Surrender

Living with schizophrenia has brought me to a place of submission and surrender.  At the beginning of my journey into the abyss of insanity, my freedom was taken away.  People didn’t want to take my freedom, but in an effort to save my life, I was committed to psych wards two times against my will.  As a hockey player and musician, surrender came hard for me.  In hockey I trained my body all year around trying to gain an advantage against my opponents. As soon as the hockey season was over, I trained as hard as possible.  Summer was my time to work harder than anyone else and will my way to success.  I relied on my own strength and determination to be a better hockey player and musician. A hardcore work ethic and rigorous practice plan did not help me overcome schizophrenia.  Finding a new healthy life with severe mental health issues required me to stop taking everything in my own hands. I needed Gods strength and the help of others to reach my goals. I could no longer will my way to success.

It’s nearly impossible to explain what it feels like to live in a reality that is deemed dangerous and false, for prolonged periods of time.  Being arrested by the police, and committed to a locked psych ward facility for living in a false, dangerous reality left a massive scar.  After two hospitalizations, and countless other close calls, I finally reached a breaking point seven years ago. In the deepest parts of my soul I finally accepted the permanent nature of my broken brain. I began the process of submission and surrender.

As I stopped pleasing people and started pleasing God, I began to learn the character of God. I learned to give up control. I began accepting other people’s view of reality as more trustworthy than my own. I worked on not being as defensive.  At first, I was devastated.  It’s not easy to pass the reigns of your life to other people.  Since those beginning stages of surrender, I matured and gained the keys back to my life…in some ways.  I also had life changing experiences with God.  In some ways I feel lucky for developing schizophrenia and learning to surrender.  I wouldn’t be married, or have children.  And without being forced to surrender to God and healthy people, I would’ve missed out on the spiritual revelations and experiences that berthed a constant stream of joy, peace, and stability that I now enjoy.  I can see heaven within reach.  I can see the light and freedom even now.  Schizophrenia can no longer rule my mind with cruelty, in the presence of this light. Starting the process of surrender crushed me, but I now get to look back and smile, as I enjoy my new life.  I am truly grateful to just be alive.  If you could know all that I’ve been through with severe schizophrenia, and all the horrible choices I made, you would know that it is a miracle that I am still alive.

 

 

Sports and Faith

In my final year of hockey, I played for a highly decorated coach.  He was incredibly successful at motivating 16-20 year old kids.  My coach, Don Hay, won three Memorial Cup trophies. Each year in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), teams from all across Canada battle for the highly elusive trophy.  Winning the trophy three times put Don in a special category. When I played for him, he had t-shirts made for our team as we prepared for the playoffs which read, “Whatever it takes “.  Unfortunately, at the time, my character, and my teams, was no wear near ready to succeed. Nor determined enough to climb the mountain of NHL style playoffs.  We barely survived the regular season, and by the time the playoffs began, we were limping badly, both psychologically and physically.  I was severely injured, hardly able to turn my head, or hold a tooth brush to my mouth some days from the pain in my shoulders.  Fresh surgery and more surgery on the way had my shoulders deadlocked in a painful vise.  My neck was destroyed by several servings of whiplash.  Check out a WHL hockey game sometime to see why.  There was no way I could lace up the skates.  I hated being on the sidelines, though battling Canadian tough guys didn’t sound very fun either.  I’m pretty sure Steve Yzerman would’ve attempted to play through my injuries though.  I saw him play a game with a torn ligament in his knee.  His leg was wobbling all over the place and he had to change his skating style.  It was inspiring and horrific all at the same time.  Any combat veteran could laugh at us all, as mere mortals comparatively.

So few people are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, especially in the face of intense adversity.  In hockey it meant paying a severe price to the condition of your body. Sacrificing your personal comfort is essential to success in most sports.  In hockey, winning teams literally flight their way to the top, tooth and nail. Winning teams are on the losing end of physical health.  In every day life, success usually takes the same kind of persistent passion.  The greatest missionary in the history of Christianity is a fine example of “whatever it takes “. The Apostle Paul suffered countless injuries,physical threats, and jail time for the good of The Church, the cause of Christ.  Through his physical sufferings, Paul was void of apathy and discontentment.  He expressed joy in the midst of horror consistently. To find a better state of mental health, expect hard work and suffering to begin. Sometimes change brings immediate peace, but hard work usually takes over at some point.

