Fix What You Can: Schizophrenia and a Lawmaker's Fight for Her Son

Fix What You Can: Schizophrenia and a Lawmaker's Fight for Her Son

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Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
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One mother's fight to support her son and change a broken system

In his early twenties, Mindy Greiling's son, Jim, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after experiencing delusions that demanded he kill his mother. At the time, and for more than a decade after, Greiling was a Minnesota state legislator who struggled, along with her husband, to navigate and improve the state's inadequate mental health system. Fix What You Can is an illuminating and frank account of caring for a person with a mental illness, told by a parent and advocate.

Greiling describes challenges shared by many families, ranging from the practical (medication compliance, housing, employment) to the heartbreaking--suicide attempts, victimization, and illicit drug use. Greiling confronts the reality that some people with serious mental illness may be dangerous and reminds us that medication works--if taken.

The book chronicles her efforts to pass legislation to address problems in the mental health system, including obstacles to parental access to information and insufficient funding for care and research. It also recounts Greiling's painful memories of her grandmother, who was confined in an institution for twenty-three years--recollections that strengthen her determination that Jim's treatment be more humane. Written with her son's cooperation, Fix What You Can offers hard-won perspective, practical advice, and useful resources through a brave and personal story that takes the long view of what success means when coping with mental illness.