Mental Health Blogs

About Randye Kaye, Author of Mental Illness in the Family Blog

Ten years ago, if you’d asked me where I thought I might be in 2011, the last thing I’d have said is “I plan to be a writer.” Yet, here I am: blogging for HealthyPlace.com, and about to be a published author. When I go to Amazon.com and search for my book (which, I must admit, I do at least 5 times a week, just to make sure it’s not a dream), I’m still amazed to find myself with an “author’s page” and a biography on Wikipedia.

Oh, I’d hoped to be a “wiki girl”, but I’d thought it might be because of my work as an actress, radio personality, voice talent or singer. Life is funny that way. You make your plans, and sometimes you follow them. Sometimes, too, the universe sends you elsewhere, like a stream cutting through the forest. It goes where it needs to go.

My son, called “Ben” in my book, began to show really odd behaviors in his mid-to-late-teens which we later learned were fairly typical signs of gradual-onset paranoid schizophrenia. Who knew? Certainly not us. Definitely not any of the psychologists, psychiatrists, or teachers who offered their opinions. It only became clear later on, in hindsight, and as a result of the education we finally began to seek. During this time, I was a top-rated morning radio personality in Connecticut, doing my best to find the humor in Ben’s antics, to portray him as a “teenager who should have been a hippie during the 60′s.”

Between the radio show, voiceovers and stage performances, my job was to make people laugh – but my “hobby” became mental illness. I finally found education and support through NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and became a teacher and the Connecticut State Trainer for its Family-to-Family educational course. Slowly, my family – me, my daughter, and my soon-to-be new husband – began to heal. Slowly, so did Ben.

Mental Illness in the Family Blog Welcome Video

Ben Behind His Voices

Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to HopeAfter leaving Morning Radio (and the 3:15 AM wake-up calls) behind, I was asked to write about Ben’s illness and recovery, and how it had affected our family. The result is Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope (August 16, 2011, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers). I speak frequently to professional providers and families about the process of coping with the challenges – including stigma – when mental illness strikes a loved one. Suddenly, radio people are calling to interview me. Go figure. And Ben? It’s a tightrope walk, for sure, but he has gone from hospital patient (seven times) to someone with good grades, a job, and his own (supported) apartment. And all the while, we keep our eyes open for relapse. Just in case.

Our experience with Ben’s illness and recovery has taught us a lot about diversity, resilience, acceptance, and the importance of family love in the face of devastating challenge and change. Ben is worth loving – and always has been. His life is worth living – no matter what. And he needs his community – his family, his providers, his friends – and a sense of purpose, just like anyone else. He – and countless others like him – deserve respect and understanding. Not stigma. No stigma.

You can also find Randye Kaye on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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13 Responses to About Randye Kaye, Author of Mental Illness in the Family Blog

  1. Laurie says:

    Hello, I am diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder and PTSD. I was first dianed with Chronic Depression, that was in 2006, then PTSD in 2007. By 2009 I was having mania, psychosis, depression and schizophrenic episodes and was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. The gradual downward spiral, I believe, was caused by society, doctors, counselors, and family and friends not understanding HOW to help me. I became alone except for my Twin sister who never gave up on me, and between the two us concord the most challenging time in my life. It’s now 2011 and I am also writing a book on my illness and the STIGMA attached to it. Of which I still suffer at the hands of my Ex-Inlaws and Ex-husband who want me to be stay mentally ill so they can take away my children.
    Thank you for this article. I love Healthy Place.

  2. Laurie says:

    P.S I cant wait to purchase your book. Congratulations on your success. You helped give me the courage to follow through with my book.’Thank you.

  3. Randye Kaye says:

    Thanks for commenting, Laurie. Wow – you’ve been through a lot. Hats off to you, and I look forward to seeing your book someday too!

  4. Dr Musli Ferati says:

    Any mental illness has many consequences on family life as well as family network system exerts influence on overcoming of respective illness. Your intellectual and publishing activity, Ms Kaye, confirmed this statement, through a practical and well-understanding accomplishment. According to current psychiatric recommendations, the treatment of mental disorders is based on simultaneous approach of medical and psycho-social interventions. The last one are mostly depend of sociogram of family bosom. Shortly, that mean that the integrity of family community plays a decisive role in arrangement of its member with mental disorder. Before all it should to educate the others members of family on nature of concrete mental disorder. Like others chronic somatic diseases, mental illness are curable, even their management is specific. In this direction, anti-stigma campaign is very important undertaking. Family systemic psychotherapy till now has shown efficasy, in successful recovery of mentally ill member. The main intention is to return the psych-social skills of psychiatric patients, by which, the same would be useful and acceptable member from itself family.

