This is the second part of the interview with Ashley Smith, fearless recovery blogger and all-around wonderful person. At the end of the interview I will provide a link to where you can buy her first book.
CB: How long have you kept the blog and what is your goal in publishing What's On My Mind? How has keeping the blog helped you in your recovery?
AS: I established my blog, “Overcoming Schizophrenia” in September 2008. My hope for What’s on My Mind? is to let others know that people living with my condition can live a quality life. I would like my book to be received by my peers, especially those who are newly diagnosed, families, students and educators, mental health professionals, and people who want to learn more about recovery.
I also want this book to reach the general public and the African American community to help open dialogue about mental illness, to change perceptions, and to offer awareness and hope to weaken the stigma.
I’ve always kept a journal it helps me maintain emotional stability and to remember trials and successes. Therefore, my blog continues to allow me to have an outlet and to receive feedback, which benefits my needs. My fellow bloggers help me to aim higher by fighting my ongoing challenges in recovery.
CB: How has helping others helped you to recover? I've dubbed this the "born to serve" ethic: the idea of placing "service above self."
AS: By sharing my own experiences with others it reminds me of what I’ve been through and the experiences push me to want to practice good habits to stay in recovery, and to continue to live a quality life.
I am also a speaker for the Respect Institute of Georgia. In other words, I was trained to articulate my recovery story in order to express the lived experience to offer awareness. I am a regular speaker for this organization.
CB: Tell us a little about your life now. You believe individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia can recover. Talk about the Jansen film and what's happened since you appeared in the video.
AS: Being in the documentary, Living with Schizophrenia: A Call for Hope and Recovery, helped me reach out even more to peers and others. The film supports my philosophy that although schizophrenia is a challenge it is a condition like any other that can be managed. Since the film my story was featured in several media outlets including CNN Human Factor, The Tavis Smiley Show (radio), SZ Magazine, BET Health Hero, BlackAmericaWeb, and Women are Worthy (radio) among other media channels.
My life continues to get better in spite of living with schizophrenia. Now I work as a CPS in Atlanta, Georgia and I also have my own family. I work among a few other CPSs and facilitate meetings with peers, participate in community events, and promote independent living in our peer center. Moreover, the CPS position is a growing movement that is changing the recovery process.
I love my work and look forward to working with my peers. Now I am a mother of one, and I treasure our learning experiences and silly moments. What’s on My Mind? is another dream come true, I can check that off my goal’s list and move forward to complete my study in psychology and to become a homeowner.
Finally, my personal experience combined with exposure to different people living in recovery confirms that mental illness can be manageable. I am not unique in managing my condition and living a quality life, I have many peers who also live a fulfilling lifestyle.
CB: Your story is truly inspirational. What's on My Mind? can be bought at createspace and Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. I'll end by referring our community members to your blog Overcoming Schizophrenia. Thank you for stopping by.
Published On: April 02, 2014