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Thanks for checking out my website. I'm Mike and I have schizoaffective disorder. I've been in total control of my illness and have been stable for nearly seven years now. There's been so many times where I thought I was fully recovered, yet when I look back at myself over the years, I've realized how I've been steadily improving as a person and learning how to keep my illness in check more and more as time goes by.

Currently, I'm a leader of a support group for mental illness (The Care Connection). The group has had over 300 registered members over the years. I've come across a wide variety of people with mental illnesses and know the intimate details of hundreds of people's experiences with mental illness--people with an illness or people who are close to someone who has a mental illness. I've watched people come to group extremely depressed and hopeless and have seen them change as weeks go by and get to the point where they're making jokes and offering support to others. Watching people overcome their illness--and being told how much of a part I played in their recovery--has been the most rewarding thing I've ever had in my life. I want to share what I've said and learned on this website, because I've seen what helps people with a mental illness and I've seen what doesn't. But make no mistake--I do not have all the answers nor do I believe I have all the answers. This site isn't about me, but I'll go into my story a little bit right now.

My illness started showing up when I was about 20, and I'm 27 today. I went crazy when I was living in my fraternity house at USC and had to be pulled out of school in the middle of my last semester there. The thing was, everyone (including myself) who knew what happened thought everything that happened was the result of substance abuse. I was a raging alcoholic (and would pour three to five shots of Jack Daniels in my coffee mug before classes), I smoked a ton of pot and I abused my Ritalin by crushing it up and snorting it.

I moved back to Wisconsin to live with my parents for a little bit. My substance abuse problems dramatically decreased, I moved into my own apartment and went back to college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a creative writing major. The thing was, all the irrational and delusional thoughts I had at USC never stopped popping up in my head--I was hiding it and kept it to myself for delusional reasons.

But eventually I couldn't hide what was happening to my increasingly irrational mind and dropped out of school a month before the semester ended. I was totally consumed by my illness during that month and nearly died (although I've never attempted or even considered suicide) but, eventually, it all caught up with me and I ended up in Milwaukee County Psych Ward--a scary place.

After being released from the hospital, I went through a period of total depression. I took a semester off from school and then went back. I slowly improved as time went on and ended up graduating after 7 years in college.

I thought I was totally recovered when I graduated, and I kind of was, but I had no idea how much better I could get. I began writing a memoir about the year of my life where I was totally insane and it's narrated in the voice of my delusional self. There's a lot of humor in the book because it's narrated in the voice of my delusional self. It's the whole 'it's funny cause it's true' kind of thing. It's also got a humorous slant because I'm at the point where I can laugh at the person I was when I was out of my mind crazy. I think everyone should aspire to look back on their experiences with mental illness and laugh about them, but getting to that point isn't easy.

When I started writing my book, I started going back to the support group for mental illness that played a major role in my recovery (The Care Connection). I thought I was as good as I'd ever get at that point in my life, but I was wrong. That was about three years ago. About two years ago, I was asked to become the leader of the support group. I'd been stable for so long, had a serious illness that never really goes away and I'd only been going to group to offer support to others, so people asked me to start being the leader.

I started going back to that support group to keep me inspired as I was writing my book. I also went back to offer support to others, and that actually ended up improving me even more than when I went to group because I needed the support. Offering support to others has given me the kind of self-esteem and confidence that I thought I'd lost forever.

All week long, I get emails, texts and phone calls from people--at all hours. Over time, I found myself saying a lot of the same things in those emails, texts and phone calls. That's when I first started toying with the idea of creating a blog about mental illness recovery.

I had to put this website on the back burner two years ago because I realized I'd never finish my book unless I worked on it eight hours a day, every day. I'm nearly done with the book and I've been getting feedback and revising it for months now. The thing about the book is that it doesn't really go into the whole recovery process I went through--it would make for boring reading. I initially intended on writing an epilogue about my recovery, but I realized that an epilogue would make the process of recovery oversimplified, and there's nothing simple about it.

So that's when I decided to create a blog, but one thing led to another and I ended up coming up with this website. My blogs on this website are--by far--the least important things about this website. I write the blogs off the top of my head whenever a topic pops into my head. But this site is mainly intended to be a community of people who share their stories and the life lessons they've learned throughout their experience with mental illness.

That's enough about me for now, so (if you haven't already) Take a few minutes and read the 'Mission' of this website to see what this site is really all about.

 



 
  • !!! USER ACCOUNTS !!!

    • CREATE ACCOUNT TO POST ON THE SITE: I really hope everyone who visits this site creates a user account--this feature is more important than you might realize, and I will go into why its important below. A user account is required to make posts on most of the pages on this site. ALL FIELDS IN THE CREATE ACCOUNT FORM ARE OPTIONAL (except or email address)

    • LINKS TO PROFILES: I require an account to post because someone who may not post still might read things on the site and notice that a specific user says a lot of things that really apply to their own situation. Whenever someone makes a post, anyone can click their username to read their profile and discover that they have a lot in common.