So what allows people to overcome incredible difficulties?  I believe people have to look deep into their souls to find their strengths and weaknesses.  Learning the art of this gift can unlock a steady stream of strength and growth.  An honest assessment of personal failures and flaws is the first step towards gaining the gift of introspection.  Learning to look inside the darkest, weakest parts of your character is an essential part of introspection.  Personal pride, and a constant state of defensive language that justifies behaviors, puts a stop to being able to improve mental health or gain insight into difficult situations.

Listening to criticism is a vital life skill that does not come easy for most people. Listening to Don Hay’s criticism was terrifying at times.  When I think back to playing hockey under him, I smile and shake my head quite often.  I have yet to meet a more passionate human being.  His reputation as a vocal dictator administering tough love is no secret to the hockey world.  I played for several “yellers” growing up in the game of hockey, but Don took the cake.  He also knew what he was talking about.  I remember limping around during one practice with an extremely sore hip pointer.  I tried to conceal it, as I knew I would have Don breathing down my neck, but on a drill it locked up pretty good.  I skated with a hitch by Don and he chased after me in a rage. He then two handed me on the hip with his stick and yelled at me to pick it up.  Surprisingly, my hip was fine the rest of the practice.  Adrenaline is amazing.  NHL players have to deal with hip pointers.  Lesson learned.  Those kind of lessons have helped me overcome schizophrenia.

Excepting wisdom from passionate, caring individuals can change your life.  If you have a mental health condition, seek good counsel and be open to change.  Beyond the humiliation and pain, lies a more positive future.  Knowing everything is boring.  Falling into the ideology that suggests people can’t change for the better is laziness.  Don Hay has sculpted an army of NHL players.  He helped sculpt me to be a resilient man, though I fell short of a sports warrior.  The Apostle Paul spread the gospel to Rome where it eventually traveled the entire world.  He suffered every inch of the way, often singing hymns of joy.  I try to follow his example more everyday.  I fail a lot too.  Don’t think I don’t know it.  Things can change for the better.  You had just better be ready to pay a price.

One day or moment in the full presence of God is enough joy for a year. Winning the Memorial Cup certainly outweighs the pain of a season of bone crunching hockey, at least that’s what players and coaches say.

Caregivers: When to push and when to show extra compassion

 

The Delicate Art of Caring: By Stephanie and Andrew Downing

Authors of Marriage and Schizophrenia: Eyes on the Prize

People have asked me so many times how and when to push someone struggling with a mental illness.  My husband has schizophrenia, and we have lived together for nearly fifteen years.  We have found success as a married couple, but the road has been filled with many communication obstacles.  My husband Andrew has found a recipe for success.  He insists that my brave words and actions gave him a chance to find recovery.  I don’t feel responsible for his recovery, but I know that my presence in his life has challenged him to be the best he knows how to be.  I have often felt guilty for making his life harder.  Being married is difficult for anyone.  Being married with the complications of mental illness makes it even more challenging.  People with a mental illness often experience a wide variety of emotional irregularities, which at times can cripple their ability to handle difficult conversations without becoming irritable or irrational.

Beyond my relationship with Andrew, I am also a mental health practitioner who serves an adult population that struggles with a wide variety of mental health issues.  Whether I’m caring for someone with schizophrenia or depression, I often walk the narrow, unforgiving line of when to push for change of thoughts or behaviors, and when to administer a large helping of mercy.  An act of mercy in this particular situation would be doing everything I can to understand why a person is acting out in a negative manner.  I always carefully consider which environmental factors have played into the adverse condition making the situation unbearable to hear anything other than an understanding voice.  I constantly challenge myself to see the big picture, and put aside my own frustrations so that I can be a person that doesn’t come across as judgmental, or abrasive.  An abrasive personality has the ability to send a person struggling with a mental illness into a psychotic episode.

Nonverbal cues offer a wealth of information.  Mental illness often triggers a multitude of visible signs.  Anxiety can cause a person’s body to twitch and tighten on an extreme level.  Unfortunately, caregivers often have to challenge suffering individuals during difficult times.  Waiting for peaceful moments, or willing ears is not always an option.  That’s where the art of confrontation and mercy merge into one cohesive act of love.  People tend to respond well to a loving presentation of information.  Yelling or speaking from a platform of pride, anger or bitterness typically results in a failure to communicate with a positive outcome.  The only way to earn a person’s trust is through a relationship.  Challenging language is rarely received if the caregiver, and the suffering individual do not have a relationship built on mutual respect and admiration. Love or concern is incomplete outside the boundaries of a solid relationship.

