Stories


Adam: Increasing compassion

August 6, 2015 began like any normal day before it until my mom called my cell phone roughly around 11:00. I knew something was wrong because she rarely calls me unless there’s a problem. Little did know that my world was about to be turned upside down and changed forever. Mom’s voice was shaking as she told me that Dad had fallen at home and he was being taken to the hospital. Their neighbor, my mom’s first cousin, found him lying on the floor in my parents’ kitchen.  My mom was out of town. We realized that Dad had collapsed at least 15-20 hours earlier right ...

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Lea: The light at the end of my tunnel

My story began at a rather young age. Mental illness runs heavily in my family – most notably mood disorders such as bipolar depression and major depression. I was directly impacted by my father’s struggle with major depression and subsequent suicide when I was nine years old. This traumatic loss at such a young age led me down a dark road as I found myself face to face with heavy thoughts and feelings that I can only imagine were similar to my father’s. It scared me because I was too young to understand what these thoughts and feelings were, or what they ...

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Amy: They don’t bring you casserole

We caught our son Blake smoking pot when he was barely thirteen. I naively believed we could love and parent him out of it. We would educate him on the numerous reasons why drug use would negatively impact his health and potentially shorten his life. We presented the potential consequences, getting kicked out of lacrosse, or school, or worse entangled with the law. If not the future consequences, maybe the loss of privileges would motivate our son to abstain from using drugs. Certainly, our disappointment in his choice to use drugs would have some influence, right? But ...

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Martha: Remaking myself

My name is Dr. Martha Heppard and not only am I an internationally known and respected physician and surgeon in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and now a nationally respected fine art artist, but I also have a bipolar II condition. Let me get right to the heart of my story. In March of 2002, I was actively seeing patients in my private practice and conducting clinical research for industry when, over a few days, feelings of mild depression swept over me. I couldn’t shake this mood for months. So, I sought help from another doctor. He diagnosed me as having ...

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Karolyn: Dr. Momma Bear

What I most want to convey about this brief video is this: Jacob is OK. Hope, love, and kindness got us to the other side. My deepest gratitude for the unconditional love of family, friends, teachers, medical providers, counselors, neighbors, our rabbi and spiritual community. For the support of work colleagues, kind strangers, compassionate policemen, judges, probation officers, social workers and his guardian ad litem. And of course, Roxy and Cyrus, our family labradoodles, that surrounded and protected, and always knew when they were needed. Families like ours ...

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Chris: Isn’t mental illness a call to be otherworldly?

It’s Friday night and I’m taking an empty pizza box out to the dumpster behind my apartment building. Out the back door and into the frigid night, the first thing I see as I turn toward the dumpster is my neighbor squatting against the side of the building, a lost look in his eyes. My neighbor and I have a sort of incredulous bond. He knows my secret and I know his. I know he has bipolar disorder and he knows I have schizoaffective disorder. And we both trust each other to keep our respective secrets. It’s an incredulous bond because I’d like to think the ...

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Marty: I get to live in the now

Casual drinking, professional disappointments, boredom, socializing, the anxiety of never living up to my college degree, unaddressed family issues—these were the things that led me to alcohol. I thought it was “normal” when my drinking increased – that I could handle partying a couple of extra days a week. But when I needed to slow down, I couldn’t. I could stop drinking for bits at a time, but the cycle kept coming back. My resentments, my unmanageability, and my destructive behavior were still feeding my disease. I don’t ever really recall having ...

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Laroy: Faith got me through

My first experience with the mental health system was the last week of June 1980. I was at a church camp on top of Grand Mesa outside of Grand Junction when I unknowingly ingested a small amount of PCP (Angel Dust). I had a severe reaction and was in and out of psych wards for the next three months until I was placed on Thorazine and recovered quickly. I went on to graduate from high school and attended college and graduated with a BS degree. My next experience was – oddly enough, I remember the exact date – Tuesday, April 19 of 1988. I was employed by what was ...

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Nancy: I never give up

My story started when I was 13 years old. Prior to starting junior high school, all was well. I earned excellent grades, I was very social and popular, and I was a great athlete. All around, I was a very happy kid. Suddenly, something switched. I felt different, uncomfortable, unsure of myself, and I lacked self-confidence. I became, instead, a very unhappy kid. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was now living my life with bipolar illness. I didn't receive any sort of treatment and no one understood what I was going through because, at the same time, my ...

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Allison: My long road to recovery

I was first diagnosed with major depression at age 15, after a suicide attempt.  I was hospitalized for three months in an Adolescent Psychiatric Unit.  I spent the next 25 years dealing with major bouts of depression, anxiety, anger, and suicidal ideation.  I became addicted to drugs and alcohol while trying to self-medicate.  I've been hospitalized six times, attended a 30 day rehabilitation center, and lived in a couple of halfway houses.  I used to pray for death every night and was disappointed when I awoke in the morning.  I was self-injuring and ...

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