Alert and Oriented x3 by Leif Gregersen II, a book about living with a psychotic illness, is offered as a free download from the author’s blog, Mental Health Coping Skills Blog by Leif Gregersen.
The author has schizoaffective disorder, and this book focuses on his most recent hospitalization, which he describes as being unimaginably painful. The relapse of his psychosis was prompted by a change in medication that his doctor had suggested.
The book includes excerpts from his clinical records, including the notes from his community psychiatrist and nurse shortly before his hospital admission. There’s also a selection of his poetry, including handwritten poems that he wrote while in hospital.
Besides describing what psychosis is like to experience firsthand, the author provides more general information about his illness and his medications, both past and present. The book makes a good educational resource regardless of whether or not the reader has background knowledge about mental illness.
While much of the book focuses on the author’s most recent hospitalization, he does touch on other times in his life as well, such as his first admission, when Haldol (an older antipsychotic) injections were a routine punishment for even minor infractions.
Leif is clearly passionate about challenging stigma, and works for his local schizophrenia society doing education sessions in the community. He writes:
“I wanted to show that those of us you see walking down the street talking to no one (and not using a cell phone) are people who society failed to help despite the fact that our society has more than enough means to do so.”
The book strikes a good balance between up close and personal narrative and more objective information and advice to promote mental health. I also thought the descriptions of experiencing psychosis were really well done.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the title, it comes from Leif’s community nurse’s notes that are included in the book. Alert and oriented x3 means that someone is alert (obviously) and oriented to person, place, and time, meaning they know who they are, where they are, and what day it is.
The book is available for download from Leif’s blog, Mental Health Coping Skills Blog by Leif Gregersen.
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