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Thank You To Those On The Front Line

I am experiencing a time of as-good-as-it-gets with the symptoms of schizophrenia. I always have symptoms, but my symptoms are not always debilitating. Right now, my life looks similar to the lives of most people I know.

During the good times, I try to consciously remember those who have the same illness as me, but who have a much harder time managing their mental illness. Maybe they are without treatment, maybe they are medication resistant, or maybe...


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Is Your Compassion Flexible? If Not, It May Be Wasted.

I used to volunteer at a soup kitchen every Monday afternoon. Many of the other volunteers had been helping out there for a number of years. When the coordinator would give me a task to do, I was often met with resistance from some of the other people. If I was told to put peanut butter in small cups or plate the cheese, inevitably another volunteer would grumble that my assignment was “their job.” If I...


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Preparation For An Emergency: An Active Shooter, Earthquake, Fire, Etc.

Two days ago, the unthinkable happened. There was an active shooter in my neighborhood and I found myself hiding in my bathroom until the police came into my building to get me and my neighbors out.  Our building ended up having the best view of the two windows where the shooter was firing his high powered rifle and the police and SWAT team needed our building free of people.

When the police came to get me,...


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Mental Illness Or Not, We All Need Someone On Our Side

The process for becoming a licensed architect in California used to require a person to have a degree, three years of experience, and then take eight competency tests, and then after passing those, the person was required to go before a board and pass an oral examination. The requirements have changed now, but when my husband was getting his license, this was the process.

The first time my husband went to take his oral examination he didn’t...


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Writing Can Lessen Symptoms And Alter Our Lives

People often call mental illness an “invisible illness.” For people with schizophrenia, the illness is frequently obvious especially if the person is not in treatment. Someone not in treatment who suffers from schizophrenia may be seen talking to voices no one else can hear, or waving their arms, or acting in a way that seems out of the ordinary. For those of us in treatment though, schizophrenia can be an invisible illness.

I like the fact that...


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Hate Change? Read This.

Some people hate change. Change can be uncomfortable, it can be awkward. It can make us feel a little lost and out of sorts. Change can take time to get used to, and in the process we can make mistakes and end up feeling a little foolish or self-conscious.

Forty years ago, having sexual harassment training in the workplace was unheard of. The first case of sexual harassment was handed down in 1976, but the issue didn’t...


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Letter to Future Americans

Dear Americans living in 2100,

I am writing you from the year 2015. Those of us living now, often look back upon the past and wonder, “How could people live like that?” or “How could people do that to one another?” or “How could people have believed that?”

Since you are reading this letter 85 years after it was written, I am sure you have some of the same questions for those of us living now.

First of all...


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It Can’t Be Paranoia If It Is Really Happening.

Seven months ago, I had no idea what the consequences would be of telling people I have schizophrenia. The information that I had kept secret even from most family members, I made public by writing about it in a book, on blogs, and in online magazines and forums.

Today I learned what some of the consequences are for exposing my illness in such a public manner.

I bought some pants from an online shop. Several days passed and...


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This Halloween Give Up Those Harmful Costumes

There is a movement in the mental health community to remove “mental patient” Halloween costumes from the inventory of stores. I first found out about these costumes, and then the movement, from a woman I know, Gayle, who is an incredible advocate for the mentally ill.

There is a similar situation for people of color called blackface. People have lost their jobs for dressing in blackface and most recently (this week)there were protests on the...


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Creative Genius? Violent Criminal? Let Them Both Go.

There are two popular beliefs about mental illness – the creative genius and the violent criminal. The creative genius is romanticized by both people with a mental illness and without.

Not being able to sleep, thinking people are out to get you, believing you are Jesus, or hearing voices tell you to take all your medication or jump off a bridge, there is nothing romantic about any of those things. Most of them are terrifying. Those are...