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First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery

Craig W. LeCroy (Editor), Jane Holschuh (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-44452-8
516 pages
August 2012
First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery (0470444525) cover image
In First Person Accounts of Mental Illness, case studies of individuals experiencing schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, substance use disorders, and other mental ailments will be provided for students studying the classification and treatment of psychopathology. All of the cases are written from the perspective of the mentally ill individual, providing readers with a unique perspective of the experience of living with a mental disorder.

"In their book First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery, LeCroy and Holschuh offer the student, researcher, or layperson the intimate voice of mental illness from the inside. First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery is a wonderful book, and it is an ideal, even indispensable, companion to traditional mental health texts. I am grateful that they have given the majority of this book to the voices that are too often unheard."
—John S. Brekke, PhD, Frances G. Larson Professor of Social Work Research, School of Social Work, University of Southern California; Fellow, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare

"This is absolutely a must-read for anyone who has been touched by someone with a mental illness, whether it be personal or professional. It is imperative that this book be required reading in any course dealing with psychopathology and the DSM, whether it be in psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, or counseling."
—Phyllis Solomon, PhD, Professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice and Professor of Social Work in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania

A unique volume of first person narratives written from the perspective of individuals with a mental illness

Drawing from a broad range of sources, including narratives written expressly for this book, self-published accounts, and excerpts from previously published memoirs, this distinctive set of personal stories covers and illustrates a wide spectrum of mental disorder categories, including:

  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance-related disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Impulse control disorders
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Gender identity disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence

Reflecting a recovery orientation and strengths-based approach, the authentic and relevant stories in First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery promote a greater appreciation for the individual's role in treatment and an expansion of hope and recovery.

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Acknowledgments xv

Introduction xvii

About the Editors xxxi

1 Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders 1

Schizophrenia 6

The Best Medicine 6
Susan A. Salsman

Recovery as Discovery 9
Paolo Scotti

Understanding Health as a Continuum 14
Leslie Greenblat

Psychiatry and Oppression: A Personal Account of Compulsory Admission and Medical Treatment 19
Benjamin Gray

Powerful Choices: Peer Support and Individualized Medication Self-Determination 25
Corinna West

Schizoaffective Disorders 38

Snapshots: The First Symptoms of Psychosis 38
Kristen B. Fowler

Why Having a Mental Illness Is Not Like Having Diabetes 43
Anonymous

2 Mood Disorders 49

Depressive Disorders 53

Depression: Disease, Loneliness, Social Isolation, Suicide, Negative Thoughts . . . 53
Bec Morrison

My Confession: My Life Had Come to a Stop 57
Leo Tolstoi

Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression 61
Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

I Wish I Had Gotten Help Sooner: My Struggle With Postpartum Depression 66
Marcie Ramirez

My Journey Through Postpartum Depression 72
Jessica Rodrigo-Dunican

Bipolar Disorders 76

Living with the Dragon: The Long Road to Self-Management of Bipolar II 76
Peter Amsel

On Madness: A Personal Account of Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder 91
Anonymous

Random Scribblings on Bipolar Disorder 97
Michael Napiorkowski

Being Bipolar: Living on Both Sides of the Coin 101
Susan Michele Vale

3 Anxiety Disorders 105

Panic Disorder 108

You Have Anxiety? 108
Kelly Orbison

Susan’s Story 115
Susan Ludeman

Phobias 122

On the Outside Looking In 122
Daniela Grazia

Mysophobia 133
Catherine Taylor

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 142

Flux 142
Frank R. DeFulgentis

Rituals, Routines, and Recovery: Living With OCD 153
Jared Douglas Kant with Martin Franklin and Linda Wasmer Andrews

“It’ll Be Okay.” How I Kept Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) From Ruining My Life 160
Shannon Shy

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 175

Emotional Triangle 175
Blazie Holling

Panic, Anxiety, PTSD, and My Experiences of Healing Through Multiple Avenues of Psychotherapy 181
Catherine McCall

The Demons of War Are Persistent: A Personal Story of Prolonged PTSD 189
Art W. Schade

4 Personality Disorders 197

My Path to Recovery 199
Melanie Green

A “Classic” Case of Borderline Personality Disorder 203
Lynn Williams

Loud in the House of Myself 207
Stacy Pershall

5 Substance-Related Disorders 215

Goodbye, Johnnie Walker 217
Neil Davidson

Untitled 228
Aaron J. French

A Nurse’s Journey Through Loss, Addiction, and Recovery 232
Michelle Walter

6 Eating Disorders 237

Dying by Inches 239
Emily Troscianko

Big Little 263
Priscilla Becker

Binging and Purging to Stay Alive 276
Anonymous

Life With an Eating Disorder 281
Laura Bette

7 Impulse Control Disorders 285

The Numbers of My Obsession 286
Mia Zamora

Memoirs of a Compulsive Firesetter 294
Sarah Wheaton

Dan’s Story 298
Anonymous

8 Delirium, Dementia, and Amnestic and Other Cognitive Disorders 303

Before It’s Too Late 306
Jane McAllister

Poor Memory: A Case Report 310
Malcolm L. Meltzer

Parkinson’s: A Patient’s View 317
Sidney Dorros

9 Somatoform Disorders 323

A Psychosomatic Study of Myself 325
F. Wertham

Bigorexia: Bodybuilding and Muscle Dysmorphia 339
Anonymous

Hypochondria 341
Heather Menzies Jones

10 Dissociative Disorders 345

Coping Strategies 348
Ruth Dee

Family Talk 358
Barbara Hope

Fractured Mind, One Heart? 361
Robert B. Oxnam

11 Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders 365

Sexual Pain Disorders 369

Vaginismus: The Blessing of Botox 369
Rachel

Paraphilias 374

The Armed Robbery Orgasm: A Lovemap Autobiography of Masochism 374
Ronald Keys and John Money

