Schizophrenia is a disorder that one can learn to live with, but it takes time and experience. With more experience, those of us who are not too disabled can learn to cope and to function fairly well despite periodically experiencing symptoms.¹
Dr.Frese, quoted above, speaks from experience. He lives with symptoms of schizophrenia and has learned to function well enough to become a psychologist and professor of psychiatry. He does not say everyone facing a diagnosis will improve significantly, but he says many do. Below, you’ll find six videos and one audio recording made by people who have either recovered from schizophrenia or who live with symptoms and function well. Perhaps they appeared “too disabled” for many years before finding their way. . . may their discoveries help you find yours.
• Matti Salminen was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 27. He says he learned to “navigate madness” after experiencing multiple hospitalizations, group homes, and jail. In this short video² he shares what he discovered that “did more than any pill or doctor ever could.”
• Dr. Frederick Frese was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 25, has specialized in the illness for 40 years in his practice, and was a panelist on PBS’s MINDS ON THE EDGE: Facing Mental Illness. When asked if “sheer will” can overcome schizophrenia, Frese replied with the quote presented at the opening of this article. (The video listed is part one in a series of four.)
• In this short documentary three individuals who experienced symptoms of schizophrenia talk about the positive changes that have taken place in their lives. One has become a certified peer mentor by the state of Georgia, another is a writer, and the third is a mental health advocate. http://www.choicesinrecovery.com/about/documentary
• Pat Deegan faced 9 hospitalizations, some of which took place while she earned her doctorate in psychology. Determined to help other patients in the mental health system, she developed CommonGround, a “web-based application that empowers patients recovering from mental illness to take a more active role in their recovery.” “Swallowing pills does not make a recovery,” she says. “Recovery is about changing our lives, not about changing our biochemistry.”
http://www.forbes.com/sites/greggfairbrothers/2012/10/03/success-social-value-and-personal-mission-part-one/ (small ad pops up first)
CNN host Anderson Cooper used Deegan’s schizophrenia simulator, as reported in the Huffingon Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/10/anderson-cooper-schizophrenic-voices_n_5478583.html
• Anna credits medication and a very supportive family network as the basis for her recovery. She said she had to “came to terms” with her symptoms before she could progress. Anna taught herself to become more self-aware of her behaviors and of the facial responses of others to gauge any recurrent onset of distorted thinking. “My schizophrenia does not define me as a person anymore,” she said. Listen to an interview at:
• Nicola Hynes experienced visual and auditory symptoms at an early age but did not receive a diagnosis until age 21. Cognitive behavioral therapy along with acceptance of her illness has helped her cope with ongoing symptoms. After initially taking “lots of medication with massive side effects,” she now does well with one medication. She is a spokesperson for a mental health stigma reduction campaign in Ireland. http://www.independent.ie/videos/irish-news/nicola-hynes-interview-about-her-schizophrenia-30331823.html
Lauren Burke is an actress and therapist in Nova Scotia. Thanks to an early psychosis program and a peer support group, Laura went back to school after discontinuing her education due to hallucinations. She was surprised to find people diagnosed with mental illness “.. . . living completely normal lives, who were funny and smart and doing great things with their lives and who were in relationships and were in school and working.” 3 http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/n-s-woman-shares-her-personal-journey-with-schizophrenia-1.2886146
¹ “A Brilliant Madness” Online Forum presented by PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/nash/sfeature/sf_forum_0502c.html
² “Surviving Schizophrenia: Mental Illness and Recovery,” posted on the Vermont Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health web site, accessed 12/21/13. http://vermontviews.org/vermontviews.org/My_Side_of_Madness.html
3 From CTV News Atlantic, May 3, 2016.