Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lost Opportunity…

They say life is a series of opportunities. Severe mental illness can rob you of those opportunities. Life becomes just a daily struggle to survive without forethought to the future. That’s what I am mulling over in my mind this morning.

My future was bright in my early twenties. I had a full paid scholarship to college in voice performance with a minor in piano performance. I was gifted with a silky smooth voice and perfect tone and pitch. Those college years found me withdrawing more and more from life until I spent all my time alone on dirt roads in the country drinking beer and neglecting my studies.
My father drove the two hours to my college to talk to my professors about my problems. They all agreed that something terrible had been happening to me over the previous two years. Who was once a bright, social, and earnest young college student with impeccable grades had turned into this reclusive hermit of a being wracked with paranoia and delusions.
I will never forget that day I called my father on a pay phone too afraid to use my home phone for fearing it was bugged.

“Help!” I said tersely.

“What’s wrong?” My father asked sounding confused.

“Something’s bad wrong with me,” I replied.

My father drove the two hours to my college to talk to my professors about my problems. They all agreed that something terrible had been happening to me over the previous two years. Who was once a bright, social, and earnest young college student with impeccable grades had turned into this reclusive hermit of a being wracked with paranoia and delusions.

On the upside, things did finally start to get better after years and years of trial and error and countless and numerous different medications. I found the drug Zyprexa and it changed my life. The delusions went away and the paranoia subsided. I met a woman and got married and we bought a house and a new car. I started a new career driving a big rig truck. The story was not all a bed of roses though. I experienced incredible weight gain and extreme drowsiness which was dangerous being a big rig truck driver. I had to go off the medications and things once again took a turn for the worse. I found myself homeless and divorced with my wife getting almost everything in the proceedings due to my mental illness. I was just too ill to effectively fight for my rights during the divorce.

These days I am stable on Risperdal Consta. It is an injection I get every two weeks in the muscle of my butt cheek. This gives me a steady and unrelenting dose of my primary anti-psychotic medication. This medication is not quite as effective as Zyprexa, but it does keep me stable without all the added side effects of that previous medication.


My father called me yesterday afternoon with good news. My sister’s baby was born late yesterday afternoon without complications and weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces. They named her Kathleen. We are all so proud and happy. Yesterday was another good day.

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A. J. said...

hey now Andrew, your new niece has the same birthday as myself. We share this with Albert Einstein by the way... Let's see... Einstein is a genius and was born on march 14th... I am a genius and was born on March 14th. Young Kathleen has some good mojo in her corner already.

Kirby Puckett formerly of the Minnesota Twins... also a very smart guy was born on the 14th of March.

Summer said...

Happy Birthday Kathleen!

Amanda said...

Congratulations! :)

fiwa said...

Oh, congratulations, that is wonderful news!

I hope some day they refine a drug that gives you relief without all the terrible side effects. You are a very courageous person.

Augs Casa said...

Congrats on the new neice. Aren't you suppose to be in Birmingham for a visit?

Andrew said...


It was decided for me that it was best for me to stay home so I wouldn't get off kilter by the stress of a road trip. I wasn't told of the birth until after the fact.


zirelda said...

Congratulations to your family Andrew.

I'd like to add that as many opportunities as we all lose there are many more to be made. Keep your eyes open and find those opportunities.

Char said...

Congrats on the new neice! I'm a new reader to your blog and I find your struggle with mental illness drawing me back to read more. I have major depression and understand the ups and downs of mental illness and how hard it is at times. Thanks for sharing your life for those of us who learn they aren't alone.

Andrew said...


Thanks, and yes I hope there are many more opportunities to come. Life is looking kind of grand these days despite all my problems. I am upbeat and chipper this week.


Thank you so much for reading and sharing. I can appreciate what you are going through with depression as I have suffered from it as well. I hope your days are treating you kinder lately. Your welcome.


Lil Toni said...

Lurking no more...
Congrats on the new family addition!
Pssttt...I think we're neighbors...kinda.

Michael Young said...