Gender Identity Disorders 377

A Rose in Bloom 377
April Rose Schneider

Time for a Good Transgender Story 388
Kam Wai Kui

12 Sleep Disorders 401

An Insomniac’s Slant on Sleep 404
Gayle Greene

My Story of Narcolepsy 414
Patricia Higgins

13 Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence 421

Pervasive Developmental Disorders 426

Communication Impairment 426
John Elder Robison

Alien: A Story of Asperger’s Syndrome 431
Stephanie Mayberry

The Experience of Infantile Autism 440
Tony W.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 444

The Only Me That We Have Ever Known 444
Katy Rollins

Tic Disorders 450

A Tourette Story 450
Rick Fowler

Searching for Answers 455
Crystal Thomas

Index 467

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CRAIG WINSTON LeCROY, PhD, is a Professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. He also holds an appointment at the University of Arizona in the John & Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Family Studies and Human Development division. He is the author of over 100 scholarly publications including ten previous books on a wide range of topics, such as mental health, the social work profession, home visitation, and research methodology.

JANE HOLSCHUH, PhD, is Professor Emerita in the Department of Social Work at Humboldt State University and currently teaches in the MSW program at Arizona State University.

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Praise for First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery

"This excellent work collects a number of reports that provide a valuable addition to our understanding of major psychiatric disorders. The experiences of the people with these problems are, after all, a key source of the data that are the core of all efforts at comprehending, treating, and carrying out research on these problems. Since much of our 'data' are in fact narratives of experiences and not just isolated pieces of criteria, this work contributes to the important foundation of all we do."
John Strauss, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

"This book is a stellar resource for educators in social work and other helping fields. While I have in the past assigned single book-length first person accounts, I will use this collection to give my students a broader understanding of the tremendous heterogeneity in the ways that different people experience and cope with mental illness."
Beth Angell, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, Rutgers University

"The authors have compiled an important collection of first-person narratives of mental illness and recovery. Every course in mental, emotional and behavioral disorders should seek to give voice to the diverse lived experiences of consumers who want so much that we listen, understand their struggles and triumphs, and truly appreciate their humanity. This book will help us do that."
Kia J. Bentley, Ph.D., Professor & Director, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work

"In their book First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery, LeCroy and Holschuh offer the student, researcher, or lay person the intimate voice of mental illness from the inside. First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery is a wonderful book, and it is an ideal, even indispensable, companion to traditional mental health texts. I am grateful that they have given the majority of this book to the voices that are too often unheard."
John S. Brekke, Ph.D., Frances Larson Professor of Social Work Research, Fellow, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, School of Social Work, University of Southern California

"This book provides a major new resource for education in the mental health professions and contains an extraordinary range of personal accounts of mental illness in one volume. These are given context and meaning though the introductions and study questions that precede each chapter."
Linda Chafetz, RN, DNSc, Professor, Department of Community Health Systems, University of California, San Francisco

"This is one of the most compelling, comprehensive, and powerful compilations of first person accounts of resiliency and recovery that I've read. It will be an excellent teaching resource for instructors and professionals. The first-hand accounts will engage students in discussions that promote a more humane understanding and less stigmatizing image of mental illness. The book should be required reading in all schools of social work with a strengths-based mental health curriculum. It is a marvelous book and a gift to the reader."
Jan S. Greenberg, Ph.D., Professor, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin- Madison

"In this volume, Craig Winston Lecroy and Jane Holschuh have assembled a collection of essays and accounts that are at once inspiring, courageous, and revealing. Reading about people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the like will allow people to see the "real" side of these disorders and even more importantly, that people with such disorders are people whose lives are not defined by their disorders."
Ann M. Kring, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

"First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery is a gift to all who truly hope to understand people who live with mental disorders. This book is an engaging, informative, and inspiring must read."
Nadine Nehls, Ph.D., RN, Professor and Associate Dean, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Nursing

"LeCroy and Holschuh have produced a stellar work that will facilitate a deeper understanding of the subjective experience of living with mental illness. This comprehensive collection manages to be scholarly, engaging, and instructive at once."
Christina E. Newhill, Ph.D., LCSW, Professor, School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh

"This is absolutely a must read for anyone who has been touched by someone with a mental illness whether it be personal or professional. It is imperative that this book be required reading in any course dealing with psychopathology and the DSM whether it be in psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing ,or counseling."
Phyllis Solomon, Ph.D., Professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice and Professor of Social Work in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania

"The authors have put together a unique and inspiring collection of personal narratives that will assist readers in learning firsthand what it is like to be viewed and related to as a person with mental illness. Reading these varied and remarkable stories will promote insight for professionals and sensitize them to how individuals with a mental disorder perceive themselves."
Leonard I. Stein, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

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