    • USER-2-USER: The term 'pen pal' sounds lame, but that's essentially what U2U is. As I just said above, someone may read another's profile and posts, and see that they have been in very similar situations. When you create an account, there is an option for whether or not you are interested in participating in the U2U feature. Having an ongoing back-and-forth with someone can be really helpful in the recovery process.

    • PRIVATE MESSAGES: When you click a user's name and are taken to that user's profile, click the "Send Message" link at the top of the profile. You will be taken to a form which you can fill out to send that user a private message. The idea behind it is to allow you to discuss something that the user may have posted on another part of the site in greater detail... or to understand what they posted more clearly... or maybe a struggling user posts something about what they are having trouble living with and you feel compelled to send them a message to offer your advice in a more personal way--that's exactly the kind of situation I created this site for--and believe me, taking the initiative to offer advice privately is extremely rewarding.

    • FOLLOW USER: If you notice that another user keeps making posts that really apply to your situation, you can click their username, be taken to their profile, and then click the "FOLLOW USER" button. After you have done that, you can go to your own profile (or click the "Posts by Followed Users" link in the side bar after you have logged in) and be taken to a page where you will see links for every post that the users you follow have made. When a followed user makes new posts, your followed users page automatically updates.

    • USER BLOGS: Once you create an account, you can go to your profile (by clicking the "Go to my Profile" link in the side bar after you have logged in) and click the ">>>Start a Blog" link. You will be taken to a form where you can come up with a Name for your blog, post the title for your first blog and post your first blog itself. (as an analogy, the 'Name' of the blog would be "Star Wars" while the 'Title' of a given blog would be "The Empire Strikes Back" -- yep, I'm a geek at heart).

    • READ USERS BLOG: When you click a username and are taken to that user's profile, if that user has created a blog, there will be a "Read [user]'s Blog" link. When you click it, you will be taken to their most recent blog. If you want to read their older blogs, click the "Previous Blogs" link. Just like my blogs, all registered users can post comments in response to a user's blog.


  • BLOG ARCHIVE: I will post at least three blogs a week--a featured blog, metaphor blog and quote blog. Click the 'BLOG ARCHIVE' link (in the sidebar) to be taken to a page where I explain each category of blog in greater detail. Click "Go to [category of blog] Archives" to be taken to a page that lists all the blogs I have posted. The BLOG ARCHIVE page also includes the links to all USER BLOGS that have been posted as well.

  • YOUR COMMENTS: The least important part of the site is my blogs. They'll probably be hit or miss as far as a given user is concerned... you might disagree with what I write, and that's fine--I encourage it, actually. That's why I have included the comments feature for all of my blogs and all of the user blogs. The comments feature was created so someone can correct me, provide a different perspective on the topic of the blog, or bring up certain things I may have overlooked while I was writing a certain blog. My blogs aren't gospel. I want them to spark conversation more than anything.... I could make a legitimate argument that the comments feature that goes along with the blogs is more important than my blogs themselves. To read and post comments, navigate to a blog and click the "Comments" link to be taken to a page containing the blog and the comments related to it, and then click "Post Comment" to be taken to the form you fill out to post a comment.

  • DISCUSSIONS: Basically, a series of message boards. The is different than all the other pages of the site where you can contribute your thoughts. That's because, on the discussion boards, users choose their own topics and the conversations that come from those topics are all in one place and can be read long after the discussion ends.

  • RANTS DISCUSSION BOARD: I created the 'Rants' message board as a way for users to get all their troubling thoughts off of their chests--when trying to recover from Mental Illness, or even while you're in the thick of it, there is the natural tendency to bottle up a lot of emotions. At some point, you can't contain your troubling thoughts that have been piling up in your mind anymore. A lot of the time, there isn't someone who you can talk to and let out all the thoughts you've been keeping in. Or maybe there are people in your life that are making things even worse for you but for some reason or another, you can't tell them exactly how much more difficult they are making your life for fear of getting too angry. The RANTS board is a place where you can let it all out--and I have decided that no user account is necessary to make a post on the RANTS board... just say everything you can't say in your real life. Other users can reply to your rant and maybe someone will be able to help you through it. (to post a reply to a RANT, you must have a user account).

  • FAMILY PAGE: This is a page where family members (or friends) can offer their advice on how they have dealt with someone close to them who has mental illness. This is different than the FAMILY Discussion board, because the FAMILY PAGE is made up of pieces advice with minimal back-and-forth between users whereas the Family Discussion Board is intended for ongoing conversations. Basically, the FAMILY PAGE is made up of words of advice, whereas the Family Discussion board is made up of topics that a user who is close to someone with Mental Illness can ask for advice and be more specific about their situation.

