it,’ says Barb, ‘because even with my mental illness, I’ve obtained two bachelor’s degrees—a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of nursing.  And I obtained the bachelor of nursing after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.”  It is good to hear about people who did this after they were diagnosed.  I also received my bachelors and masters after I was diagnosed.  Here is the blog. You can also check us out at

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mental Health and Diabetes

I had done some light reading on diabetes a month ago, with the intention of writing about mental health illness and its effect on people with diabetes. I had found out that depression is the main mental illness people suffer from after they have contracted diabetes or have suffered with for a long time even as they may not have known they had the diabetic illness. As I read sporadically during the weeks I finally came across a write-up in the MSN news about diabetics and stigma as well as facing shame. I had to stop and think after reading the editorial, even though it wasn’t intense to the degree of mentioning depression or suicide, it did mention amputation, facing the truth of having diabetes, poor eating habits, and not taking care of yourself. The lack of exercise was another of those foreboding mentioned aspects of the disease and it was at that point, that I began to feel somewhat ashamed of myself. I don’t exercise and I do slip into depression at particular times when thinking of what kind of good times am I missing because of the side effects and symptoms I am living with. When I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, I remembered how I felt the shame of being fat, uneducated about what was happening to me, and the lacking of exercise which was a part of my life. I looked about the room full of people who were normal, mostly healthy, and felt the stigma of carrying diabetes and my own health. I began to feel I was fat, lazy and a junk food junkie amongst my fellow employees. The depression was real at this point, and the fears grew concerning diabetes; the amputations, the risk of heart attack, being too overweight and the shut in attitude I began living because of the effects I was living with which included my mental health medications. In short I thought eventually nothing good about the illness or my mental illness and I had no one to blame; diabetes is not a “crutch”. “Even diabetics themselves can have a blame-the-victim feeling, says Theresa Garnero, a diabetes nurse educator at the Califormia Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. “Granted, if you’re not eating healthfully, and you’re not exercising like you should – and most people don’t – there should be a modicum of truth to that.
Hidden shame of diabetes: 'I didn't speak about it' - Health - Diabetes | NBC News  after reading this editorial, I began to have a change of mind about life and death, it’s in my hands. I began to believe that the shame I was feeling was a matter of wanting someone to cry for me, pat me on my back and walk with me. I can’t change the side effects per se of my mental health medications, yet I can be strict about my diet, and even if I don’t exercise for long hours on end, I can walk and restrain myself from some of the other bad habits I have picked up on during the course of my years. Why burden yourself with the blues of something that could harm you, and why wait for someone to hold your hand, denial is our worst enemy, hope is the word we must understand to become healthier, even mentally. Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Schizophrenia and Risk of Heart Attack

This article talks about heart attack and schizophrenia. “Data tell us that people with schizophrenia have lifespan 20 years shorter that the general population.” We have to find out why and change that fact if we can. I know I would love to be around as long as I can to see my grandkids grow up and marry. Just see them find the life that they love. “There are different factors for this including and unhealthy lifestyle (substance abuse, smoking, not enough exercise, poor diet, etc.) increased rates of diabetes and problems brought on by the use of some antipsychotic medications.” These are things we can change to live a longer and better life.
I make sure on weekends that I walk for at least forty five minutes on both days. We cannot change the fact that we take medication. I have cut back on the amount of medications I take with my doctor. I found by exercising and I do not need all that medication. It is small steps that help. They have been tracking this for four years: “…tracking all incidents of heart attack and comparing the results among people with and without schizophrenia.” We must make our hearts better.
What else can be done? “Dr. Kurdyak offers two possible solutions: prevention is one (healthier lifestyle). The other is aftercare (all specialists need to work together to ensure that patients are seen again after a first incident of heart attack). They found that people with schizophrenia were significantly less likely (50 per cent) to receive cardiac procedures or to see a cardiologist within 30 days of discharge from hospital.” Why are they not seen the article does not answer this question. It is always good to see a doctor for follow up.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Empathy is Recovery

