Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Social Cognition is Crucial to Employment in Schizophrenia

This article talks about why people with schizophrenia find it hard to get employment and stick with the job. It says: “Social cognition—the ability to comprehend and appropriately respond to social interactions—appears to be among the most important variables in achieving successful employment for people with schizophrenia.  In fact, social cognition was found to be more important than basic neurocognition and clinical symptoms, according to a study presented in a poster session at the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research in Orlando, Fla., by Felice Reddy Ph.D.….”  I read a lot about schizophrenics that want a job than they get one and do not interact with their fellow employees in fact they find it hard to.
The article goes on to say: “Social cognition has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years as an important variable in understanding schizophrenia, principal investigator Robert Kern, Ph.D., told Psychiatric News in an interview at the congress.  It includes the cognitive abilities and processes involved in understanding human interaction, perceptions of others and their emotions, and what is known as ‘theory of mind’—the ability to think about what another individual is thinking based on cues in the social environment. These are abilities that most people take for granted, but in schizophrenia we know now that social cognition is one of the key areas of dysfunction, Kern said.  ‘In the work I have been doing for 10 years, one of the primary aims has been to identify variables that distinguish those who are successful in finding work from those who are not successful.”  The studied people with schizophrenia that were successful in holding down a job and found that those that did were able to get along socially.
The article says: “Kern said that the ability to interact socially, even at a minimal level, is key to maintaining employment. Employers will say [of a patient], ‘Well he does the work O.K., but I don’t know what’s going on with him.  He never talks to me or other workers, and during a break he just goes off by himself.’  And the patients will say, ‘The work is O.K., but I don’t really feel comfortable around the other workers, and I definitely don’t want to talk to my supervisor’.  He cited an example of one individual whose car broke down but who was terrified of calling his supervisor to explain; four days went by, he never showed up at work, and he was fired.” I am shy by nature and it takes me awhile to open up about myself.  When I get to know you I will talk though, although I have been this way all my life.  That is why alcohol used to make me more social.
The article says: “Kern emphasized the importance to successful bridging strategies of a clinician who knows the patient well. “ Cognitive skills training needs to be tried to real work-a-day problems encountered by the patient, he said. But that’s a moving target unless you have someone working with the patient on a regular basis.”  Well it is good to see that with cognitive training you can overcome this problem.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stability and Aging

When people think of disability, they usually think of someone as having a difficulty, such as managing their life or being dependent upon the government or society which is necessary for everyday living, and with the growing numbers of people who are classified as disabled, researchers feel it’s time to define new strategies which would prevent and slow down the rate of people becoming disabled. 
In the past, research has displayed that unhealthy behaviors, such as (poor diet, smoking, and lack of physical activity) have a negative effect on the health of people.  Obesity, diabetes, cancer, stroke, drug abuse leads to death and even such increases unhealthy behaviors. There have been researchers from France and the UK whom have done studies which were to investigate relationships of unhealthy behaviors and disability for over a decade.  They studied a community of older people (65 years or older) and interviewed them about their lifestyle, smoking habits, their diet, physical activities and alcohol use.”
There were three levels of disability: (1) mobility, (2) activities of daily living and (3) basic living.  Mobility was defined as heavy or strenuous activities that are heavy housework, walking, or climbing stairs.  Daily Living was defined as using the phone, managing medications and use of money, use of public transport, shopping, preparing meals and doing laundry.  Basic Living included bathing, dressing, toileting and eating.  Anyone that participated in the study was considered disabled if they could not perform at least one activity without help.
In the Mental Health system in the US, we face the world of the disabled with somewhat open hands and mind to give those who are disabled a fighting chance, not only to exist in their own space, but to become educated in caring for themselves not only before they reach and elderly age, yet while they are growing before they become elderly.  As we know most disabled people find it hard to care for themselves, through education and the Mental Health system today, we can reduce the unhealthy behaviors and unstable behaviors which have come about through Mental Illness.  Though consumers may have a disability, they are given a chance to grow resilient and understanding especially of their illness.  As unhealthy behaviors exist, these behaviors can be slowly changed as the individual becomes more independent and stable in his or her life. 

