I am forty-four years old, a father of four, and I have a fiancée. I was first diagnosed with a mental illness in my early twenties after a nervous breakdown. The local psychiatric hospital diagnosed me with a mood disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. I had daily thoughts of suicide and I heard voices in my head twenty-four hours a day. When I was diagnosed I felt somewhat relieved to know that there was some sort of cause for a lot of the things I was going through. It was hard for my family to accept the fact that I had this diagnosis; they seemed to think that I could just snap out of it even though mental illness ran in our family.
My post-traumatic stress disorder was caused by the sexual abuse that started around age four and continued until I was fourteen. I am still working this part of my life out. For many years I dealt with my illness by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Two years ago, God delivered me from this evil after a simple prayer. I asked God if He could just answer this one prayer for me, to take the urge to drink vodka away from me. I wouldn’t care if he ever answered another one of my prayers. A few days had passed before I realized that my urge to wake up and drink was gone, and right there in that moment I felt God’s unconditional love.
I had always accepted my mental illness as who I would always be, with no hope in sight; my mental illness defined my life. I became serious about my recovery from my mental illness about six months ago. I was attending a conference about recovery and a light came on in my head. I realized that recovery was possible for me, and not only for me, but for others too. The statement “expect recovery” hit home; it became an action word that I took as a personal mission. I now strive to achieve it daily because it is in my heart.
I have been going to Club Cadillac for three years now; they have been there through thick and thin. Since the beginning of my journey towards recovery I feel that I have just grown up. During this time of growth I became honest with myself and was able to keep a positive attitude. I now run a dual recovery group two times a week, where I am able to share my strengths, hopes, dreams and desires. At times, just listening, hearing, and observing during the recovery group, I see the hopes and dreams of others who share the dream of recovery.
I believe that if I am to hold onto my recovery then I have to share it, for those are the times that I can grow. As long as I keep doing the next right thing, I can have the opportunity to touch others, and hope that someday I will be able to share the gift of recovery. I hope to someday work with CMH to give back to others, get off of Social Security, and to one day own my own house.
Please don’t judge me until you know me.