Fix What You Can

Schizophrenia and a Lawmaker's Fight for Her Son

2020
Author:

Mindy Greiling

Fix What You Can

A STUDY GUIDE

PODCAST MENTAL HEALTH SERIES, PART 1: MENTAL HEALTH CARE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM. A CONVERSATION WITH MINDY GREILING AND ALISA ROTH.

One mother’s fight to support her son and change a broken system

In his early twenties, Mindy Greiling’s son, Jim, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Greiling was a Minnesota state legislator who struggled, along with her husband, to navigate and improve the state’s inadequate mental health system. Fix What You Can is an illuminating and frank account of caring for a person with a mental illness, told by a parent and advocate.

"An honest, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking story of the impact of a serious mental illness on an individual and their family."—Sue Abderholden, executive director, NAMI Minnesota

In his early twenties, Mindy Greiling’s son, Jim, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after experiencing delusions that demanded he kill his mother. At the time, and for more than a decade after, Greiling was a Minnesota state legislator who struggled, along with her husband, to navigate and improve the state’s inadequate mental health system. Fix What You Can is an illuminating and frank account of caring for a person with a mental illness, told by a parent and advocate.

Greiling describes challenges shared by many families, ranging from the practical (medication compliance, housing, employment) to the heartbreaking—suicide attempts, victimization, and illicit drug use. Greiling confronts the reality that some people with serious mental illness may be dangerous and reminds us that medication works—if taken.

The book chronicles her efforts to pass legislation to address problems in the mental health system, including obstacles to parental access to information and insufficient funding for care and research. It also recounts Greiling’s painful memories of her grandmother, who was confined in an institution for twenty-three years—recollections that strengthen her determination that Jim’s treatment be more humane. Written with her son’s cooperation, Fix What You Can offers hard-won perspective, practical advice, and useful resources through a brave and personal story that takes the long view of what success means when coping with mental illness.

Fix What You Can

Mindy Greiling was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives for twenty years. She helped found the nation’s first state mental health caucus, which successfully lobbied for a significant increase in Minnesota’s mental health funding. She has served on state and national boards of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and is on the University of Minnesota Psychiatry Community Advisory Council.

Fix What You Can

Mindy Greiling’s passionate support for mental health has turned Minnesota into a national leader on the issue.

St. Paul Pioneer Press

An honest, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking story of the impact of a serious mental illness on an individual and their family. The book grapples with the tough subject of how to support and protect your son when he is symptomatic and vulnerable and yet live your life and promote independence and consequences for your son. Her story also underlines the importance of connecting with those who are traveling a similar journey, such as through NAMI, and the important role legislators have in building and improving our mental health.

Sue Abderholden, executive director, NAMI Minnesota

A searing, honest, chilling, and heartbreaking narrative. As an indictment of our ‘broken’ mental health system, it works. Sadly, the system isn’t broken because it was never built. After we closed the mental hospitals, we never built a system to replace them.

Megan R. Gunnar, University of Minnesota

Mindy Greiling’s riveting account pays tribute both to a mother’s inexhaustible love for a son diagnosed with schizophrenia and to the barriers families face as they struggle to help a loved one ravaged by the worst of mental disorders. Although deeply personal, Fix What You Can tells a much broader story as it exposes the difficulties families experience right now all across America. I have read hundreds of books written by parents about mental illnesses, and this one ranks among the best. This book is a well-written godsend for parents and those they love.

Pete Earley, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search through America’s Mental Health Madness

Mindy Greiling has written a very useful book about her son’s schizophrenia and substance abuse. Her descriptions of the raw reality of this all-too-common combination are among the best. She demonstrates how complicated it is for families to get adequate psychiatric care for their loved ones, and she uses her political position as a prominent state legislator to change Minnesota’s laws regarding the treatment of serious mental illness. I strongly recommend this book.

E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., author of Surviving Schizophrenia

Fix What You Can

Contents

Our Story

Prologue

Part I

1. The Call

2. Alarm Bells

3. Bum

4. Psych Ward Silence

5. Sharing the News

6. Frustration Inspires Legislation

7. Allies in Empathy and Action

8. Angela Visits

9. Advice from a Prisoner

10. The Third Rail

11. One of Them

12. Early Intervention

13. Tasks Unlimited

14. Debating the Governor

15. “This Bill Will Save Lives”

16. Mind Over Fat

17. Jim Is Amazing

18. The Depths of Delusion

Part II

19. Vulnerable Adult

20. Mother’s Day Turmoil

21. Really Bad News

22. ACT

23. Celebrating in Mental Health Court

24. The Risk of Hospitality

25. Colleen

26. A Better Job

27. One Very Lucky Young Man

28. Care Meeting Chaos

29. Deny, Enable, Repeat

30. Jail Instead of the Caucus

31. Escape to Puerto Vallarta

32. Relapse and Roses

33. Treat to Street

34. Where Will Jim Live?

35. Hope in the Shadows

36. Home, for Now

Epilogue

Resources

Purchase

About E-books

Available in October 2020