Written by Donald S

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get Movin’

That is what this article talks about to reduce obesity in the state of Colorado.  This also has to do with recovery from mental illness.  Why because the antipsychotic medicines we take make a lot of us gain weight.   Also as we get older we find it harder to lose that weight.  The article says: “On July 11, LiveWell Colorado (, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing and reducing obesity in the state, launched the Colorado Get Movin’ Challenge, an effort to motivate residents to commit to a month of physical activity.  The free online log encourages participants to do something from a list of hundreds of possible activities, from walking and gardening to more strenuous efforts such as running and rock climbing, for an average of 30 minutes a day for 30 days in August.” Right now I am walking at least six days a week.
When I noticed I was gaining and not losing anymore I started back on the treadmill.  I am on it for thirty minutes.  This last Saturday it said that I had lost 120 calories and on Sunday it said 125 calories.  I do not watch how many calories that I usually eat, although I noticed that if I eat my three meals a day I do not snack as much and I think that is where those extra calories come from.  Geodon that I take is supposed to be weight neutral.  I know I gained all this weight when I was on Moban.  I should have started exercising then. “It never fails to amaze me the physical, mental and emotional change that happens when people take time for themselves to be active on a consistent basis, he says.  But the Get Movin’ Challenge is designed to be just that, a challenge.  If you feel that making time for yourself is challenge enough, then that works just fine.”  Even though on the weekends that I work out on the treadmill I still take my walks. 

I feel that should help me lose more even more.  As I said people with mental illness have a tendency to put on more weight with antipsychotics and they also get diabetes more.  That is something I want to stay away from.  That is one reason I started back on the treadmill.  Also finding a time in the early morning when no one else is on it in my building.  Right now my goal is to get back to where I was a couple of months ago.  Then I will set my goal for losing even more.  I live in a good neighborhood where you can walk to stores and other things so that helps.  If recovery is what you want then you should also exercise so you can live longer to enjoy life.  People with mental illness die 15 to 20 years younger than the rest of the population.

Monday, July 22, 2013

In Tune with Your Mental Health

Mental Health is described as your mental state of mind, how well you feel and how you can cope in your daily life.  I change from day to day.  One day I feel I can conquer the world, the next day I am as sluggish as a turtle.  If you have good mental health you can feel confident in yourself almost always, you are never afraid to express yourself or emotions, you have a positive outlook and relationships with others and your livelihood at home and abroad, especially at work is productive and you cope with stress, change and other uncertainties.
What takes a person such as myself or others from such positive movements, becoming unable to cope with stress or feeling “blue”?  We might have suffered some loss of a loved one or a dear friend, we might be suffering from loneliness or even still, we might have problems with a relationship.  We could even be worried about work or debts which are hard to manage, in any case we are going through a time of “bad” mental health, when we cannot cope or manage emotionally or cannot think rationally.
How to stay mentally in tune in these “bad” times is to remain resilient or to build our resilience so that we are strengthened and able to face what is difficult.  If you trust someone, talk to them about how you are feeling.  They could be friends, or family, even someone connected to the church, anyone who can give you advice which is sound and practical.  If this isn’t possible, just talking the problem through can help you to understand how you may become a better feeling person. 
We all need some kind of support, and building relationships is important in staying healthy.  Associating with people who are positive, you can build a better image of yourself and feel what it’s like to be confident and how to cope with situations which may be problematic.  If you care about people you will find they in turn will care about you and be just as supportive.  You will feel better about yourself in the long run and if you don’t have anyone to associate with or a friend, you may find that you might experience some negative feelings and if this is the case, learn and or experience something new, such as a hobby, which can build knowledge, patience and a way to share with others who share the same liking of such an activity or hobby.  This direction becomes a new challenge which has meaning for you and in your sharing has meaning for new friends who can help support you as you associate with them. 

