Mud Flower

Surviving Schizophrenia and Suicide Through Art

Mud Flower: Surviving Schizophrenia and Suicide Through Art shows the perspective of a person who has a serious mental illness, who survives extreme treatments, who both family and the health system have given up on, but who defies all expectations and common beliefs of what is possible.

Along the way, the author describes the role of art in her survival, grappling with how the life force can be either nurtured or destroyed by elements in our environment, such as nature, beauty, and art versus dehumanization and coercion.

First Place Winner, Pencraft Award of Literary Excellence

About the Author

Meghan Jisho McDonald Caughey, M.F.A., born in Atlanta, Georgia, is an artist, musician, poet, and mental health activist. She has taught in art schools and universities in California and Oregon. Her drawings and paintings are exhibited and published nationally. A respected advocate in mental health reform, her essays have been published in medical journals. She is a keynote speaker and presenter at numerous mental health conferences. As a cellist, she previously performed with symphony orchestras. Currently, she is senior director of peer-delivered services at a health non-profit in Portland, Oregon. She has designed innovative behavioral health training curricula and programs. She is also a clinical faculty member of the Psychiatry Department at Oregon Health and Science University. Her service dog, Ananda, is her muse.

One of the very finest first-person memoirs about mental health and recovery

Meghan Caughey’s beautiful and brave memoir is one of the most engrossing first-person narratives on mental health challenges that I have ever read. It’s so inviting, so engaging. It allows the reader to be so close to the author’s personal experience while also sharing so many universal truths about life and also important educational material about psychiatric distress and psychiatric treatments. I loved the back and forth between present and past, and the inclusion of current events (e.g., COVID, George Floyd) that ground the book in time and place. I had to force myself to slow down and savor the author’s words because I was so eager to see what came next. As someone with lived experience of mental health challenges, I found Meghan’s words comforting and validating. Being in the “middle of the fire” really resonated with me– we’ll likely never be fully on the other side of the flames, but it’s about our persistence and will to be in the fire and survive it– over and over again. As a college professor, I look forward to introducing my students to this important book for years to come.


A message of hope and finding meaning in a life long struggle. Inspirational!

It’s hard to find words to describe the richness of Meghan’s story. Mud Flower is a compelling and heart-wrenching account of her life-long struggle with mental illness and suicide. By sharing her story she gives the reader an experiential glimpse at the horror of the illness and the inadequacy in our understanding and treatment of mental illness. But more importantly, Mud Flower is a story about inner strength, the courage to persevere and to find meaning in life in the face of a daily struggle to go on living. I highly recommend Mud Flower for anyone wishing to better understand the experience of mental illness and the humanistic ingredients for wellness; non-judgmental support, understanding, and hope.

Mitchell Anderson

Excellent for both patients, families and practitioners

This book is essential reading for anyone treating or living with someone with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The author describes her experience in a way that is profoundly honest about the pain and despair while always moving forward through life. Her growth and healing in the face of pain is inspirational. I would recommend this book for psychology and psychiatry trainees as well. It humanizes a “diagnosis” and allows them to see the person.

Elerman Freeman

Interesting read from an actual first person perspective

If you want to try to understand some of the struggles people with mental health problems experience this is a great example from a woman who is living it. This is a very well written book by an obviously very intelligent person who has achieved success in spite of having a chronic illness that is sometimes nearly unbearable.

Jan E.

A book that can teach everyone something

Meghan’s eloquent way of telling her story is both powerful and inspiring. She is unafraid to take the narrative of mental health and how it has impacted her into her own hands and show the raw, unfiltered reality of living with a diagnosis. Her artwork gives her words an even more meaningful impact. Meghan and her story are one of perseverance, bravery, and hope that will inspire every reader.

Jenelle Richards

This is a book of bravery, courage and adventure, but not the Disney version

Mud Flower opens with “I found myself wandering from room to room” and ends with “I am in the middle of the fire. I am here.” The book is the life lived in between. It’s a book of bravery, courage and adventure, but not the Disney version. There isn’t a happy ending or a simple moral to the story. There is ambiguity and nuance; brilliance and tragic error; heartbreak and joy. Meghan gets you thinking. She really gets you thinking.

Meghan’s Paintings