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Steve's Story - I Got Through College with Schizophrenia.
In an email to schizophrenia.com, Steve writes:
The following is his story
On Dec. 11, 1995 my world changed forever. I was on my Christmas break from college and felt my mind slipping into la-la land. I believed the TV was talking to me and that I was the Anti-christ. I held the fate of the world in my hands. That night I snapped and ended up in a Legal Offender Unit on a psychiatric ward. Because of what I had done I could not look myself in the mirror for over a year. The diagnosis: Schizophrenia. I spent the 1st Christmas of my adult life wondering how Id live to see 21. Fortunately, God had a plan.
Getting back into the ebb and flow of society was extremely difficult. I felt like a perpetual deer in the headlights. Information kept shooting over my head and I could not seem to keep up with it. Everything from welfare to expenses for my stay in the hospital came up. I had no clue how to process all this new, critical information
I got back into school and was struggling with course work for 4 quarters then my medicine failed and I ended up back in the hospital. My break consisted of two suicide attempts and the attempting to assault some police officers on campus. I did a 6 month stretch in the hospital. This turned out to be the turning point in my so far dismal adulthood. I was stabilized on medicine and began the long road to recovery for a 2nd time. I got out of the hospital and into public housing which was a god send. I began looking to rebuild my life. I have a close friend who told me to give school a try again. This was the motivation I needed to get back in.
I landed a telemarketing job, got back into college, and started the road to reconstructing a life destroyed by schizophrenia. My 1st quarter back, my grandmother, who I loved more than life, was diagnosed with cancer. It also turned out to be the toughest academic quarter of my college career. Counseling was the linchpin to my success at that time and going forward. It helped me get through the grief of losing my grandmother and the rigors of school. To make a long story short, I graduated college with a degree in Economics. I held down my job as a tele-marketer and am now working with special needs folks. Thanks to my faith in God and my work ethic that was instilled in me as a youngster I made it.
I have been on every atypical antipsychotic known to man. Through it
all, the Lord has been faithful. There have been plenty of nay-sayers
along the way. I remember distinctly when my probation officer told me
college was not for everyone. This fired me up to the point of wanting
to prove him wrong. The system instills a sense of helplessness in patients
while claiming to push self sufficiency. This is a stigma I am trying
to break one person at a time. In the words of a Muslim leader in the
60s: wherever there is a platform I will speak. Just recently, the Lord
clearly relayed the message that he had forgiven me and I should forgive
myself. The message is clear, people can do if they chose too. Not everyone
achieves success on similar levels but the hope is people with mental
illness can succeed in their own way and beat the odds. The technology
and treatment are there, it is time for people to start using it.