Fix What You Can

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Fix What You Can is a frank account of a mother who was a state legislator when her son Jim's first psychotic episode manifested itself in a delusion demanding he kill her. Her seat at the table helped her to change the policies that would have barred her from saving his life. She first had to overcome her fear that Jim would be like her beloved grandmother who disappeared into a mental hospital when she was 10.

 Given the heightened national interest in mental illness today and the millions of people affected, this book is timely. It spans 20 years and covers new ground about living with schizophrenia, adding understanding and new appreciation of the challenges. 


An honest, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking story of the impact of a serious mental illness on an individual and their family. The book grapples with the tough subject of how do you 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 travelling a similar journey, such as through NAMI, and the important role legislators have in building and improving our mental health system.

Sue Abderholden | MPH Executive Director, NAMI Minnesota

It’s a fantastic book and should be read by anyone who wants to put their frustrations into action! Former Minnesota state representative Mindy Greiling shares the long and difficult struggle her family faced after her son Jim was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at age 20. Greiling’s story offers an unflinching view of the devastating cyclical nature of severe mental illness, but also a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her attempts to reform a broken system with the tool she knows best – legislation. This book perfectly captures the experiences of many families affected by severe mental illness, and does so with optimism and compassion.”

Lisa Daily | Director, Treatment Advocacy Center  

I picked up your amazing manuscript thinking I would just start by skimming a bit of it and put it down late at night having read it in one day. It is a searing, honest, chilling and heart-breaking 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, Ph.D. | Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Director, Institute of Child Development, Associate Director, Center for Neurobehavioral Development, 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

“Jim Greiling’s illness and his family’s 20-year effort to help him are rivetingly chronicled in former Rep. Greiling’s new book, “Fix What You Can: Schizophrenia and a Lawmaker’s Fight for her Son. The book reveals that the former legislator is as adept at storytelling as lawmaking. It relates Jim’s story in compelling terms that should both enlighten readers who are unfamiliar with his disease and hearten those who know it only too well. Greiling amply achieves her book’s stated goal: to “model what I encourage everyone to do: tell our stories.” 

Lori Sturdevant | Minneapolis StarTribune

“I couldn’t put a book down written by former Minnesota state representative, Mindy Greiling. In ‘Fix What You Can: Schizophrenia and a Lawmaker’s Fight for Her Son,’ I read a sometimes devastating, sometimes hopeful, yet always honest account of this serious mental illness. I applaud Mindy for including her son, Jim, who cooperated in reviewing and editing the story.”

Michael Dahl | Director of Public Policy, HOME Line

“Greiling’s book beautifully and painfully spells out the many attempts that she and her husband, Roger, made to get Jim help, as well as the numerous frustrating roadblocks they encountered, chief among them the particular difficulties of trying to assist an uncooperative adult child.” 

Minnesota Alumni, Winter

"I have worked in the field of mental health for almost 37 years (33 of them in the Clubhouse Model) and have to tell you that your book is one of the best I have read of many in this area. I felt the depth of your pain, anger, helplessness and roller coaster of emotions in trying to help your son in every way imaginable."

Jack Yatsko | Chief Operating Officer Clubhouse International

“Mindy Greiling has written a compelling book on her struggle, along with her son, with his serious mental illness"

Norman Ornstein

“Fix What You Can is a memoir that will offer hope, inspiration, and emotional resonance for parents, mental health professionals and lay readers who want to support affected families and friends.”

Access Press

"One of the most powerful, painful and, ultimately, valuable books I’ve ever read."

Joe Nathan | Center for School Change