To be an agent of positive change, the caregiver must first develop a trustworthy relationship. Then the ability to challenge (push) can be considered.  Establishing concrete, realistic goals should be present before being an agent of change. A solid game plan needs to be formed before speaking.  Improvisational conversation is risky.  Finally, with a relationship, game plan, and loving attitude ready to implement, a caregiver can began to test the waters of a challenging conversation.  It is here that the ability to read body language comes into play.  Phone calls, text messaging, or other forms of online communication cause greater risk of misinterpretation.  Expect to make mistakes as you learn the art of being a caregiver.  Never give up, and try to remember the immense challenges that a person with a mental health condition faces each day.

With all this said, keep in mind that no one has absolute power, or control over another human beings actions.  Caregivers must let go at times to remain healthy themselves.  Too often people make choices that purposefully destroy relationships, and positive living conditions.  Try to reach a place of forgiveness instead of turning to anger or bitterness when relationships are terminated in a negative manner.  In so doing, there is a much better chance for a relationship to be restored if the suffering individual seeks reconciliation.  Holding on to bitterness, or regret can cause emotional turmoil in the life of a caregiver.

Many of the techniques and principles briefly described in this excerpt can apply to just about anyone who has an emotional tie to a person suffering with a mental illness.  Not everybody assumes the role of personal caregiver, or experiences an in depth relationship to a suffering individual.  Relationships outside the boundaries of a caregiver can still be personal enough to need a healthy set of tools ready to utilize.  Almost every person I know has a difficult relationship in their life, whether that relationship is distant or daily.  Mental health conditions have labels, but those labels are often incomplete.  Treating all people as people, instead of labels, is an excellent way to begin a healthy relationship.  In our book, you can learn how I had success, and failed at pushing Andrew to be his best through the immense challenges presented by schizophrenia.  The themes and personal stories presented offer an in depth, uncensored view of how and when to push a person struggling with mental health issues.

 

 

 

 

The Power of Choice: In the Realm of Mental Health

In our new book Marriage and Schizophrenia: Eyes on the Prize, a somewhat silent theme emerges. Wise choices can help steer those suffering with mental illness back into prolonged stability, or recovery. Common sense right?  In the experience of mental health problems, we often feel out of control, or powerless.  As if no choice we can make will propel ourselves to a better place. I have certainly lived there for prolonged periods of time.  Even amongst incredibly bad odds, and delusional thinking, every decision I make contributes to my destination.  

I have yet to meet an individual who takes as much medication as I do for mental health issues.  I know they are out there.  God help them.  I have several friends who have mental health conditions, and they all kind of shutter, or shake their heads at me when they confirm for a second time just how much I have to digest each day.  They wonder how I wake up, or get through the pain.  Do I have the power of choice in this challenging situation though?  Even when in theory I should be completely asleep at the wheel? Yes…Hold on now… I can see you cynics out there who may be laughing now, or snickering…especially if you have met me, your thinking, “Oh he’s asleep at the wheel alright!”  I had to…sorry.  It’s funny.  I love laughing at my situation. Who doesn’t like laughing?

I have a choice everyday in this sticky predicament.  I can chose to be bitter and angry about my situation.  I can chose to point the blame at other people, instead of looking within for ways to improve my situation.  Choosing to stay close to God has helped in ways that go beyond words.  Choosing to be sober has helped.  Choosing to stick to the meds everyday has helped.  Choosing to keep my nose to the grindstone everyday so I can be available to my wife and kids has helped.  Choosing to drink enough water, and eat good foods has helped.  Choosing to love people has helped.  Choosing to communicate with people has helped, even when some days there hasn’t been much for me to speak, as I am severely fatigued by the meds, or experiencing the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. My delusions are so severe that they will forever sit on the sidelines, just waiting for me to make a string of bad choices.  For me, those choices are very different than the average persons choices, and they are hard to figure out.  Thank God I figured them out.  My family is grateful too.  The choices are often unconventional, though they typically utilize common sense or basic wisdom.

Here is a glimpse into the strange situation with my medication.  I have tried many times to be free of my medications, and I have paid steep penalties for doing so.  They felt like good choices at first.

