Jael LHoon

@jaellhoon
Sponsored by
Corinne K.

Why I’m Grateful to Care for My Brother Living With Schizophrenia

When my brother, Reuel, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his twenties, my family had to adjust to our new reality of caring for a loved one with a serious mental illness. In 2003, I moved Reuel into my house so I could take over his care full-time. As a caregiver and his sister, it is my goal to help my brother to be well and to be given the same opportunities as others. I want to give him unconditional love. After Reuel’s schizophrenia diagnosis, we worked with his doctor to develop a treatment plan, including medication and supportive therapy. His condition did not seem to improve, and we later discovered he was not taking his oral medication. My main concern was making sure he swallowed the pills prescribed to control his schizophrenia symptoms – I’d even examine his mouth after giving him his medication. It was a challenge to care for Reuel during those years. As his caregiver, I go with him to his visits with the psychiatrist. Following a week’s stay in a mental health facility, my brother and I talked to his doctor about a change in his treatment plan. We learned that a once-monthly injection could help delay time to another schizophrenia episode (breakthrough symptoms or relapse) and discussed medication side effects. It was important to me that Reuel was comfortable with the medication and the administration. When Reuel switched to a once-monthly injection, I could see improvement because he was taking his medication consistently. After being on this once-monthly injection for some time, Reuel’s condition was well-managed. His doctor informed us that there was a longer-lasting injection that Reuel could be given. For Reuel, finding a treatment plan that works for him has helped him pursue his goals. He likes music and collecting cassette tapes from antique shops, and reading magazines in book stores. He follows his routine – visiting a day program three times per week that focuses on life skills, like cooking and computers, and where he can socialize with others. I want to share my story to encourage others because of the difference we saw in Reuel’s life. Through my experience, I’ve realized it’s important to be grateful for the opportunity to take care of someone who needs help. Gratefulness gives me the motivation to do my best in my care for Reuel. For adults living with schizophrenia and their loved ones, it’s important to have open discussions about mental illness. To see other stories from people advocating for better schizophrenia understanding and outcomes, visit #ChangeSchizophreniaExpectations on The Mighty. Every story is unique. If you are an adult living with schizophrenia, talk to your doctor to figure out a treatment plan that’s right for you. Corinne is a volunteer with the SHARE Network, a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., program made up of people who are dedicated to inspiring others through their personal health journeys and stories of caring.

Community Voices

I am writing this today to give hope to someone that it is never too late to do something you want to do and that if you fall down, it's always worth getting back up.
I have a long standing mental illness. I struggle a lot everyday and have done so for as long as I can remember. I am 29 and I have recently graduated with a psychology degree after three attempts and a journey of 11 years. It all started when I finished my A Levels and planned to go to the university that I had set my heart on going to. It was a really good university and it was doing a subject I loved. I was so excited and planned accordingly to move into halls and start the next chapter of my life. However it came to the night before I was meant to leave and I just couldn't do it. I lay down on the floor crying my eyes out and I mentally felt this block stopping me from even thinking of going to the university the next day. I decided I couldn't do it, my anxiety was so high I felt like my mind was going to explode.
I decided to go to a local university and study a subject I kinda liked but it was important to know I could go home at the end of the day. I did well I attended and completed all my assignments. However I had this nagging feeling that I had to try again to go to my dream university. So I applied and this time I did go and moved into halls and hated it. I moved back home pretty quickly and did the four hour round trip each day to attend. Unfortunately this lead to a breakdown and I had to quit university for the second time. I was diagnosed with EUPD and hit rock bottom. I attempted suicide and decided life wasn't worth living. However university became my goal to work towards to get better for. I was determined to finally graduate and get my degree. It took me five years to rebuild my life and feel strong enough to apply for a different university this time studying Psychology. This time I managed to graduate I won't lie it was hard. I struggled with my mental health and realised pretty early on that I didn't want to go into a psychology career. However I became so determined to finish for myself. This was my hurdle I had to get over. For 11 years all I thought about was completing university and proving to myself I could do it. I did it I graduated and realised I was a stonger person that I gave myself credit. To those reading who don't believe they can YOU CAN. It make take forever tto do it but that doesn't matter. If I can do it so can you. #MentalHealth  #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #EUPD #Anxiety #Depression

