Terri: To Hell and Back


In April, 2000, at the age of 36, my world came crashing in on me. I was hospitalized six times that year at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Michigan. I hit bottom really hard that year, and for the next three years that followed. I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Severe Depression with Psychotic Features. I had terrible hallucinations, both auditory and visual. Over the first twenty-two months, I went through 64 Electric Shock Treatments (ECTs). I kept hitting bottom, so there was no way for me to go, except up.

Regardless of what was happening in my life, my family was by my side the whole way, 100%. My husband tried to understand what I was going through, but the only person (outside of the professional field) that clearly understood where I was coming from was my son, Michael. He was only fifteen at the time, but also was suffering from bipolar disorder. He could relate to my depression very well. Michael and I got closer in our relationship. He was more than just my son, and I was more than just his mom. We became each other’s best friend. Unfortunately, he was called home from God on February 8, 2004, at the age of 19. I was crushed! I am still living with this “void” in my soul.

As I started to get stronger, my faith in God became stronger. Or maybe it was the other way around. All I know is that I was only hospitalized once since my son’s death. He still means everything to me and I talk with him everyday in the mornings. That is our special time together.

In June, 2006, I was hired by Northern Lakes CMH as a Certified Peer Support Specialist in the housing program. I work with individuals who would be homeless if not for our CMH’s Supportive Housing Program. I get to share my story of recovery, and am, or try very hard to be, a good role model for my clients. It’s actually a two-way street. I learn from them, and they learn from me. I am still receiving therapy and psychiatric services at CMH.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a very strong faith in God. He made me a survivor of child abuse (physically, mentally, and sexually). I was then adopted, at the age of fifteen, by the best, loving parents in the whole world. God has been with me on my life’s journey every step of the way! Without Him, I would not have made it this far.

I ask that you please don’t feel sorry for me. I believe everything happened for a reason, including my mental illness. If it wasn’t for that, I would have no recovery story to share with you. Plus, I wouldn’t be working for CMH now. I am a survivor, and you can be too. Believe in recovery, and it will happen for you, like it has happened for so many people before you, and will happen to those after you.

My favorite quote of all times is:

“Don’t judge me by my dis-Abilities,

judge me by my ABILITIES!”