My retired doctor told me that I would always have to be on a significant level of medication, or else I would need to be committed to a long term psych ward to attempt life on a significantly lower dose, under twenty four hour surveillance.  Probably a year or more in a comprehensive psychiatric facility.  My body is terribly addicted to the psychiatric drugs, and my mind lives under constant threat of delusional realities without it. If I choose the easy road for a few days, zero medications, my body pretty much shuts down, and I’m severely delusional,  hallucinating, and hearing voices constantly.  I will also be surrounded by a wall of strange paranoia and or pristine beauty to the point of weeping.  That’s why I choose to take all the meds.  I’m supposedly taking a dose of medication that is within the therapeutic realm. I’m on the high end of the therapeutic realm, whatever that is.  Sorry, it just doesn’t feel therapeutic in any way. There is no pill I can take to give me the strength, courage, and peace that I need everyday to stick to the difficult road of success.

 At the end of the day you cannot cure the human condition that seems to be perpetually hurling itself towards bad choices with a pill.  There is no little pill to cure pride.  Pride comes before a fall.  Envy…ooooh.  Yep, that’s a sneaky one.  Greed. Selfishness. Anger. Hate. Unforgiveness.  The quiet ones are the hardest.  

Its hard to love a villain.  Its hard to forgive a villain.  Choosing to forgive is crazy powerful.  Learning to truly forgive people shows that we believe that all humans are interrelated, and worthwhile, regardless of the evil controling their choices.  True forgiveness allows us to see why people do what they do.  You can began to see what past hurt and trauma (stress) helped contribute to the dysfunction.  I’ve found that forgiveness is way more powerful than Seroquel, even unimaginable doses of anti-psychotics.  Its powerful enough to overpower all kinds of sicknesses. The one I’m working on right now is worry.  I have to work on forgiveness everyday, so I guess I should note that one as a constant work in progress.  I’m a person living with schizophrenia, so worry tends to do well with my imagination.  I will say I have been delivered from constant worrying by having a clear picture of where I’m going after death.  With this growing faith I am more relaxed on the subject of death in general. I have also tapped into a source of strength and peace realizing that I’m not in control of justice.  God has all the tough situations figured out, so I don’t have to figure them all out.  That helps me worry less.

There are physical choices like taking medications, or taking care of your body, not stealing a car, and there are quiet choices that speak to the soul.  The quiet choices pretend not to have consequences for ignoring them.   I have found that humility, forgiveness, and unselfish behavior can overpower all sorts of problems. If you have mental health issues, or have a loved one who does, look into those quiet things to find some pretty powerful remedies.  If you have a loved one who is supposed to take medications, but they don’t, please try to understand why.  The medications are extremely difficult to take everyday, and even harder to take year after year.  Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this at all, or found it potentially helpful within the realm of mental health, I believe you would appreciate my new book.  It’s available on Amazon as cheap as 7$ for the kindle version.

Mental Illness and Isolation

When I first realized that I had schizophrenia, I soon entered a reality that was more destructive than the illness itself.  I chose isolation and literally forgot the art of conversation. For a few months, I struggled to speak, or think of anything to say.  I was so sick after being discharged from my first stay in a locked psyche ward facility, that I didn’t even realize I was mentally ill.  I thought the pills I was taking were anti drinking pills.  I had no concept of schizophrenia or mental illness in general.  This period only lasted a few weeks, maybe longer.  I lived in a primarily delusional state of mind around the clock.  I had a lot of energy, and my words were often too confusing to understand what I was talking about.  As the medications began to work, my mind and body began to slow down dramatically.  At that point the sobering reality of the situation came crashing in like a ton of bricks. My first response was withdrawal from society.  I put on a lot of weight, and was unable to sit in a chair.  I paced the hallways of my parents house desperately waiting to have another cigarette. My main enjoyment in life was smoking.  I was absolutely terrified of facing the real world.  I had no sense of self.  No identity. No purpose.  I sought to isolate myself from the rest of the world as much as possible. These were the worst times of my life.

At some point I decided I could no longer bare to live life while taking the full dose of my prescribed medicine.  I recognized how it was responsible for so many of my new found troubles with social interaction.  I didn’t want to live in isolation anymore.  I wanted to be able to socialize the way I once had.  I wanted to love again.  I’ll never take the ability to speak for granted again.  Being spontaneous in conversation and laughing is so awesome.  It is vital for positive mental health.  Living in isolation kills our ability to tap into these essential life lines.  Being interconnected to people defines humanity.  We were not made to be alone.

