“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it and really want to show it…” Remember that childhood song? Know how many people, young and old and all the ages in-between, are not happy, they do not want to show their mental illness and they suffer alone rubbing their teary eyes instead of clapping with joy. How to help yourself or others who are struggling with a mental illness? Reach for the book, Defying Mental Illness: Finding Recovery with Community Resources and Family Support by Paul Komarek and Andrea Schroer. This review is of based on their first edition ofn 2010. I will write another post about their second 2013 edition.
Defying Mental Illness is a guide book to recovery from mental illness. It is simply written for all families, friends or the individuals themselves who are looking for advice about the steps to take when mental illness is taking all they have… zest for life, relationships, friendships, career, and a happy childhood and school years.
In their Introduction, the authors gain your trust because they show they are aware of the struggles caused by mental illness, “No one should minimize the challenges of mental illness. Like many other severe and chronic disorders, mental illness devastates people with symptoms, and blasts family, friends and co-workers too… The world as you have known it will never be the same. Mental illness means a struggle.”
Also their comforting words give you hope, “But there is a real basis for hope. People can and do recover, symptoms can be reduced or completely eliminated…Always hope for healing. The medications do work and new ones are being developed all the time.” How can one recover from the grips of a mental illness?
Create a Path to Recovery from Mental Illness
The authors tell us, “Expect to recover one day at a time”. You will learn you are not alone feeling guilt, anger, fear, denial, grief and uncertainty as to what to do. They start by giving the reader four questions to start their road to recovery:
- What helps you make the most of your talents?
- How can you reduce the areas where you are vulnerable?
- How can you improve your ability to cope with stress?
- How can you deal with the risk of something going wrong?
Families and friends have a role in the recovery process and this book has essential information to help people with symptoms and family members collaborate and support each other.
Defying Mental Illness lists the typical symptoms by using the following sub-headings: the changes in thinking, changes in mood, changes in behavior and the physical changes.
They touch on the treatment for co-occurring disorders emphasizing the importance of integrated care where everyone works together on a unified treatment plan. The book discusses medications and/or psychotherapy. The section on medications lists them in various categories explaining the benefits and side effects of each.
The chapter entitled Crisis, Violence, Suicide points out the importance of having a psychiatric emergency contingency plan and alerts you to the warning signs of a mental health crisis.
Features of the Book
The book covers major mental health disorders and treatment. The authors deal with this topic with respect for the individuals in question. They give advice on confronting the challenges of the stigma surrounding mental illness which taunts and taints most connected with it.
Unfortunately there in no index. However the detailed Table of Contents helps locate information making this a book you can refer to often.
The book is easy to understand and complete. Therefore it is suitable for people in recovery, caregivers, faith-based, church and community outreach workers who work in mental health. Readers will appreciate the chapters on finding treatment, paying for mental health care, housing, employment and disability, involuntary hospitalization, the criminal justice system, and links to allies and advocacy groups.
The case studies describing a few journeys towards recovery bring hope to the readers.
Besides a complete chapter on Facts About Mental Illness, statistics are also quoted throughout the book bringing home the point how serious this topic is and what is being done and still needs to change to help those who struggle. Here are some:
- Mental illness is at the root of 90 percent of the nearly 35,000 suicides every year in the United States.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24.
- One is ten Americans experience a mental disorder serious enough to affect work, school or family life every year.
- Depression is a very common illness, affecting as many as twenty percent of the women and ten percent of the men at least once in their lifetimes.
Most will find sections that refer to their particular disorder. Some that the book covers are: schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and childhood and adolescent mental illness.
Congratulations to the authors for writing this much needed book!
Much of the content is excellent for readers in any country; however most of the sections dealing with the education system, health care system, housing assistance programs, disability benefits, guardianship, etc. only apply to the United States and only to that country for a few years after the book was written. Each country and even different states of the US have different regulations, support and services that change often. However it makes a reader aware of what is availble in the US and one can check if the same is available in ones country or in the US a few years after the publication date. That being said, I still highly recommend Defying Mental Illness: Finding Recovery with Community Resources and Family Support by Paul Komarek and Andrea Schroer.
Defying Mental Illness Facebook page.
About the Authors
Paul Komarek is an author and consultant who helps faith-based and community organizations, small businesses and government agencies create sustainable programs that transform people’s lives. He is an adjunct faculty member at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
Mr. Komarek is a graduate of American University’s School of International Service and Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law.
He has worked for the Social Security Administration, Catholic Social Services and the Urban League, and as Executive Director of Recovery Resource Center, a substance abuse treatment program. He helped start Cincinnati’s Caregiver Assistance Network, and has trained court officials, police officers and jail personnel.
Mr. Komarek served on the Hamilton County SAMI Initiative, a multisystem effort to develop an integrated system of treatment for people with co-occurring mental illness and addiction disorders. In 2010-2011 he led a public-private planning initiative aimed at creating a system of volunteer-delivered mediation and restorative justice programs to divert misdemeanor cases from court. He serves on the Board of Directors of West End Health Center and Winton Hills Opportunity Connection.
Where to find Paul Komarek online:
Twitter @ pkomarek
Andrea Schroer is a teacher and an Educational Consultant for APS Consulting who assists schools, non-profit organizations, and businesses in reaching self-sufficiency through recommendations and training in the areas of tutoring, after-school programming, and child care licensure. Learn more at www.supporttheireducation.com.
Defying Mental Illness 2013 Edition – Kindle Version on Amazon
Defying Mental Illness 2013 edition – All ebook formats on Smashwords – includes Nook, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and PDF versions.