Following are stories of people who understand and are living the experience of mental health recovery. These are people who live with or have family members with a serious mental health condition. They know the struggles, challenges, joys, and successes of the mental health recovery journey.
Recovery Coordinator, Advocate, Public Speaker, Volunteer, Friend; in Recovery From Schizophrenia.
For James Kindler, the early years of his illness were, as he says, hard and confusing, because "nobody knew what was happening to me." Since receiving his diagnosis of schizophrenia over 30 years ago, he has found medication that manages his symptoms, a job he's passionate about, and hobbies he enjoys.
He currently works as the recovery coordinator for a nonprofit agency dedicated to supporting high-quality mental health and substance abuse treatment. In his position, James teaches other mental health organizations how to incorporate recovery principles into their work. He says that his coworkers know about his illness and treat him the same way they treat anyone else who works there.
James has always been open about having schizophrenia because he believes it's a good way to overcome the stigma attached to having a mental health condition. "I self-disclose to everyone I meet and I have a 'take me or leave me' attitude. It has been very educational for me and very freeing for me, but everyone must deal with the stigma in their own way."
When it comes to medication, James says, "I learned by the school of hard knocks. I used to go off my medications and every time I did, I wound up in the hospital. So after about 4 times of doing that, I finally accepted the illness and the medication—and I have never gone off again. I use weekly planners for my medication and don't miss doses."
He says he takes a very proactive role in his treatment, working closely with his doctor to choose medications. "I have studied the prescribing information in the Physicians' Desk Reference for each of my medications, but this may not be something everyone is willing to do." He does think that everyone should be as involved in the decision making as possible, and open and honest about their symptoms in order to receive appropriate treatment.
For James, it was necessary to try different medications before he found one that worked well for him. The one he takes now has been working well for him for 7 years. He used to hear voices, but he says, "This particular medication just stopped that symptom in its tracks."
James attributes his active and productive recovery to several things, including:
It's important to remember that individual results with medication therapy may vary.