After discontinuing most of my medications, I was able to reenter society easier.  The art of conversation returned and I found interaction with people to be fun again. Unfortunately, the lack of medications caught up with me and I returned to a dangerous state of mind, nearly needing to be institutionalized.  Since those early days of my battle with schizophrenia, I have been through many changes, but I have fought relentlessly to never totally lose the ability to interact with people.  I never wanted to go back to the intense fear of being around people unable to talk, or understand who, or what I was.  I gained a perspective of severe anxiety and depression in my early days with schizophrenia.  I think I’m pretty certain that I would prefer having schizophrenia over severe anxiety or depression.  An anxious, depressed mind makes being with other people really difficult to say the least.  Everything in life often feels terrible.  So few can handle that for long duration’s without significant improvements.

Seeking isolation has never been easier with the new dynamics of technology.  I fear our current path of communication within our society is driving people to miss fully connecting to people. Text messaging and other forms of internet communication do not fully engage our need to interact with people. Eye contact and body language add so much to a conversation and often bring out the best or worst in us.  Without it, we lose the intimacy of face to face communication.  We lose precious social skills that help us overcome our fears and anxious thoughts.  Technology mutes social interaction, making online or texting conversation easy to say whatever we want.  It’s easy to become a person that is very far from true self.  Sometimes it works out for the best too.  Its not all bad.  There are certain parts about texting and online communication that I love, and find to be a true enrichment to society.  But what happens if people can’t socially interact out in the real world?  How will people get a job and hold it?  How will people physically comfort or challenge one another successfully?

I think depression and anxiety is on the rise as we continue to undervalue face to face communication.  We are slowly losing our social skills, patience and ability to think. With a smart phone you never have to be bored or think.  People can endlessly study and work, digesting massive quantities of information, but miss the blessing of learning how to be content.  Wisdom often reveals itself in the presence of no distractions.  In times of boredom we are forced to deal with the stream of our consciousness, for better or worse.  It can be a time when we understand the mistakes and victories we have lived through.  More and more studies reveal that too much screen time and social media addictions cause depression.  Not might cause depression or contribute to it, but literally cause it.  There are studies revealing that while we are staring at our screens endlessly, our children are wondering if they are loved or cared for.  I fear where all this going, and plan to make some adjustments in my own life.  I use my phone to read, and write a lot. It is my workstation.  Technology addiction is a real problem, and we don’t know how to combat it yet.  Please join me, and don’t forget to interact with each other eye to eye.  Its terrifying to lose that skill, or dread it so bad you never come out of your house.  I hope we can all invest in heartfelt, authentic relationships.  These relationships give us the happiness we all desperately desire.

Common Sense Goes a Long Way

I don’t consider myself a mental health specialist or an expert.  However, my wife is a mental health practitioner with a degree in psychology.  She has worked with a variety of different people groups in her professional life, offering a wide variety of mental health services.  Perhaps her greatest experience in the mental health field has come by being married to me.  She has lived up close and personal with schizophrenia for fifteen years.  With her guidance and wisdom, I have come to better understand a variety of mental health issues.  One thing that keeps coming to light, as we continue to advocate for improved mental health, is the feedback that people without a mental health diagnosis relate to our story.  Many people have shared with us that they have applied our insight on mental health issues to their own lives, or at least connected with our success techniques. The main point is this:  Common sense goes a long way, for us all. My wife has a lot of it, and knows how to apply it too.  I’m still learning.

I’m an addict.  I have been nearly my whole life.  As long as I can remember I have always been drawn to risky behavior.  As a young grade-schooler I got addicted to extreme candy.  Seriously?  I hate to admit this, but it’s true.  My parents busted me buying large quantities of “warheads” and other extreme sour candy.  I probably stole the money from my dads wallet.  I had a habit of doing that.  Small amounts at a time.  I was obsessed with “Jolt” pop as well.  Unreal sugar high on that stuff.  I started hiding the candy wrappers and pop bottles under leaves and my outdoor hockey net goalposts.  I was listening to some pretty good lies in my head at the time that justified my actions. Such an immature, foolish place to hide anything.  In my panic to ditch the evidence, I put it all where my parents could easily find it, instead of just throwing it away in a garbage somewhere else.  When we do things we shouldn’t, we usually know it.  We often panic and our lives reveal that panic.