Written by Donald S

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Conflicting Public Attitudes to Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article.  Although before I go into this in my last blog about hope a couple of weeks ago I wrote how it was hard on my daughter and she just had to keep up the hope.  Well in the last week she had two good things happen to her and she is not stressed and I do not have to be a sounding board and not be able to help.  She was really stressed at time wanting to just give up but she has three kids and could not.  I am really happy that she is not stressed no more and that she quit one job and has weekends off finally.
Now we just have to keep hoping that the stigma gets better.  That is what this article talks about conflicting attitudes towards schizophrenia. “People are becoming more ready to accept a biologic explanation for schizophrenia, shows a German study spanning 21 years.  On the other hand, the study participants became less comfortable with patients who have the condition, with more people interviewed in 2011 wishing to keep a social distance than in 1990.”  We are ready to accept that it is biological although keep away from me.  This study was finished three years ago.  I thought some things would have changed by now.
This is the hardest part of the study as people with schizophrenia need jobs also to make it in this world. “For example, the proportion of people who would not recommend a schizophrenia patient for a job rose from 44% to  63% (the largest increase) and the proportion who would not allow a schizophrenia patient to look after their children rose from 67% to 79% (the highest rate).” The last one would not let a schizophrenic look after their children.  It is not passed on like a cold.  Stigma has a long way to go yet.
There looks like there is some good news with this study: “However, participants were markedly more ready to recommend professional mental health services to people with any of the conditions.  There were large, significant increases in the proportion of participants who would encourage patients to see a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist, and who would recommend psychotropic medication and psychotherapy.  Seemingly, the changes that have taken place in psychiatry over the past decades have benefited the image of psychiatry, but have failed to improve the image of patients. Say the researchers.  Further efforts are necessary to combat the stigmatization and discrimination of people with mental illness.” I read some of the sites of people with schizophrenia that they even talk what is recovery?  I heard about but have not met no one that is recovered.  I feel I know for a fact that I am not alone in being recovered.
I remember in college a professor telling me her cousin was a lawyer and they had a magazine of people that were successful that had a mental illness. Unless we tell they will never know that we have a mental illness.  Because I look just like anybody and you would not know it. Here is a link to an article on IQ it might be interesting.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Writing is a Tool to Heal

Talking about experiences which are difficult to overcome, eases the pain consumers may suffer when traumatized, yet research has been done which shows that expressing the self by other means can help the healing process of trauma not only mentally but physically as well.  This is expressing the emotions in word.  Its been understood that relinquishing the emotions of a traumatic experience may be consoling through writing because there is a calming effect when people are writing.
The study being done for the first time showed that, “writing about personally distressing events can speed wound healing in an older population that is at risk of poor healing”.How Writing Heals Wounds — Of Both the Mind and Body |  This however is not the only time a connection has been understood between mental and physical health.  As I have written in the past a number of letters, I myself find that what I have written did have a calming effect on me, though I was not suffering from any experiences considered a trauma, I did find that I felt peaceful and that my relationships and thoughts were clearer of those I had been writing to. 
The terms in psychological health, it proved a bit more conflicting, as a recent study expressed that writing about disturbing events which happened to soldiers might improve relationships among those soldiers returning from war zones, while in another study those suffering from PTSD who wrote about their experiences found no consolation at all.  Yet, they did after putting their emotions in words, found that their mood improved and there were less stress hormones in those patients.
Writing it is said, helps the body by reducing stress and there is less anxiety, therefore lesser stress hormones which could interfere with the physical wound healing.  Emotional writing is not helpful for everyone.  In one particular study it was found when some people wrote about the worst parts of their trauma, their anxiety level increased and those people who are open emotionally, showed less worry.  All of this goes to show people have ways of coping which are different from others when engaged in a traumatic experience and that those who find solace by expressing those events find it by expressing their emotions through writing which has become an important tool to recovery to them of both the mind and physical body.

