FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“I think I have stopped being afraid of the men and women in suits that have hung around for months. Mostly, I just hear them. Their voices are low, as if coming from the floor. I don’t think of hell when this happens. Clearly, they are from some other reality. . . . Sometimes I am glad they are here. They like being around me. I just wish they would take off their dark glasses. I can’t see their eyes, but I bet they’re flat, without fire.”
What is it like to hear voices as if a radio were playing, only to realize that nothing and no one is there? Several years ago, in the Academy Award-winning film A Beautiful Mind, we saw a portrayal of John Nash, the famous mathematician who tried to control his genius in the face of schizophrenia, a psychiatric disorder that has perplexed the medical community for centuries. Now, in a new literary memoir, MIND WITHOUT A HOME: A Memoir of Schizophrenia (Hazelden Publishing; September 2013; $14.95; Original Trade Paperback), Kristina Morgan exposes the raw, harsh world she lived in, left alone with the voices in her head. She poignantly tells the story of how she tries to destroy herself and how she manages, through the power of a strong support system and the proper medication, to survive.
In MIND WITHOUT A HOME, Morgan talks about being born a tall, awkward, bookish girl, who began to notice the voices as a teenager. They assaulted her with comments such as “We’re your worst nightmare and your best friends.” Her inability to escape her demons led to her first suicide attempt at fifteen years old. Not knowing what to do, her family arranged for her to get plastic surgery on her nose and to take self-improvement classes, only accentuating Morgan’s already low self-esteem.
“During those nine months, I was careful not to talk about the hum that plagued me. I was certain that if the staff knew, they would put me on medication, tell me that no one should experience a hum. Nor did I tell them of my knowledge of other realities. Again, I was terrified at the thought of having to take medication—medication that would mess with my mind.”
At sixteen, she was modeling clothes while at the same time trying to break her arm with a hammer so she wouldn’t have to go to photo shoots. Eventually, Morgan, who had already discovered alcohol to self-medicate her symptoms, surrendered herself to her addiction. Her behavior became even more erratic—more suicide attempts and more hospital visits, residential treatment stays, and tattered relationships that only served to leave Morgan feeling even more isolated and hopeless.
When Morgan first struggled with schizophrenia, little was known about the disorder and how to treat it. By the time she was well into adulthood, she had descended into full-blown alcoholism as a way to manage her life with the voices in her head. Instead of getting her help, the people surrounding her viewed her as a threat:
“I let Joan know that I had schizophrenia in the same tone I used when explaining to friends how to bake a cake. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. This scared Joan. I could tell by the way she stiffened her body and leaned back in her chair. I explained to her that the reason I came to her was that I was getting signals from other realities. I just needed to ask someone other than my students if they heard them too. It was a way of checking whether or not I should take a day off. It was a way of learning the truth when my mind wanted to roam.”
Through the help of a program of recovery, the psychiatric community, family, and friends Morgan is now able to manage her illnesses and lives a fulfilling life. Her story in MIND WITHOUT A HOME is told in an intimate style that deepens readers’ connection to Morgan’s struggles and triumphs. Today there is so much more that we know about schizophrenia, yet it is still often misunderstood. Morgan gives us rare and believable insight into the schizophrenic mind. We witness her courage as she shares her experiences and enlightens and inspires others who live with or are otherwise affected by mental illness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristina Morgan is a poet with a master of fine arts from Arizona State University. She is currently managing her co-occurring disorders (schizophrenia and alcoholism) with medication and Twelve Step recovery. MIND WITHOUT A HOME is her first book.
Hazelden Publishing is part of the Hazelden Foundation, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1949, which helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. With 60 years of knowledge and experience, Hazelden offers a comprehensive approach to addiction that addresses the full range of patient, family, and professional needs, including treatment and continuing care for youth and adults, research, higher education, public education and advocacy, and publishing. It has facilities in Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, Florida, and New York.