My Reason for Starting This Blog

I started this blog to reach out and connect to people with similar challenges in a healthy and positive way. The blog has personal history, ideas on lessening the severity of some symptoms, insight, goals, and therapies for those with similar diagnoses or those with family members or friends that are curious on how to communicate or help their loved one.

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It’s fulfilling and therapeutic to open up about my past, present, and future goals. I’ve enjoyed the messages that I’ve received from likeminded individuals through my books’ contact information. Some of the things that helped me aided them as well. That makes it all worth it.

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By finding articles and researching studies to write my own articles, I learn more about my diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment for my disorders and those of loved ones such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, eating disorders, self-harm, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, among others.

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Some people who read this mental health blog are concerned individuals who want to reach out and connect with the mental health community to understand what their children, family members, friends, or acquaintances experience. Some of the earliest posts on this blog are from a few years ago when I started it. My mental health took a downturn for a brief time, and I became distracted. This time around, I’m in a better place and have learned more than I knew before and continue to take part in therapies to lessen the illness. I welcome those new readers and thank those that have written to me about the topics I share here and those in my books.

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub, BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Schizophrenia’s Lifelong Treatments

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness where contact with reality and insight are impaired, an example of psychosis. Symptoms of schizophrenia include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder (unusual ways of thinking), as well as reduced expression of emotions, reduced motivation to accomplish goals, difficulty in social relationships, motor impairment, and cognitive impairment. 

Schizophrenia is a severe, long-term mental health condition that requires lifelong treatment, even when symptoms subside. Treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed.

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Medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment, and antipsychotic medications like Seroquel, Risperdal, Lithium, or Haldol are the most commonly prescribed drugs. 

First generation antipsychotic medications, meaning discovered in the 1950s, formed one of the greatest breakthroughs in psychiatry. However, first-generation antipsychotics have frequent and potentially significant neurological side effects, including the possibility of developing a movement disorder (tardive dyskinesia) that may or may not be reversible. Fortunately, for me it was in my case. Newer, second-generation medications are often preferred because they pose a lower risk of serious side effects than do first-generation antipsychotics.

Newer mood stabilizers are also used to treat the condition, as is in my case. Mood stabilizers work for me because the hallucinations and delusions vary based on my mood. For example, on New Year’s Day of this year, I was admitted to the emergency room for breathing problems and an upper respiratory infection that was not COVID but was severe enough to scare me. And with the added stressor of loved ones not being allowed into the room with me, the voices were incredibly terrifying. So, my mood being down, the voices were predominantly negative, suggesting that I take my own life. The following three weeks found no relief since I was put on prednisone, a glucocorticoid, which amplifies feelings and/or conditions. In my case that was the negative voices.

On the other hand, I’m typically even-keeled, and some say optimistic a good portion of the time. So, the limited voices correspond to my mood and reveal themselves to be cathartic, even encouraging, but mainly limited in their ferocity thanks to the mood stabilizer, Abilify, which I’m on maximum dosage. After a few more months of this leveling off, I’ll go back down to a moderate dose. But, after many years of being overly optimistic about my condition, I’ve come to the realization that I’ll be on a mood stabilizer, if not anti-psychotic, the rest of my life.

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In addition to medication, there is the ongoing psychosocial therapy. That too, will be lifelong, hopefully not as often as I’m currently required to see the therapist. So, like the 3.5 million others battling this mental illness and the 100,000 new diagnoses each year, I will continue to press onward and upward so that I’m not in the 3.5 times more likely who ultimately take their lives. Schizophrenia isn’t a death sentence and many of us with it choose to say we battle it as opposed to suffer from it.

The most difficult thing to deal with, for many, isn’t the disease itself but the stigma surrounding it; but, for me, that’s probably in part to my social anxiety disorder, which is a comorbidity. Schizophrenia is most often seen in patients that have an underlying or overlapping condition such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and panic disorder, which makes it difficult to diagnose and why so many suffer without the therapies, whether medication or psychotherapy, that assists them in battling the condition.  

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels or Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

Book review: The Place Between Breaths by An Na

Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2018

This little, cerebral thriller of a book packs a punch. However, there’s a few things to consider before you read it. It is a book about mental health and schizophrenia. It is not a fluffy cuddly book. This one bites, and confuses. The author has South Korean origins, meaning that the Eastern influences are heavy in the writing style of the book. And why do I say both things before I even review the book? Because if you’re expecting a perfectly “coherent” fluffy book, this book is not it and it definitely isn’t a Western view of the world even if it is set in the US.

Throughout the novel we get to know Grace, who saw her mother deteriorate in the grips of schizophrenia, and then ultimately disappear from her life. Her mother has never been found, which has led Grace’s father on a desperate quest to find a cure for this debilitating illness. Grace interns at the lab where her father works. He is a headhunter, bringing in the top scientists from around the world to join forces in search of the key that will unlock a cure for Grace’s mother—the love of his life—if only they could find her.

This is a non-linear novel that uses the seasons of the year to anchor you in the story. Na is a master of imagery and it felt to me that her arresting descriptions of the weather coincided with Grace’s moods and mental state. I could be reading too much into it, but nothing in this book felt accidental.

In addition to jumping back and forth between the seasons and around in the story, the reader is also left to parse between reality and delusion. This made for an intriguing and gut-wrenching, but unenjoyable read. Though, I would argue that “enjoyable” was not the goal, and for this I was glad.

Though a novel, this did not read like an attempt to make schizophrenia into entertainment. This felt like a deft effort to bring understanding to an illness that continues to be misunderstood, despite decades of research. The portrayal of this mental illness and how it breaks the mind apart from the inside out was honest and elegant. It does not glorify the disease but rather exposes it in all its gruesome tragedy.