  • NEWSLETTERS: Read the page where I discuss the value of Newsletters and why they are under-rated. Please post any newsletters or magazines that you subscribe to, a description of it (optional), and provide information on how someone can subscribe to the newsletter or magazine.

  • HOSTED NEWSLETTERS: This is a feature of the site where you can create your own Newsletter. Several people can contribute to the same newsletter. All you need to do is fill out a simple form and the site puts it all together for you in a Newsletter Format--the created Newsletter looks like a stand alone page--the side bar, top logo and the whole design of mymindsnotright.com is not shown in a created Newsletter. Additionally, a page is automatically generated that lists links to all of the old issues of your newsletter, so people can 'catch up.' (You can find the hosted newsletter page by going to the newsletter page. Click "read more" to be taken to the page that explains what a Hosted Newsletter is in more detail. Click "view example" at the top of that page to see what a created newsletter looks like).

  • FEEDBACK ON SUPPORT GROUPS: If you go to the support group page (by clicking the 'support group' link on the sidebar), there is a 'survey' you can fill out (no user account required) where you can share your thoughts on the idea of support groups--whether or not you have ever been to one. Their is a page for all of the feedback for each question, so people who are part of a support group, people who lead a support group, or people who are starting a support group can read about how to make their support group better. (Click the Support Group link on the side bar to be taken to this page).

  • SUPPORT GROUP DATABASE: NAMI has a huge database of support groups around the country. That's great, but I have heard more than a few bad things about NAMI support groups (although, I have no doubt there are plenty of great ones) but I decided to create a database here anyways. I made that decision because both the leader of my support group and myself have a very different kind of philosophy about what makes a support group successful than NAMI does. Even if you've already listed your group on NAMI, list it here as well. That's because, if you add your support group to this site's database, it implies that you have read some of my blogs about support groups and/or have read the feedback about support groups on this page. (Click the Support Group link on the side bar--you do need a user account to list your support group)

  • DOCTOR'S WORDS: This will be a series of question and answer interviews with doctors. You can type in a question that I will ask the next doctor I interview. (no user account is necessary to submit a question to be asked).

  • TESTIMONIALS: This is where you can type your story about your experience with Mental Illness. (click "Testimonials" on the side bar)

  • LITTLE VICTORIES: One of the things that leads to a successful recovery is the ability to notice the little things in your day-to-day life that make you feel good about yourself. These can often be tiny and seemingly insignificant, but as you train yourself to see enough of them, they add up and can make a huge difference in your happiness and the way you see the world and the people you know in it. Post the little victories you have noticed in your life so those who are not at the stage where they can recognize the 'little victories' themselves can get some ideas about what they should be looking for (no user account necessary to post a little victory. Click the 'little victories' link in the sidebar)

  • SEVEN THINGS I'VE LEARNED: Why seven? No reason, really--except for the fact that when you need to come up with a certain number of things you've learned, you might have to force yourself to think a little deeper in order to discover more things you've learned... things you might not have thought about if it was "Three things I've learned" instead of seven. You'd be surprised how much wisdom people have in them without knowing it. (Click the 'Seven Things I've Learned' in the sidebar)

  • LYRICS / MUSIC / POETRY: This is where you can post some songs or poems that have helped you or someone close to you deal with Mental Illness. Post the lyrics / music / poetry and write your thoughts on the reasons why a song or poem helped you.

    ALSO: When filling out the form to post lyrics or poems, there is a drop-down menu with the options: "Song," "Poem," "My Song," "My Poem." So, obviously, if you write songs or poems, you should definitely post them on the page. (Click 'Lyrics / Music / Poetry' on the side bar, then click the "Add Poem, Lyrics or Songs" link to be taken to the form where you can add songs/poems).

  • BOOKS: Post your reviews of books you have read about Mental Illness--all kinds of books (self help, memoir, informational etc). There are tons of books out there about Mental Illness, and we can't buy them all, we don't have the time to read them all, and we certainly don't want to pay for a book only to get nothing out of it. Post reviews of the books that you have responded to... also, its just as helpful to post reviews of books you hated and thought were a waste of time--save others some disappointment and money. (click the "Books" link in the sidebar, then click "Post Book Review" to be taken to the book review form).

  • WHEN DID YOU KNOW: A lot of people aren't sure whether or not they have a Mental Illness. Post your story of when and how you realized that, 'yes, I do have Mental Illness.' This is a more important part of the site than you may realize: too many people realize they have Mental Illness only after something goes seriously wrong. Hopefully your contribution will convince someone to seek help before its too late and they find out the hard way.

  • CHATROOM: Self explanatory, except for one feature: You can set up a certain time and topic for users to meet in the chatroom and have an online support group of sorts.

  • BECOME AN ADMIN / FEATURED CONTRIBUTOR: At the very bottom of the home page, there is a link you can click where I explain how you can become a blogger whose blogs show on the front page sharing the same space that my blogs are currently shown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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