By The Menninger Clinic, Special for USDR
“If You’re Freaking Out, Read This,” is a forthcoming book detailing a former psychiatric patient’s treatment and recovery at the Menninger Clinic and serves as her reminder of why she shouldn’t commit suicide. Scheduled for publication in 2018 by Microcosm Publishing, the book evolved from a personal essay that Simone DeAngelis wrote while in treatment at Menninger as part of the admissions process for the nationally renowned psychiatric hospital’s community integration program called Pathfinder. Having been in recovery for five years and maintained sobriety, DeAngelis says the essay and subsequent book project have been integral to her ongoing wellness.
“Prior to being admitted to Menninger I made several suicide attempts and had written two journals about why I deserved to die, so this essay about why I deserved to live was not only a stark contrast, but a fitting culmination to treatment and a launching pad to the personalized recovery plan I created while at Pathfinder,” said 25-year-old DeAngelis, who was admitted to Menninger’s Compass program for young adults in 2012.
DeAngelis says the book chronicles her journey with mental illness, treatment and recovery while providing 10 coping skills that people can implement when feeling suicidal. When released, the book will be available online and in select bookstores.
“I’m excited about this opportunity to share my story with so many others across the globe,” said DeAngelis. “I’ve been in their shoes and know the importance of being able to connect with someone who is experiencing similar thoughts and emotions. My goal is that this book will offer hope and that through it readers become resilient.”
Simone is one of many patients who say that the wellness plan they developed while in treatment at Menninger has been instrumental in their ongoing healing and recovery according to Chris Fowler, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and Menninger’s interim director of research. Fowler says that this is underscored by Menninger’s treatment outcomes data, which was published in 2015 by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, reporting that Menninger adult patients achieve significant improvement from “poor” to “excellent” in four quality of life areas from the time of admissions to discharge: social functioning, occupational and academic functioning, overall mental health and vitality.1 Another study that is currently pending publication reports that Menninger patients have significant improvement in depression, anxiety, ability to function and well-being by the time of discharge and maintain their improvement at least six months after treatment concludes.1
“Since over 80 percent of our inpatients have co-occurring mental illnesses and have had two to three prior psychiatric hospitalizations, this research shows us that Menninger’s unique treatment approach helps patients develop the tools they need to manage their illnesses so that they can get better and stay better longer,” said Fowler.
“What makes Menninger different is our longer-than-average patient stays –six to eight weeks– and our comprehensive approach to addressing every illness affecting each of our patients. We’re not an acute, quick-fix approach for people with complex, severe mental illnesses,” said Fowler. “Our outcomes data, along with patient feedback supports this approach in addressing the complex needs of the people we treat in the hospital.”
Reflecting on her nine weeks of inpatient treatment at Menninger, the first of which was spent on suicide watch, DeAngelis agrees that the length of her treatment and the personalized treatment were catalysts to her recovery.
“My treatment experience at Menninger was transformative and really positioned me for long-term wellness. It was the first time that I gained an understanding of my illnesses and addiction and how they were contributing to my suicidality,” said DeAngelis, who was diagnosed at Menninger with chronic depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder, which she says she no longer suffers from as a result of extensive dialectical behavior therapy. “One of the other components of treatment that I valued the most was the milieu therapy sessions when I had the opportunity to engage with peers who had similar diagnoses. These group sessions proved to me that I was not alone and encouraged me to be transparent about my experiences – whether positive or negative.”
DeAngelis, who now works as a care counselor at an addiction and recovery center, credits these shared experiences and peer groups as the reason why she eventually agreed to her book deal. She declined previous publishing offers that came to her after one of her blog entries was posted on Reddit and amassed 10,000 views in just a few hours.
“I turned down a few book deals because I wanted the original version to be accessible to everyone forever. But I realized that with this book I can help hundreds of thousands of people by telling even more of my story,” said DeAngelis. “I’m convinced now more than ever that the true meaning and purpose of my life is authentic connection with others. Every day that I go to work or respond to a comment someone left on my blog, I know that by helping to improve other people’s lives, I’m improving my own.”
About The Menninger Clinic
Founded in 1925, The Menninger Clinic is a leading mental health care system serving the U.S. with expert team-based diagnostic assessment and specialty treatment that improves the health of patients with the aid of treatment outcomes research. Ranked the top 5 psychiatric hospital by U.S. News & World Report in 2016, Menninger has been named one of the nation’s best psychiatric hospitals for difficult cases by leading psychiatrists every year since the U.S. News & World Report survey began in 1991. Menninger is a private teaching hospital of Baylor College of Medicine’s Menninger Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and is a Texas Medical Center member institution.
- Fowler, J., Madan, A., Allen, J., Ellis, T., Mahoney, J., Hardesty, S., Frueh, C. and Oldham, J.: Improvement in health-related quality of life among adults with serious mental illness receiving inpatient treatment: a prospective cohort study, J. Clin. Psychiatry. 2015: 76(5)
SOURCE The Menninger Clinic