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Community Voices

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Karissa Pierce

5 Reasons You Should Talk About Your Feelings

What are the reasons you shouldn’t talk about your feelings? There are none. Yeah. That’s right. There is not a single reason on earth for why you should not talk about your feelings. As a matter of fact, I can give you five reasons you should talk about your feelings. 1. Your feelings are important. There are so many times that we invalidate our feelings. We say things like, “I’m so upset that I got a ‘B’ on this exam.” But then we start to think things like, “This is so dumb, why am I upset? I passed,” when in reality it is in no way dumb that you feel the way you do. You have reasons for feeling that way and maybe they seem small to you and insignificant as if there are bigger problems in the world, but if it is making you feel a certain way, then it is just as important as anything else. 2. Talking about your feelings allows you to acknowledge them. From personal experience, I can tell you that one of the first steps of the healing process is acknowledging your feelings. A lot of the time, if you do not acknowledge when something is real, it is so much easier to just forget about it and move on, but to be completely honest with you, that does not solve anything. When you are able to accept and acknowledge that what you’re feeling is real, it allows you to begin healing by figuring out ways to manage those feelings and solve whatever issues it is that are causing those feelings. 3. Talking about your feelings can help you to feel relieved. Holding in your feelings and letting them boil and build up inside of you, in the simplest of terms, sucks. Once you let them build up enough, these feeling start to become all you can think about and they almost in a way start to overcome you. You become a different person, one who is so self-consumed by these feelings that you start to not care about anyone or anything else. When you let out these feelings, this wave of relief washes over you, because you are no longer holding all this in, you let it out. 4. Talking about your feelings allows you to receive support from those you share them with. When you talk about your feelings, more specifically when you talk about your feelings with others, you will more times than not be met with more support than you would’ve ever thought. It is terrifying to open up about what you’re feeling to anyone but it will make you feel a million times better when you do it and you receive all this support and you realize that there are people here for you and people that care about you. 5. Talking about your feelings allows you to take control of them. When you just hold in your feelings, they start to consume you. How you feel determines how you think, which determines how you act. When you let these feelings take control of you, they also take control of how you think, which takes control of how you act. So, if you are the one that decides to actually talk about how you’re feeling, you are no longer letting your feelings control you but instead you are controlling them and you are able to try and do what you can to change them. Talking about your feelings is not easy. Many things in life aren’t easy. But, the day you start doing it will be the day you start the rest of your life.

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Kateri

How My Christian Faith Helps My Mental Health Recovery

For me, living with schizoaffective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an everyday struggle. Some days are alright, when the demons in my head are neatly tucked away and I can smile and laugh like any other person. Other days the emotional pain is so immense it is physically tangible. On those days, it’s all I can do to get dressed and slump into my armchair. Showering, housework or exercise feel impossible. Once I went five days in a row without showering, too broken to do anything but cry. Most days, though, fall somewhere in between the two extremes. Fighting multiple mental illnesses is exhausting. Like swimming against the current of a raging river, battling a mental illness can seem near hopeless at times. And yet I continue to fight, refusing to give up even when my mind screams at me to do just that. What is my biggest motivation to continue on? My faith in Jesus Christ. I use my Christian faith to help my mental health recovery in several ways: 1. Prayer I pray every day, morning and night and several times in between. I talk to Jesus like he is my best friend and mentor, because in actuality, he is. When my anxiety becomes unbearable, when I am terrified that somehow I will be raped yet again, I pray. I pour out my fears to God and feel a sense of peace fill me in return. Does the anxiety vanish completely? No, but it becomes manageable. It becomes something I can handle with my coping skills. When my depressed mood overwhelms me to the point of suicidal thinking, I pray to God for the strength to carry on. Do the heavens part and a magic wand is waved to take away all my problems? No. Instead I believe God helps me in far less dramatic ways, placing people and events in my life at the right time to help me on my journey of life. For example, when I got out of the psychiatric hospital in March of 2017, I was on the waitlist to get into the intensive outpatient program at my counseling office. Still devastatingly depressed, bordering on suicidal and utterly unequipped to handle the various symptoms of my mental illness, I prayed to God to help me hang on. He did. Within a week of me being out of the hospital, I was accepted into the intensive outpatient program and began learning skills to cope with my mental illness symptoms. Now, a month and a half into the program, I have several skills to turn to when I seem to be falling apart from the inside out. I believe God doesn’t always part seas for us, and instead sometimes our prayers are answered in simple, quiet and effective ways. 2. Reading the Bible Reading God’s Word has become a part of my daily routine — as essential to me as brushing my teeth and combing my hair. I wake up in the morning, get a cup of coffee and crawl into my recliner with my Bible in my lap. I read the Old Testament in the morning and before I take my nighttime medicine and go to sleep, I read the New Testament. Why is the Bible so important to my recovery? Because when I have no words of encouragement for myself, I inevitably find some in God’s Word. One morning I was really struggling with feeling like my mental illnesses made me too weak to achieve my dream of becoming a pastor. I happen to read the following passage that morning, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Through God’s Word, I have learned that what seem like my weaknesses can actually make me a stronger person. 3. Attending Church Since I turned back to God in October 2016, I have attended church every Sunday, save for the times when I was in the psych hospital. For me, there is something uniquely uplifting about Christian fellowship — something about hearing a church full of people reciting the Lord’s Prayer together, head bowed, hearts open to God. I love everything about attending church. From seeing my friends in the congregation to singing songs of praise from praying to the sermon to Communion. I gain an immeasurable amount of strength from these gatherings with fellow Christians in worship. The congregation’s kind smiles and encouraging words and God’s presence filling the room help me see through my mental illness symptoms to a future of recovery. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via ijeab.