Very sharp looking blog, Andrew. And your use of dialog is nice.

(Is this a template?)

Andrew said...

Lil Tony,

I just looked at your blog and yes, we don't live very far from each other. Thank you for the congratulations.


Thank you. The template is actually a design by Hans of the Beautiful Beta blog. He adapted the design for use with blogger. You can find his link at the very bottom in the footer of this blog.


mago said...

Hello. It is a long and tough way you described in your post, but you did it. You are a strong man: You do not hide from your problems, but look for solutions and work on it. That is pretty much and much more than a lot of people do, that do not face your problems.
I look often at your blog and it is good to see you upbeat.

Andrew said...

Thank you Mago. Thank you for the kind words of support. I appreciate it very much.

Abby Green said...

Simply the best wishes to you, Andrew. Love to hear you sing sometime!

Children with out voices said...

Ignorance creates fear. People fear what they don't know.

Jenn said...

Congrats Uncle Andrew!

alphabet soup said...

Kathleen is a lovely name.

Gianna said...

Dear Andrew,
I just found your blog. Good job.

I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for 20 years. I took up to 11 mg daily of Risperdal in addition to multiple drugs up to this date. (I started off with Thorazine, as the atypicals had not been created yet, but I've been on Risperdal since it was made available on the market)

My story is one of long term deterioration as a result of all the drugs. I am on disability now thanks to the poisoning of my body and mind.

In my research done over the past few years, I realized it was the drugs that were ultimately my demise. I've found alternative ways to treat my so called mental illness. Through the use of neurofeedback and more importantly radically changing my diet and nutrition I have so far successfully reduced my drugs by more than half without ill effect. I plan to continue the process. This is a several year proposition.

What we people labeled with mental illness are hardly ever offered are alternatives. But they can indeed work and are working for me. I now know of thousands of people who have successfully used alternatives and chosen to live a life without drugs.

I know it's terribly frightening to consider a change when it seems that drugs are the only thing that saved you. Precipitous withdrawal is certainly NOT the answer. But slow and steady lifestyle changes can and do make a difference.

Also in poor countries where neuroleptics are not used there is a 64% complete recovery rate for those labeled as schizophrenic as compared to an 18% recovery rate in rich countries (read Mad in America by Robert Whitaker.) I would go so far as to assume that if those people made further changes in diet and nutrition the rate of recovery would be even higher.

Just a few thoughts to throw your way.

I admire anyone who struggles valiantly with the reality of the difficulties of our ravaged pysches.

It is with great respect that I offer an alternative view.

Iris Blue said...

With your background in music, is there anyway you could continue with music in any capacity? A choir? Playing piano just as a release of emotions and expression is cathartic in itself. Not for money or as a career, but for personal expression. For someone whose life was so blessed with musical talent I don't read where you 'do' much of anything musical.

austere said...

I wonder why you didnt pursue computers with your very evident expertise in IT?

A warm welcome to kathleen, a baby girl is the Goddess of wealth,Lakshmi.

Leta's said...

I was trying to comment on this difficult to verify.

I happened on you by accident checking the links on blogger.

I saw your blog on Schiz and looked at it because I was thinking of doing something on it myself and I used to have it. It can recur.

The important part is you know the voices are not really there. They are just your brain talking back to you after all in the worst things.

It is surprising to see it around as you write since people hide it and you have to.

When I first had it the girl next door who had it before told me to tell the voices to go away and that is what you have to do. They will start repeating.

It is a very difficult thing and I hope you don' think I am preaching or ranting on you.

I had tried to hide it also and my stupid mother who had had problems herself started telling people I had it from things she saw in a letter and showed a Dr. I just found out about that and she is gone now. She really should not have done that.

I talked to a Dr. at UCLA about it on a study and they are very silly about it and don't understand as the girl said.

The meds will break it up but aren't very good for you so it depends on the case I think.

Don't worry about my blog I don't really have time to work on it and am just putting old things on it mostly. I don't really trust the place I was using livejournal.