I subsequently received training and started my own peer-to-peer group with the help of a caring co-facilitator who walks in my shoes. I also started a blog on schizophrenia where I seek to share my experience and educate, as well as provide a social network for those seeking help. We are not alone. I voraciously read whatever I could get my hands on about mental illness.
Mysplitmind.com creates and collects book reviews on literature dealing with mental illness. When faced with something that strips you of your control, you have to do whatever is in your power to take that back, and that includes self-educating and continuous learning.
Lesson number 3
Exhaust all options. What I discovered is that treatment for a mental illness is a multi-faceted proposition. Adherence to a medication regimen is the cornerstone of treatment. Within three months of taking my medications I acquired insight into my illness and with insight came hindsight and with hindsight came an awareness that began to clear the fog in my mind.
Along with that, an individual should seek out psycho-social therapy in the form of support groups or one-on-one counseling with a psychologist. One should seriously explore the possibilities of cognitive behavior therapy because the combination of therapy with medication greatly reduces the chances of relapse.
An individual should be seeing a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and possibly a case worker or social worker. Definitely explore the possibilities of federal aid. Vocational Rehabilitation is there to help find gainful employment and will even pay for school. Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income can also provide help for individuals who are disabled with low income.
I have been told repeatedly mental illness is a disease of cycles, which may include relapses. I hope to prepare myself for the unpredictability of life with a mental illness. My recovery has occurred smoothly because of the rapid response my family had to my first psychotic break in college as well as the unconditional love and support they have provided me with.
I don’t know where I would be if I had to do it one my own. I am a privileged person. I have health insurance and a loving family that provide support. To all those afflicted with a similar condition, remember above all else to allow those who love you to help you. And take your medication! Without assistance and medication your mind is like a boat helplessly lost at sea and separated from the shores of reality.
And to those who are the friends and family of those afflicted: Be patient and understanding. This will be a lifelong battle that can be fought and won with dignity and courage.