Beyond Schizophreniaby Susan Frances Dunham
What would you do if your child suffered with something so severe it affected every aspect of his life?
Susie Dunham, Midwestern mom and former nurse, never suspected her son Michael was anything but a typical college student with big dreams until he developed schizophrenia shortly after his 21st birthday. The Dunham family quickly becomes immersed in the/b>… See more details below
What would you do if your child suffered with something so severe it affected every aspect of his life?
Susie Dunham, Midwestern mom and former nurse, never suspected her son Michael was anything but a typical college student with big dreams until he developed schizophrenia shortly after his 21st birthday. The Dunham family quickly becomes immersed in the nightmare world of mental illness in America: psychiatric wards, a seemingly indifferent nursing staff, and the trial-and-error world of psychotropic meds. Michael's ultimate recovery and remission comes with plenty of traumatic incidents involving both ignorance and stigma, but his courage and quest for dignity will inspire all readers.
"Susie Dunham's heroic, heart-rending story is a beacon of light in the darkness of insanity.
It shows that recovery is hard-won but possible for people who develop schizophrenia,
despite a media that sensationalizes them, a society that shuns them, and a dysfunctional mental healthcare system that fails them miserably."
--Patrick Tracey, author of Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family's Schizophrenia
"Every person in a leadership position needs to take the time to read this moving story of triumph over adversity."
--State Representative John Adams, Ohio House Minority Whip
"The fact that Michael bravely fought this disease, picked up the pieces and moved beyond it, should give others hope that one day schizophrenia will be seen as a treatable disease with no stigma attached."
--Sharon Goldberg, News & Reviews Editor,"NYC Voices": A Journal for Mental Health Advocacy
"Beyond Schizophrenia: Michael's Journey is a book that I couldn't put down. The story of Michael's parents Susie and Mark who support their son both in good times and bad really touched me. I really like the way the symptoms of schizophrenia are explained clearly."
--Bill MacPhee, Founder/CEO of SZ Magazine
Learn more at www.SusieDunham.org
From the Reflections of America Series at Modern History Press www.ModernHistoryPress.com
PSY022050 Psychology : Psychopathology - Schizophrenia
BIO026000 Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
MED105000 Medical / Psychiatry / General
story of Michael’s parents Susie and Mark who support their son both in good times and bad really touched me. I really like the way the symptoms of schizophrenia are explained clearly."
- Loving Healing Press
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- 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.42(d)
Meet the Author
Where did you grow up?
Born in Cleveland, the “later in life,” unexpected seventh child of eight, I spent my pre-school years living above my father’s furniture store. “Joe Ralph Furniture” was a profitable but mostly a family operation, with my mother the bookkeeper and my older siblings doing the manual labor. Each summer, my mother loaded up her tribe of children to spend three glorious months in a cement block cottage on the shores of Lake Erie.
There my older siblings had jobs working for our grandmother at “Saylor’s Place”, a restaurant that specialized in smoked ribs, hosting a casual atmosphere along with white-tablecloth dining. My grandmother also owned a small marina and motel which required a teenage work force, easily fulfilled by my six older siblings. Eventually we left the big city and moved to Port Clinton, Ohio, a small community located on Lake Erie, where my father became as a manufacturer’s sales rep in the furniture. industry. I grew up in a “turn of the century” house that was spacious enough to house our large family, where faith, family unity, and a strong work ethic were the absolute rules.
Why are you uniquely qualified to write this book
In 1976, I graduated from Sandusky School of Practical Nursing and enjoyed a variety of experiences performing my own “art” in nursing. Three years in a hospital environment, five years in a nursing home setting and two in private duty nursing provided a wealth of information about the human spirit. I learned that patients are people, not diagnoses! During my brief tenure in nursing, I heard many times that the “fractured femur” in Room 108 wasn’t comfortable on his current pain medication.