It was definitely worth the read, and I believe an important work for helping people understand what schizophrenia looks like from the inside out. It’s a confusing illness, and to wrap up the story with a neat little bow would have been disingenuous. In the end, I appreciated the beauty and tragedy, and clarity and confusion Na wove together to create this novel. There are a lot of twists and intriguing bits in the story where at first you aren’t sure but as the story progresses you begin to realize how much Grace is fighting and what “enemy” she’s fighting. In my opinion it was a clever book with the way it sets things and how it leaves you guessing

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels or Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

How do I think other people perceive me?

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While I have anxiety, OCD, and schizophrenia, I oftentimes feel that people think I’m sitting in a corner in utter anguish and hearing voices. I have stressors like everybody else so I have rough days, but those are usually days that would be stressful to anybody. Some examples are work issues, writing challenges, family matters, and such. I feel like pulling my hair out some days.

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But the voices are well-controlled with medicine, and my OCD can be uneasy at times, but it’s not noticeable. My delusions are kept in check with consistent therapy. Now for my social anxiety: I’d say that’s the most challenging for me. It’s hit or miss. Adrenaline usually helps me make the day. However, there are days when I just can’t handle the bustling crowds and choose to stay home and read a book or paint. But all in all, I think that I’m underestimated and viewed as the images above show: cowering in a corner, frantic at my computer, or hiding behind a tree.

Book review: Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

Random House, 2017

This YA fiction novel tells the story of Adam, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, is about to start a new school, and is also in a clinical trial for an experimental drug to manage his symptoms, the most prominent being that he’s sees people that aren’t there, all the time. Adam discusses friends, family, and love as he navigates a world much different than his peers. He gains a new best friend, attracts the attention of a bully, and falls in love all the while his main concern is traversing a new social situation without giving anyone reason to think he’s “crazy.”

This book is comprised of Adam’s journal entries to his therapist. I think the end just really highlights the strong relationships Adam has, and how they can support him. Adam is an amazing character, because he feels so real. I enjoyed reading his thoughts about the little things and his vision of the world. This book will make you laugh, cry and smile. It also brings a new light on schizophrenia, a disease most people do not know much of. This book sits right next to The Fault in Our Stars and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Words on Bathroom Walls is a beautiful, touching book, a true masterpiece. Adam is so engaging and funny, and his commentary on the cast of characters in his head so fascinating. While he wants to keep a secret from close ones at all costs, his drive behind it is that Adam just wants to be known as a normal kid. I like that Adam himself is a complex, but likeable character; he likes making people happy and does noble deeds, but he makes mistakes from time to time as well.

The conflict Adam has with himself, over keeping his mental illness a secret is well-written and the people Adam hallucinates and interacts with as a symbol throughout the book represent Adam’s thoughts and feelings, adding to the conflict. Above all, I came away with mental Illness isn’t something we can control. Learning to live with it is difficult and we should never have to apologize.

Book review: Ghosts of Harvard by Francesa Scottoline Serritella

Random House, 2020

The protagonist, Cady Archer, goes to Harvard with the intention of finding details about the suicide of her brother, Eric, who had schizophrenia which creates a division in her family with her father supporting her intent, and her mother opposed because she’s in fear of losing her daughter as well.

Serritella deftly weaves together this highly textured and atmospheric study of historical knowledge and theoretical physics to build an interesting, gripping mystery, as opposed to a typical ghost story. While high-functioning, Eric, did have psychotic episodes, and he stopped taking medication, as he became dedicated to his research on entanglement theory in a notebook that can only be described as a cryptic map of sorts which Cady ends up using in her search for what ultimately happened to her brother.

Like her brother before her, Cady, in mourning as well as danger, also “hears voices,” but are they hallucinations, aspects of medieval science or quantum physics bending time and space, or are they ghosts from Harvard’s past? Perhaps all of the above? Fortunately for Cady, one of the voices helps her escape a rapist.

What she discovers is quite startling and troubling but is a page-turning read. All in all, it’s not the YA fiction about mental illness that I’m used to reading. It came across as more supernatural with some stereotypical characters but ultimately was a well written, witty, suspenseful, and interesting read about personal growth.

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Angela Grey is a writer with paranoid schizophrenia, OCD, PTSD, and social anxiety. She has created memorable moving tales about the sometimes unexpected and challenging road to first love: Secret Whispers (a story about schizophrenia), Déjà vu (a tale about a teen with bipolar disorder), and Of Laughter & Heartbreak (a piece about obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on Bookshop, TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Book review: Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman

Thorndike Press, 2015

In recent years, mental health has become a rising issue in society, especially in youth. This story details mental illness, schizophrenia to be exact, showing real ups and down, not glamorizing it, and giving a real depth to it that is truly sad at times.

The narrative follows fifteen-year-old Caden on his journey to both the lowest point on earth and recovery. As a result of his mental illness, Caden seemingly lives in two separate worlds, one being the real world, and the other on a ship under the direction of a Captain.

This boy is written in a way that can also be understood by a younger audience as a YA novel that could also be read by mature primary aged readers. At the start of the novel, Caden’s parents try to cure his paranoia and anxiety through hobbies. As his schizophrenia worsens, Caden is hospitalized where he meets other teens, who all suffer from a variety of mental illnesses. It’s a potent, realistic, relatable narrative that connects to readers because of the utter honesty of one struggling with mental illness.

I recommend it to increase awareness of schizophrenia and those that struggle with it because it encapsulates the emotions of everyone involved.

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