NAMI Metro Suburban Blog

3 minutes reading time (552 words)

From Isolation to Advocacy


A lot of what I experienced at the height of my illness was accompanied by isolation.

The year was 2002. And I was at home. The basement walls were moving and I felt the cabinets beginning to open. I was laying on the couch and had the feeling that I would not be able to get up. Even If I wanted to I could not shift my legs into a position to stand. So I stayed like that for a long period of time.

I had no job, was not in school and had a lack of interest in activities I used to like. Not even acting seemed to be something I felt I could do. I've loved acting my entire life. I always wanted to be an actor. I always wanted to feel like it would be like to be on stage as a character. I always wanted to study the psychology of different characters.

But at this point I felt hopeless. So I began having racing thoughts and played the victim role. I could not physically or mentally get up off the couch. I would not get out of the house. I would not budge.

My diagnosis at the time was Schizoaffective Disorder. That is also my current diagnosis.

I remember the walls shifting and seeing my thoughts broadcasted on the ceiling.

Finally my parents hospitalized me that summer.

After staying at the hospital for two months, I moved out to Kankakee to live in a nursing home. lived in a nursing home for two years. For me, that's when my journey of recovery began. I had a new psychiatrist in 2004. He put me on some new medication. I began to go to school. I would walk three blocks from the nursing home to Olivet Nazarene College. The medication was beginning to soothe the hallucinations. The hallucinations decreased. I began to see the reality before me.

It's scary to feel lost at the age of 25. However, I knew I had to do something. I couldn't continue this.... This... lack of interest. It would get me nowhere.

The medication helped me to focus in school. I began to get A's and B's in school.

I'm proud to say that I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Communication, Media and Theater. Then I knew I wanted to go into the mental health field.

I knew I wanted to get a job. My parents introduced me to NAMI in 2008. I began to attend the Drop In Center and go to the groups there. Then I began to go for training to become involved in facilitating groups.

I applied for a job at Thrive Counseling Center in 2010. That's when I began to work as a Recovery Specialist in the PSR (Psycho-Social Rehabilitation) program there. That's when I knew I wanted to help people. So many different types of people. But there so many different approaches to helping people.

Advocating for others took the focus off myself and that helped me to realize my meaning and purpose. In 2016, I began to work with NAMI Metro Suburban. I've had the opportunity to advocate for others since then. Giving back played a huge part in my life.

I hope others recover and spread the message of healing to others. That's the best approach. Because recovery is inevitable. It's going to happen.

Written by Jeffrey Shapiro, CRSS

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Tuesday, 25 February 2020