Your feedback is essential to the psychiatrist.  In the beginning patients want to be “fixed.”  They want the medication the doctor prescribes to solve everything.  You have to take an active role in your treatment.

Question everything the physician does, every medication you are put on.  After all, it is your body you are putting the medication in.  Learn what to expect, with every medication adjustment.

Learn what a therapeutic level is.  How long it takes to get there, what changes to expect.  Learn the side effects of each medication you are on, whether you can live with them.

Learn, also, what changes will occur in you body and mind, when to determine whether the medication is, truly, helping you.

You are not a passive participant.  The doctor can not prescribe medications properly without your accurate feedback.

Know the time frame of each medication, how long you have to wait before it works properly, if at all.

The medication is only an aid.  You still have to help yourself.  The medication does not work properly if you do not take care of yourself:  that means eating correctly and sleeping enough regularly.

You have to know if the doctor is listening to you.  Don’t be afraid to change doctors if they are not.  I have fired a few in my time.  This is harder to do if you are going to a mental health center but it can be done.

Learn everything you can about every medication before you take it so you know what to expect.  Your feedback is essential to the doctor.  He can not do his job properly without it.

An open letter to an young adult struggling with mental illness:

I am sorry you had to spend New Year’s in an hospital.  I pray you get the help you need in the hospital (and when you get out).  You hardly eating for several days did not help.  Medications can do strange things if you are not eating properly.

Unfortunately when you get diagnosed mentally ill and exhibit aberrant behavior like paranoia and psychosis others simply say you are “mentally ill” when the very drugs you are taking may be causing you those symptoms.  I can’t say for sure.

I still don’t think you are on the right medication.  You did well on one drug but it had an unfortunate side effect.  It is very difficult taking medication because you have to admit you have a problem.  After all these years I still don’t like I take medication.

I urge you not to go back to your parents.  It is not good for you.  Everything centers around a job.  You may not get there immediately.  Your independence.  Your residence.  Your ability to choose your own doctor.  Everything.  It is up to you.  You have to take more responsibility for your life.  It does not happen overnight.

You have to find a regiment of medication that helps you.  It is just an aid–no more.  You still have to help yourself.  When you become stable again please look for work.  Don’t expect others to take care of you.  You still have to take responsibility for your life.  The more you do so, the better you will feel about yourself.


From one who went through it and wants to make the journey for another a little easier.

It is by grace I am here.  Alive and well.  I knew too many who did not make it back.  They became lost in the labyrinth of their minds.  And did not find their way back.  I did.  I knew many swallowed by the “system”.  After awhile it no longer mattered why they were there.  The damage was done by the caretakers.  My family could have easily given up one me.  There were points in my life where my situation seemed hopeless.  It is only by grace I am here–only by the grace of God.  I am a walking “miracle”.

There is nothing I can do but pray.  My daughter is in a bad way, has been for awhile.  I feel helpless.  I know what she can use but I have no idea how she is going to get it.  I want to help, but I can’t easily.  I can just be there when and if she comes to me.  All I can do is pray.  I know in my own life things did not turn around until I hit bottom.  She is close and I can’t help her.  The only thing I can do is get on my knees.  That is the only thing I can do:  get on my knees.

It was cold and wet, an utterly miserable day.  I quickly “dashed” to the post office and then the local supermarket and returned home.  When I left, three dogs squeezed past me into the yard–only because they liked going through doors and could do that.  I was only gone fifteen minutes and all three dogs ran in (???) immediately in the house when I opened the front door.  Even the dogs did not want to be out long.  It was that kind of day.  It could have been worse:  the temperature could have been a little lower and we would have had snow.  Nevertheless, I am glad I had heat and was inside.

I don’t have to stockpile:  God will always provide for our needs.  It says in the Bible He will only provide food and shelter.  I don’t need a backup for every item I use in the house.  I was making a list and there was no need to buy everything on that list.  I crossed off some items I will not run out of immediately.  I am reminded of a parable Jesus related:  a farmer had an exceptional crop and built even greater storage bins and Jesus said something to the effect that you will not be around to enjoy the fruits of your crops.  He wants you today.  Your time has run out.  You have to have faith God will provide for your needs and sometimes He will do it a day at a time.  When God provided food for the people who Moses led out of Egypt, the manna could only be used that day.  You had to have faith He would provide more food the next day.  I do not have to stockpile my goods.  ‘Give us our daily bread’ the psalm says.  A day at a time.  That is all we can pray for that God provide for our needs a day at a time.