Written by Donald S

Monday, July 8, 2013

Growing with Recovery

I think about being a recovered Mental Health client-consumer many times throughout the years that I have been working and associating with co-workers and others.  I know that “recovery” began in the late 1980’s, a time when I was virtually useless as a drug addicted person and alcoholic.  As the Mental Health system began to change so did many others I knew as consumers and as I began to realize that I had to grow, how to start to make a transformation
I did not know.  People other than those I knew as an addict, peers in the mental health system, began to associate with me and began talking about becoming cured or recovered from their mental distress, their illness, even I wondered if there was a “cure” for the illness I suffered from, besides addiction and drunkeness.  As time progressed I learned ther were internal and external forces to be recokoned with.  Resilience and hope, words I never used, besides empowerment and something I lacked, which was responsibility and self-direction were words I never thought of until I thought of reaching out for help , yet as I grew, I learned I could educate myself about my symptoms and learn to cope and manage these symptoms of my illness.  I could with this new knowledge, mold my self with self-discipline and know what empathy meant in this society.
Recovery means changing direction, your attitude and what you believe in from what I have learned about others and myself as well.  It doesn’t mean having a reliance on medicine, pills or self-medicating your self on illicit drugs or alcohol, it means to search and explore your personal self, exercise and meditate and find a balance between yourself and those who care to help you as well as loved ones. 
Focusing on building a new world for yourslef is a step in recovery, from the woes of distress which had become common to you to knowing that recovery makes you a new person, one who is unique with an ability to understand your rights and who knows the choices and self direction of your life. 

Written by Donald S.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


We all need it.  I always come back to writing about hope because people sometimes forget that things can and will get better.  When you are down it does not seem so.  I remember being at the State hospital.  I was confused when the medication started working.  I had been to prison before but this place was totally different.  The people were my age and like me.  Although they were different that the people in prison.  They played games and were not as serious as in prison.  There you played games you better hope you did not to someone who could kill you.
When I started asking how long a person would be there.  I heard from people that had been there for years.  Then they told me it would be almost five years before I would get out.  I also found out I was sentenced to one day to life in their so if I did not straighten up I could be there for a long time.  When after trials with the medication and they found one that worked for me.  I started just thinking about getting out of there.  They told me everybody gets one chance to get out.  I started thinking this is my chance to change my life.  I still had a friend that would not stop smoking that weed no matter how much I talked to him.
It was more important to me to have my freedom and be back with my family. I started going to school there and learning typing from zero to 40 words per minute.  I started changing my whole life.  I went to a drug and alcohol facility there in Pueblo.  I walked in a blizzard to an A.A. meeting because I wanted out.  I always had hope that I would get out and stay out.  I have been out of their now for twenty years and I do not want to go back.  I hate that place worse than jail.  Too many games are played there.
Just have to remember no matter how down it looks there is always hope. I never give up no matter what because there is always hope.  I just hope that I can instill that into my grandchildren.  My daughter gets discouraged but she keeps hope she has to because she has three children to take care of.  Things will always get better.

Monday, July 1, 2013

How Castles Are Built

Many people in our society would like to change their lives. Changing your life through Recovery takes self control and self control is having will power, the near mystical ability to change and achieve our goals. Will power is not really mystical in its sense, it is self control, the ability to set and maintain the destination towards our goals and the ability to make changes in our life style. Many of us today state that because we lack will power, or don’t have the reasoning to make the changes in our lives that we would care to, that we don’t and therefore do not succeed in achieving our goals. It’s not that we give up on making our changes which may be imperfect; the reason is we haven’t learned will power or self control to build our strength through such practice, or we don’t have enough time to build will power or self control in our lives. You don’t get will power in one day, learning from a book or a self control guru or therapist. The lack of will power isn’t the only reason you may not reach your goals, it’s the need first of all of motivation and mindfulness to have honest goals, secondly you need to establish self-discipline to maintain a standard of behavior to reach that goal and third, you need to understand will power or having self control. There are many different kinds of names for will power; self control and self-discipline are just two of them, yet will power can be defined as:
• The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse
• Conscious effort regulation of the self by the self
These are just two definitions about will power.
It was found in a study given by researchers of Duke University of individuals who were followed from birth until the age of 32 who were studied in New Zealand. They found that as these individuals being studied had a greater sense of will power that they were physically healthier as well as mentally. There were fewer drug abusers, and fewer individuals were prone to criminalities. As we proceed in life as individuals who care to change our lives through Recovery, we must understand we have dealt with our own short comings and must learn to apply ourselves, with discipline and control in order to overcome old barriers and utilize our strengths and determination to meet our goals in life.

Written by Donald S.