Recovering Our Families: 8 Weeks of
Online Support and Education
|“Krista Mackinnon’s facilitation and training on family recovery provides vital, practical tools for supporting someone struggling with psychosis. I encourage everyone I work with to take this class: it’s a wealth of useful learning that can immediately improve family relations and help find a way through the labyrinth of madness.”Will Hall, MA, DiplPW
Therapist and schizophrenia survivor, Madness Radio host and trainee in Open Dialogue at the Institute for Dialogic Practice.
“I just wanted to extend my sincere appreciation for this course… I am now confident that I will survive and so will he. For the first time in a year I am hopeful and taking control of once again feeling joy.” J. MacGillivray, Mom of someone who was given a psychiatric diagnosis.
“The Recovering Our Families online course is an intensive, advanced approach to re-envisioning the person with mental health problems and the family member’s relationship to him or her…the Recovering Our Families course seeks a hopeful, strengths-based approach to families contributing positively to their loved ones’ recovery.” Milt Greek, schizophrenia survivor and author of Schizophrenia: A Blueprint for Recovery.
“Thank you for your generosity and kindness. Your comments were so valuable to me.I feel inspired by this course and hopeful. This course gave me the courage to take a step when it comes to boundaries.This course not only has helped me personally but will also help me professionnally with the families I work with. Thanks a lot!” Anonymous, Family Counsellor, & Daughter of someone who was given a psychiatric diagnosis.
“Krista, I want to tell you how much the class has meant to me and what a powerful experience it has been to have it facilitated by you, someone who learned from their own personal experience to understand the meaning behind and wisdom within psychosis and other extreme forms of coping. The class has been a deep support in helping me and my husband to not only better understand and have more compassion for our courageous son but also for ourselves. Thank you again for the incredibly significant work you have done and are doing. The world is a better place for you being in it.” Anonymous, Mom of someone who was given a psychiatric diagnosis.
“Krista, I signed up for the course not so much to get help for myself or someone else, but rather to see if the course would really live up to its very attractive advance publicity. Going on past experience, I was not optimistic. I’m happy to say gloomy suspicions were completely unjustified. I’m continually astonished at your skill in opening up very difficult and painful problems and encouraging helpful input from all participants, in addition to your own wise advice.
Today you outdid yourself, in bringing up the problem of staying in communication with someone in psychosis. A little background: many years ago, as a 27-year-old housewife and mother of two young children, I had to deal with psychosis myself. I was college educated and loved to read and ponder all the Big Questions, and in my reading I had stumbled across Carl Jung and his theory of individuation, or psychological maturity, which is something I longed for. Individuation, he said, comes about when the limited conscious ego accesses and assimilates the contents of the vast collective unconscious, the source of spiritual experience and wisdom. I eagerly pursued this line of thought, and one day had an out-of-body experience that convinced me I was making good progress. This was followed by even more impressive — and frightening — experiences that soon convinced me I needed some expert advice, so I went to a psychiatrist to explain what was happening to me, and what I hoped it meant, and to get his advice on how to handle the experiences.
As I’m sure this group knows, the psychiatrist was basically horrified at what I tried to tell him. Taken aback at his reaction, I asked him if he thought I was crazy. He pulled himself together and cautiously said no, because I wasn’t trying to talk him into believing in Jung’s theories or anything like that; I wasn’t acting crazy. But he so much wished that I had come to him sooner, so he could have spared me all this.
All I heard was the part about not acting crazy. I wasn’t crazy as long as I didn’t act that way. Trying to talk to him about what was going on in my head was obviously crazy. What I needed to do was go home and keep my mouth shut, unless I wanted to end up in the looney bin.
So I went home and kept my mouth shut, though it was the most horrendously painful and terrifying experience I’ve ever endured. I couldn’t talk to my husband or family or friends; their reaction would have been to try to get me to a psychiatrist, and I knew the end result of that: a lifetime of stigma and shame and hopelessness. Death would be better. I hung on to my frail hope that Jung was right, and that if I accepted my experience in silence and learned from it, I could not only survive but thrive.
After three long years I finally decided Jung was right. But not a day went by when I did not suffer from my self-imposed silence, and longed for a sympathetic listener who could simply accept my confession without criticism or fear and let me howl in anguish without being locked up. It would have been such a relief for me, and would have made my recovery so much quicker.
So thank you, Krista, for teaching families how to listen to their loved ones in psychosis. I’ve been waiting for years to hear that someone is doing this. One day maybe even psychiatrists will learn to listen too.
By the way, I eventually ended up going back to school and earning a PhD in psychology; I had a career in addiction treatment and am retired now, enjoying my children and grandchildren and travel. My advice to families is to encourage your recovering psychotic children to go back to school and get the degrees that will let them help others get through the same experience, because now they know what they need.
“I would like to say that this course is by far and absolutely the best and most helpful resource I have found in my 20 years of searching and trying. I was reluctant to write anything because unlike many of you I haven’t had a single aha moment; I haven’t been able to successfully put any of the suggestions into practice; my son and my family have been having the most horrifying and worst experiences we have had in the 20 years of his illness and every time I think it can’t possibly get worse…it does. That doesn’t sound like a very effective testimonial to this course, I know, but in fact I think it might be the most important testimonial for this course. Let me explain…
The only description I can come up with to describe what we have experienced, while I was simultaneously trying to take the Family Recovery course is, being in the bowels of hell with no relief in sight. (I would like to qualify that with, I am pretty tough and resilient and have been standing almost the entire 20 years of this experience, and so has my son…but this has brought me to my knees) Our experiences aren’t what’s important in what I am trying to convey so I won’t go into them. What I want to convey…
Even though I don’t even have the beginning of a recovery story to write here what I have to say is worth saying…and hearing. All of you who are parents will understand that as we raise our children even though we may not see the results of the values we try to instill in them as we are teaching them, those values show up in them at some point when we least expect them and we are overcome with pride (and surprise). Well, Krista (and others), I am that child and at some point I am going to surprise you with my ability to effectively use what I have learned here!
I have been unable to fall asleep at night after reading the materials and doing the worksheets because I am enraged at myself! I feel like the antithesis of the lessons! I often lay there thinking, “Well no wonder nothing has worked! I’ve been going about it all wrong for the last 20 years.” That mindset really got me STUCK! I am a person who believes everything has a purpose; every moment is a learning moment; nothing is irreversible; and I love the saying, “If your going through hell, keep going!”
I am walking away from this course with the tools that are going to help me get unstuck! Instead of beating myself up for the mistakes I can’t fix, I am going to accept what I can’t change and develop a “Growth” mindset. Maybe I’m not there yet but thanks to this course and all of you amazing and remarkable people, I have a direction with tools to get me there.” Michelle, Mom of someone given a psychiatric diagnosis.