Sometimes, the “congestive heart” in Room 110 needed increased diuretic because their urinary output wasn’t sufficient to match their intake of fluids. Or, it was the “old schizophrenic” in Room 102 whose blood pressure was up. In report,
none of them had names just health problems that needed to be resolved. For many years, I cared for “people” who had a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia and suffered other health problems. Somehow, in my youth, I understood the sadness of
their brain disorder. Just at the moment of final maturity, their lives had been stolen. They were left behind, not a
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I suggest you read this book. You will be impressed with how the author clearly describes each situation or symptom they are experiencing. What amazing people on an amazingly complicated journey. A very inspirational story! This book was written by Susan Frances Dunham, who was a registered nurse, and she writes about the mental illness of her son. This story is gripping and informative, she talks about the unnoticed symptoms her son had leading up to his psychotic break and the diagnosis of Schizophrenia. This story is heart wrenching for some and inspiring for all to read. The dysfunction of the mental health industry is clearly visible in their experiences with mental hospitals and nurses etc. This demonstrates that our mental health system is broken, riddled with unfeeling, cold people which is exactly what a mentally ill person does NOT need. You will see when you read this book exactly what I mean. I personally have experienced some of our unfeeling mental health system and I must say I have not found this to be much better than it was for this family. You will see this families devotion to their son and the long heart wrenching journey they have to survive. All the symptoms are so clearly explained with their experiences of seeing them and not recognizing them. I now have a new understanding of Schizophrenia and mental illness symptoms.
Susie Dunham is very brave for sharing her family's story with the world in this non-fiction book, "Beyond Schizophrenia: Michael's Journey." I found this book hard to put down once I began reading it - it was very engrossing and personal. Prior to reading this book, I did have some knowledge about Schizophrenia, which is part of the reason I chose to read the book. Reading the book did give me more information about it, but also gave me more insight into what it is lilke to have a family member who has this terrible disease. I gave this book four stars, not five, because I felt it could have been improved by sharing more about what Michael's father was feeling and going through during the journey. I found myself wondering about him while I was reading the book, and it was distracting to me. Over all, this was a very good book, which I read in one day. I felt bad for Michael and his family, and was hoping the best for them throughout the book, and even after I finished reading it. This book is appropriate for teenagers and adults, and would be a good read for anyone who works with or near those with mental illnesses. Christine Fenton
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (12/10) As long as I have been a Psychologist, I have always believed, as the author does, that we fear mental health issues because we don't understand them. In this moving book Susan Dunham talks about the journey of her wonderful and talented son through schizophrenia. What started out to be a beautiful life with a brilliant son turned into a nightmare no parent should have to endure and neither should the individual who has encountered a mental health issue. Part of our problem, as the author states, is that we have healthcare providers who are not adequately trained in mental health issues; individuals are being misdiagnosed or over medicated. Then you have the media, which tosses around psychiatric terms like they were water; no wonder the general population is so confused. Mike was a wonderful, intelligent son who showed great promise in his life. He was funny, caring and a very sensitive young man. There were two things he wanted out of life- go to college and get into modeling/acting. However, his brain had other plans for him. It started with little unusual behaviors and then, when Susan and her husband Mark went away for five days, a whole new persona took over Mike. After many trips to the hospitals and doctors, Mike was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Susan does an excellent job of describing schizophrenia through her personal experiences and much research. She and Mark were at a loss for what to do - just when things seemed to get better, another issue would pop up. Susan, a nurse, did what most parent(s) would by asking: "Why didn't I know the warning signs? How could I have stopped this? Why couldn't it be me?" The problem is you can't stop it - you can help things go smoother, but you can't stop it. Through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Susan and Mark learned so much from other parents and professionals, along with reading many books on the subject. Family and friends provided additional support- emotional and physical, even when Susan didn't want to tell anyone about Mike and what was going on. One of the things that Susan discusses is the lack of quality care in some psychiatric facilities. I see this all the time when I visit facilities - it seems as if the staff doesn't care- medicate so they don't bother you. They provide no information or support for families. However, this is not all places- we are getting better but we have a long way to go. Mike was a fighter. He didn't let go even when he wanted to end it all; it took years, it wasn't an overnight cure. Actually, there is no cure for schizophrenia. I loved the honesty in this book and the will to not give up regardless of what others said. Family members are often the only advocates for their loved one. What the author shares will say more about this illness than any textbook or class. If nothing else, readers will learn what it is truly like to live with someone who has a mental illness and have no control over anything. I applaud Susan and her husband Mark, and their son Mike, for their love, dedication and willingness to share this journey with readers. I would love to use "Beyond Schizophrenia: Michael's Journey" as required reading for my online psychology classes that I teach. It is written with love - not to make readers feel sorry for the family, but to educate. If you can read one person (and I'm sure Susan has reached more) you have done a fanta