During his second semester at college, Kurt Snyder became convinced that he was about to discover a fabulously important mathematical principle, spending hours lost in daydreams about numbers and symbols. In time, his thoughts took a darker turn, and he became preoccupied with the idea that cars were following him, or that strangers wanted to harm him. Kurt's mind had been hijacked by schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder that typically strikes during the late teen or young adult years.
In Me, Myself, and Them, Kurt, now an adult, looks back from the vantage point of recovery and eloquently describes the debilitating changes in thoughts and perceptions that took hold of his life during his teens and twenties. As a memoir, this book is remarkable for its unvarnished look at the slow and difficult process of coming back from severe mental illness. Yet Kurt's memoir is only half the story. With the help of psychiatrist Raquel E. Gur, M.D., Ph.D., and veteran science writer Linda Wasmer Andrews, Kurt paints the big picture for others affected by adolescent schizophrenia. Drawing on the latest scientific and medical evidence, he explains how to recognize warning signs, where to find help, and what treatments have proved effective. Kurt also offers practical advice on topics of particular interest to young people, such as suggestions on managing the illness at home, school, and work, and in relationships with family and friends.
Part of the Adolescent Mental Health Initiative series of books written specifically for teens and young adults, My, Myself, and Them offers hope to young people who are struggling with schizophrenia, helping them to understand and manage the challenges of this illness and go on to lead healthy lives.
Snyder has been living with schizophrenia for all of his adult life. He recounts the early stages of his illness while in his teens, when none of his family, friends, or coworkers, and especially he himself, knew what was happening. The sometimes long journey from being healthy to recognizably sick is part of what makes this condition so horrible: broken relationships, lost jobs, the sense of not being in control without knowing why. One of Snyder's symptoms was paranoia that he was being followed by the government or that he might even be part of an alien experiment. What makes this book so powerful, especially for someone young and only just beginning down the same treacherous path, is that he offers hope that there is light, not necessarily at the end of a tunnel, but within the tunnel itself. This is important for family and friends as well the sufferer. Understanding and accepting this lifelong disease are the first steps toward living with it. There are tips for coping with stress and change; handling social situations, school, and work; and finding support from professionals. Snyder and his coauthors, a doctor and a writer on health issues, put a lot of faith in drug therapy. They also clearly spell out practical solutions for getting through an average day, which seems all the more precious after reading this book.