  5. Randye Kaye says:

    Hi Dr. Ferati – beautifully put! Yes, we absolutely need the combination of medical and psycho-social for effective treatment. I couldn’t agree more.
    Current theories suggest that a “second hit”- such as stress – can trigger mental illness symptoms. I believe that there is a “second hit” in recovery as well – a positive one. That “hit” is love, in the form of family ties, community, friendship. Without it, recovery can be especially difficult. With it, there is a much greater chance. And for that love to shine in the world of mental illness, education is vital.
    Thanks for writing!
    Randye

  6. Dr Musli Ferati says:

    Hi Randue,
    Thank You very much for your gratitude to my comment! As for love, like “second hit” in well-treatment of mental illness of any member to family community, I would to augment that this emotional discharge implores and vivifies the dynamic of family. Meanwhile, the position and the role of every member in the structure of respective family require a mutual respect among their members. In the same time, it should to exist an hierarchy in taking of decisions that are important for smooth-course to family. It is of value to said that this rule dare not to break even in family there is any member with mental disorder. Otherwise, we defraud the mentally ill member, which didn’t contribute in its recovery.
    -Musli

  7. Randye Kaye says:

    Laurie – It sounds like you have quite a story to tell. I hope you do follow through with your book as well!

  8. Dotty says:

    Stands back from the kebyaord in amazement! Thanks!

  9. Randye Kaye says:

    thanks Naomi, but I think this might interfere with my loyalty to healthyplace.com – feel free to contact them, though!

    best,
    Randye

  10. Sam says:

    Randye,
    Wow, where do I even begin? Your book about Ben hit so close to home. I think I used up a box of tissues while reading your story. My sister has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and her personality is very similiar to Ben’s, as described in your book. My parents are currently in the process of getting guardianship so we can get my sister the help she needs. You are such a strong woman, Randye. I pray that my family will be as strong for our loved one as you have been for Ben. While I remember your daughter having struggles in the book, I would be very interested in knowing how she handled accepting her brother’s diagnosis and how she was able to accept the change in their relationship. I feel I lost my best friend 6 years ago and she hasn’t been the same since.
    God bless you, Randye. Thank you for sharing Ben’s story. I wish the best for your son, and the rest of your family as well.

  11. Randye Kaye says:

    Thank you, Sam. I wish you all the best as well, and am so glad the book was of some help, even if it helped you feel less alone. Maybe some hope, too. Though we all know there are no guarantees, it can help to have feelings validated, see possibility along with the need for patience (and action, when possible).

    Ali and Ben have a great relationship now. Sure, she sometimes thinks about how Ben used to be, and about how things could have been had he not developed schizophrenia. Visiting that emotional place always hurts, but sometimes it just hits you. Overall, though, Ali chooses to join me in a place of gratitude. Ben is still here, still in treatment, still able to be part of our family – and it could be (and has been) so much worse. So we try to focus on what we have, even if her big brother is more like a younger brother now. And there is fear – what will happen if…? – but we remind ourselves to stay in the moment. That helps Ali, and it helps me, and our husbands. Your sister’s relationship with you may never be the same as it was, but it can still have value. Mourn the loss, then look at what’s left that is still good, still possible. I know it hurts.
    best,
    Randye

  12. cindy says:

    Just finished your book! I am also a mom of a young man, roughly the same age as “Ben”, with schizophrenia also involved with NAMI and other non-profits. Your book is going to be on my list of recommendations for those who I meet who are just beginning the journey, because it so eloquently describes the struggle both for the consumer and for loved ones, while giving hope and practical information. Love, humor, and constant support are so healing for all of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing the book I would have written. I am sure you will agree that, in spite of the fact that we would move mountains to have prevented this disease from striking our kids, the awareness that we now have about the struggles of those we used to misunderstand has made us better, stronger people. Hope to hear more from you in the future!

  13. Randye Kaye says:

    Thanks so much, Cindy! Your reaction to the book means the world to me. Responses like yours, here as well as reviews on places like Amazon and Goodreads, help others to discover the book as well – and I am so grateful.
    I wish your family a wealth of the “love, humor and support” that we all thrive on.
    best,
    Randye

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