Unfortunately for me, addiction has been an issue my whole life.  I don’t blame my addictions on my mental health problems.  My addictions got worse when schizophrenia set in, but I was already an addict before mental health became a problem.  Common sense has helped me through so many tough situations.  Here is a great example of how we forget to use our common sense sometimes.  I have witnessed so many debates on the merits and risks of alcohol.  We often make alcohol a deep spiritual conversation.  “Jesus drank wine.  Can’t be all that bad.  He even turned the water to wine.”  Then the opposing point of view may argue, “Well, we don’t even know if the water he turned to wine was fermented.  People used to drink wine because clean drinking water was scarce.”  I could go on and on with all the rhetoric around alcohol. Common sense tells us why alcohol can be bad when not enjoyed in moderation.  Alcohol makes you sick.  Its poisonous by nature.  If you drink too much, you will get sick.  As you grow older, your organs cannot handle the poison as well.  Solution?  Don’t drink too much.  Can’t do that?  Quit drinking.  The Bible does talk about alcohol.  Jesus warns us that being a person that is drunk all the time is bad news.  He doesn’t want us to get sick! Both physically and spiritually.  When your body starts falling apart, your character can fall apart too.  No sense making it harder by drinking too much.

I’m not here to bash on alcohol.  Really, I’m not.  I learned something from this issue that has helped me in a number of ways.  If I’m doing something I know is wrong, I should probably stop doing it, instead of making weird excuses.  I knew that I had to stop studying jazz music to improve my mental health.  I also knew I had to avoid high stress work. Performing too many concerts was stressful!  I fought those quiet voices of wisdom in my mind for years, by telling myself weird lies.  I finally listened to that simple wisdom (common sense) and my life got way better!  There are so many common sense guidelines to improve your mental health.  Walk for exercise.  Drink enough water. Eat some fruit and vegetables.  Be genuinely nice to people.  The list goes on.  If mental health or life is out of balance, consider using some common sense.

 

 

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of a Grandiose Schizophrenic

The vehicle cruised down the predictable, sleepy small town roads.  Industry was apparent from all points of view.  Music filled the smooth driving, modern family transporter.  Engineered to near perfection, the surreal sounding stereo took me to another place.  At only thirty miles an hour, I was momentarily free.  Free from the dull, painful, mindless routine of life.  Some call it joy.  It certainly was joyful but there was a unique factor.  I forgot to take a small pill twenty four hours ago.  A pill to punish my schizophrenic mind and body, eventually soul.

Man the song on the stereo was good.  I even tried singing along, bad idea.  I stopped ruining the song and calmly came to the stop light.  My eyes drifted from the road to a bright, halogen light inviting customers to take a closer look.  My joy turned from incredible, to majestic.  The light suddenly overtook my entire focus.  Lost for a moment in another world so beautiful, I could cry.  The light blossomed, shooting beams everywhere.  The song continued to pull my strings.  I blinked enough times to finally realize that I was probably too low on my meds.  Ah, I forgot that one pill yesterday.  Oh well.  I will take it tonight, no harm done.  Plus, I still took the four, horse tranquilizers yesterday.

The light turned green, the store light resumed its natural focus, and I continued to drive to church.  The kids will be waiting for me.  The song was still awesome but in an instant I felt a deep sorrow.  My poor wife.  If she could only see me with this kind of energy everyday.  Normal, non-limb numbing energy.  I shrugged it off.  I can do better tomorrow.  I will fight through all those pills.  God will throw me a hailmary pass.  I’ll catch it and life will be good.

Life is good.  Just a little strange…who knew!  Right?  I feel so lucky to have so many loving family members and friends.  A great community…a bit too small for my social comfort.  Hey thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed this at all.  Check out my new book

Marriage and Schizophrenia: Eyes on the Prize    On Amazon

Please write a review of the book if you read it and you have an Amazon account.  Even if you hate it.  My publisher says it’s good.

Check back for writings on a variety of subjects.  Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

First blog post

imageTonight is my first entry on this site.  My name is Andrew Downing.  My wife and I recently published a book with Westbow Press on our life together.  We have been married for thirteen years.  We have two children and fifteen years together dealing with schizophrenia and other mental health issues.  Of course our life doesn’t just revolve around one topic.  We do however have a wealth of experience to share with those struggling with mental illness.  I have lived with schizophrenia for nearly twenty years.  Relationships can be difficult when you have schizophrenia, or know someone who has it.  I hope our book can help you find healing and hope.  Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions concerns or any thoughts in general.  Our book is titled Marriage and Schizophrenia: Eyes on the Prize.  It’s for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  I have been involved with creative arts and writing my entire life.  I started playing the drums at age two.  From there my journey as a creative soul began.  I’m currently finishing a novel and hope to have it available soon.  My passion for writing has taken over my creative life but I still compose music and teach twenty music lessons a week.  I teach drums, piano and guitar. I hope to offer tangible help to people struggling with mental health issues.  Thanks for reading and following my written work!