Our large wooden picket fence transformed our yard.  It gave us a degree of privacy we never had before.  I can’t even remember how it was before.  It changed our whole property.  It was also a landmark.  We had found a Mennonite to build it and he did a wonderful job designing it.  We have had others commenting on its beauty.  It was one of its kind.  I love looking at the sloped fence from a distance.  I was thrilled we were able to afford it.  It added so much to our property.

We had built a large five foot wooden picket fence around part of our property.  Our fence was a real gift.  I passed two dogs teetered outside to a cord and they seemed really content.  Our four dogs can run freely within our yard.  For a whole year we put out each dog one by one so they can do “their business”.  Then we were able to build a wooden picket fence and we no longer had to do that.  The fence was a real gift.  I am not taking it for granted and appreciate (it ???) each day.  All we have to do is open our front door and release our dogs into the yard.  Many people have to walk their dogs regularly.  Our fenced yard is a real blessing.

I was appreciating my MP3 player just now.  Two birthdays ago it was a present.  She literally spent hours downloading several hundred songs on it.  She thought I might use it for the cross country train ride we took then.  I really did not appreciate what she did.  Until now.  The fact is I don’t like listening to my MP3 player through my head phones.  Recently we bought a new car that has an auxiliary to the stereo.  Now I can enjoy the music she downloaded almost two years ago through the car stereo.  She knows my musical tastes and she also has her own preferences.  I usually play “DJ” in the house.  Now it is her turn.

Praise the Lord for small favors.  Our TV in the living room “burnt out”.  It just did not work any longer.  When you turned it on, all your saw was a line or two in the center of the screen and there was, also, no sound.  I wanted to see our favorite show, “The Saint”, starring Roger Moore.  Every ten o’clock in the evening we watch it and then go to bed.

There was another color TV in the office we were not using so I quickly hooked it up to our antenna and “box” so we could watch it.  We found out the color was crisper than the old one and although the screen was smaller, it did not seem too small.

The next day I tried to figure out how to wire the DVD player and also the VCR to it.  I quickly drove to the nearest Radio Shack and they sold me something called a modulator, which enabled me to hook up a DVD to the old TV.

Now I had to figure out how to wire the VCR also.  I called my brother-in-law and he suggested a type of splitter, which I had.  I used it and now I was back into business:  both the DVD and VCR were now hooked up to the TV and worked.

Everything is by grace including advice by people and old TVs that still worked.  It even had a remote and now I can go back and watch my “Touched By An Angel” episodes again.  I know the latest thing is all these gigantic flat screens with brilliant color but I was happy to have this old color TV.

I shuddered when I saw my Mom’s photograph.  As far as I can tell it was a photograph taken in the cemetery when my father died.  She was this grim looking woman who had a long brimmed black hat on and steadied herself with a cane.  When I viewed this photograph again, she had been dead nine years.  I had forgotten about her.  How crazy she really was.  She tried to control Dad with all her illnesses she was always complaining about.  He resisted this.  She was hard to get away from.  When I was a child and young adult, I had no choice.  I could not get away from her.  Her fears and anxieties ran her life and those around her.  I had forgotten her and how nuts she truly was and how incredibly controlling she was.  And she was viewed sane.  I saw this first hand.  The photograph of her brought back all these negative feelings about her.  It is a terrible thing to say:  she was my Mother but part of me was glad to get rid of her.  There is so much, though, you can discard.  I can only escape her to a certain degree.  I know part of her is in me.  And I am aware I still owed her a debt.  There were traits she transmitted to me I am glad to have.  It took a long time to shed parts of her I wanted to.  And some I never will.

Black moods often follow when you have slept badly.  Not all the time for peoples’ constitutions differ.  There is nothing like a solid good night sleep to restore your mood and dispel depression due to fatigue.  Your emotions sometimes are deceivers.  You can’t always rely on them to be accurate.  If you are eating correctly (yes, a poor diet heavy on sugar can exacerbate depression) and sleeping well and you are often depressed, there is another reason you are depressed and you have to look at that.  In any case, realize a bad night sleep can darken your moods and all it takes is a good night sleep to brighten your day.  Depression can be solely physiological due to a bad night sleep.  Sleep is restorative.  When you sleep, your body purges itself of poisons.