Craig Lewis, author of the Better Days Recovery Workbook tells what he learned from his extreme moments.
“I didn’t expect to be alive at this age.”
Bad Days: We’ve All Had Them
Addiction, mental health, trauma or relationship distress can eat away at you. How do you face these things and still be a good man?
“We’ve all had extreme moments.” Craig Lewis is calm and thoughtful. Listening to him, I found myself at a loss to put together his story with who he is today.
At 14 his parents took him from Doctor to Doctor, convinced he was out of touch with reality. They eventually found a Doctor who agreed and he was medicated and placed into a psychiatric hospital. He felt traumatized, rejected and angry.
Eventually the label “Schizophrenia” was given to him and he was put on doses of medications that made self-management impossible. As a youth, he cycled through group homes and hospitals. The experience left him estranged from family and friends, angry and unstable. His demeanor seemed to confirm the diagnosis, which kept the medications going for the next thirty years.
For years, his life was unmanageable, aimless and chaotic. He continued to take the medications but felt that it was the medications, not his mind, that were creating his instability.
Over time, Craig’s behavior matched his diagnosis. “I became sick.” He was in pain, felt worthless, uncertain and misunderstood.
During all of his turmoil, the one place that he found acceptance was in Punk Rock. Despite the dysfunction, the community embraced him. Today he continues to sing in a Punk band and he attributes music with saving his life.
Last year his Psychiatrist advised that the medications, not his mind, were making him sick. For Craig, the system got it wrong. In thirty years, he was put on over forty different medications for various reasons, and for different lengths of time. There are no blood tests for Psychiatric disorders, so most psychiatric medications are trials to see if they work and to see how well you can manage the side effects.
Under Doctors orders, Craig has been off all medications since May of 2015. All of the medications he was on have made a mess of his mind: His life is the side effect.
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Photos by Craig Lewis