Do you feel you’re in tune with your doctor? What is patient engagement? Patient engagement is having an empathetic and trusting relationship with your provider, which is formed with mutual respect and understanding as it is a give and take response with the doctor and consumer or patient whom have active roles with one another. So what is empathy? Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings and experiences in a relationship.
Empathy allows the clinicians, doctors or others to connect with consumers.
Communication and listening is a very important part in the understanding of the consumer, patients needs and should be kept simple so that there is an understanding between doctor, clinician and patient. With the use of empathy a patient can understand and respect and learn by being listened to and can become more involved in their treatment and psychiatric needs. As a consumer I have somewhat a hard time expressing myself verbally and I feel weak when having to express my feelings or emotions, yet as I grow to understand the definitions and verbal usage of the doctors I associate myself with I know what I am seeing as this weakness. I grow stronger with a lot more courage. As consumers we can grow out of the mental and physical deterrents’ of our illness by understanding what empathy is and how we may use it, to make choices which empower us to grow.
Empathy allows the therapist to understand what the patients or consumers are experiencing. By knowing their emotions and listening, they can help and understand the patients and empower them to become active in their treatment and recovery.
Engage With Empathy : Health in 30
Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


A friend I have not seen since April of 2010, when I wrote this blog about my old apartment building that I used to live in. I lived there for about sixteen years. I knew this friend for about fourteen of those years when she worked in the building. I thought that ended after my court hearing. I watched her start as a receptionist and become manager of the building. I can remember the first time she started and also when my granddaughter was born and she helped me wrap her up to take her to visit my mom and dad, whom lived a block away. I really thought I was going to live in that building until I died. That was until three lawyers formed a corporation and bought the building.
Those lawyers were smart I will give them credit. When I sued them for being slumlords they put her against me. I settled as if you read the prior blog you will see. I had all the evidence to really sock it to them, even though they had a lawyer. When she walked down the block from that court I thought it would be the last time I saw her. I still visit my old friends that live in the building. I had known that she had quit after my court hearing, although no one knew why. I will find out why when I meet her for lunch this Friday. When I last saw my friend three months ago, I also saw her husband and he shook my hand. He speaks Spanish and I don’t so we could not talk to each other.
I also thought she would work there until she retired. Times change and circumstances change. I have often thought why I settled that case, I had so much evidence. When I first filed the case it was against another person who worked for those lawyers. When I went to the second hearing they had put her against me. When you have known someone for thirteen years and went through all the ups and downs and people we both knew that had died that were friends you can’t go against a friend and that is what those lawyer hoped for. I was angry at the time although time changes that.
I am just glad that she found me. Now there is no landlord/tenant in between us and we can be friends. I just have to find out if she is happy with her new job and how her family is. I miss my friends that lived in the building. Although I still go see them. I am happy with my new apartment. My grandkids are getting big and no longer come every weekend like they used to. I am looking forward to Friday. You can also check us out at

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Friend in the World

Taking command over your own thought processes, as the mind is a universal servant, or can be such the master of horror is not only a challenge, some might say it is quite unusual to say so.
If a friend ask you “what’s up and you answer to the fact that your quitting drugs, your changing your attitude to being negative so you can become healthy and better off in living a happier life, they might look at you with just an ounce of gladness or your friend might say, “It’s about time you thought of changing your lifestyle!”
When you begin to make mental changes, it helps to have support; and we all know how helpful a good therapist is, even the support of mental health groups can be stimulating when you have no other associations. The power of friendship is as such the power of having family and forming a close association with two or three people who are with a positive focus forms a relationship of support which is unconditional.
You should speak often with your friends, almost every day if possible and its best that one of them is not part of your regular cliché of family or friends, that way you can be open without fear of an offending or repetitious demeanor. “These are your best friends, don’t try to gather in the numbers of associations, in other words don’t try to gather so many friends, you want to have good relationships and if you lose a friend, that’s alright you’ll still be in touch no matter the distance no matter the conversation.
So what is all the conversation about as you meet with your friends from day to day or maybe just three times weekly? Most conversation is about victory and defeat and of course what we may be in awe of or whom. Laughter, conversation, sharing secrets and giving and sharing support are all of an air of unconditional caring and the giving of knowledge saying “we may not have come far, but we are here.
Written by: Donald S.