Schizophrenia And Recovery: A Firsthand Account

  • Kurt Snyder is the lead author on the book Me, Myself and Them: a Firsthand Account of One Young Person's Experience with Schizophrenia.  He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and hasn't had the clinical symptoms of this illness in at least four years.  He is a database administrator for the State of Maryland as well as president of his local volunteer fire department.

     

    The memoir, coupled with detailed information about schizophrenia, is well worth the read and it's a short book crammed with useful insight.

    Chapter one gives an overview of Kurt's story and talks about what schizophrenia is, who gets schizophrenia, where it comes from and what the early warning signs are.  Chapter two talks about the symptoms of this illness and the different types of schizophrenia.  Chapter three details his ongoing struggle, and discusses how schizophrenia affects everyday life, when and why hospitalization might be helpful, the ins and outs of inpatient care and where you can get help outside of the hospital.

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    The book continues in chapter four by going into how schizophrenia is diagnosed, what conditions often coexist with this illness, the types of medications used to treat it, the use of therapy and the outlook for the future.  Chapter five details Kurt's ultimate recovery and acceptance of his diagnosis, psychosocial treatments, and real-life techniques for coping with schizophrenia at work or school, living on your own, handling social situations and coping with stress and change.

    Chapter six ends the firsthand account with a description of Kurt's life today, frequently asked questions, a glossary, resources, bibliography and index.

     

    Why is this book important? It pulls no punches and tells it like it is. 

    From page 110: "Research has shown that people who take part in psychosocial rehabilitation programs while continuing their other treatment tend to manage their illness better than those who don't."

     

    Further: It's honest about the divide between provider goals and the individual's treatment goal.  A lot of us diagnosed with SZ are perfectly fine having residual symptoms and rather than focusing on completely getting rid of them our goal is often "to live on our own and have a full and rewarding life."

    Kurt then details sample adjustments you can make at school so that you can continue your education while experiencing symptoms or stress.  He describes sample adjustments you can make at work, like getting permission to call treatment providers and other supporters during work hours.

     

    He even talks about how not to become a crime victim.

    The epilogue of the book is called Putting the Pieces Back Together: My Life Today.

     

    And in it, Kurt is honest saying:

    "I continue to take medication as prescribed.  Medication is the reason I was able to recover.  I had lived with delusions for years and never recognized the fallacy of my beliefs until I started taking it.

     

    It has now been more than six years since I first started taking antipsychotic drugs.  I've had a few unpleasant side effects over the years, but these were managed effectively with the help of my doctors."

  • He continues:

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    "I now talk openly about my disease.  Nearly everyone I work with knows about it, and I've also told several people in the fire department.  They don't seem to treat me any differently and they accept me for who I am."

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    He states: "I was also recommended for my current job by someone who knew I had schizophrenia.  This person didn't stereotype me as a lifelong lunatic."

    All I can say is: "Way to go, Kurt!"

     

    I urge you to read Me, Myself, and Them and especially if you are a young person facing the emotional challenges of a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

    You can recover.  Kurt Snyder is living proof and so are the numerous community members sharing their stories here at the Connection.  The choice of whether to disclose your mental health condition is a personal one that requires great thought.  I, for one, am glad that Kurt chose to tell his story.

    

    Me, Myself and Them is available in paperback for about $11.  I recommend you buy the book.

Published On: November 28, 2011