The following story was written by Rebecca Lyn Phillips, my new friend in recovery.
I’d always wanted to write. I started out a published author in 1994 with a book for teen girls, entitled “Heart to Heart.” Twenty thousand were sold. I was happy about my success, but there was something else going on in my life that I didn’t want to talk to my family about.
In 1994 I attended Kansas State University, planning to work towards a Ph.D. in Psychology. I wanted to open up a home for abused teens. I wanted to make a difference. While at K-State, however, I began to struggle with a thought and mood disorder called schizo-affective disorder. I stayed in bed in my dorm and I started to miss classes. I wanted to be in Topeka in my nice, little bed at home, not at school with all those people and deadlines. I was very depressed and everyone around me knew it, except for me.
October came and I started to lose weight. I had always been slender, but now I was missing meals at the cafeteria and I was very thin. My roommate, a friend from high school, was concerned. I started to wander around campus, aimlessly, without a direction. Finally, I went to a counselor on campus and she said maybe I could go back home. I wanted to: I wanted to be with my family and to sleep forever.
I called my dad. He came to pick me up. I felt like a failure. I didn’t know what to do. When I returned to my home in Topeka, I slept a lot and had to be hospitalized. It was the beginning of many hospital stays and I wanted to make it go away. The disorder clouded my thinking, my responses, and my emotions. I couldn’t move and I could hardly talk at times. While at the hospital, I gained strength and I met others who helped me see I wasn’t alone. I knew I was made for a purpose and through activities at the hospitals I went to all throughout the 90’s, I learned my mind could heal. I feel it has in many ways.
Now I attend groups during the day at a center in Topeka. I also have learned to be forthright about my emotions with my family. My dad and I are talking again and he and I email a lot about the day’s happenings. My mom and I attend a family support group every other Wednesday with other families and it has been great at helping us communicate better. My sister lives in Utah and she calls me and encourages me. I still feel guilty that she had to see all my pain but she’s okay about it and has her own friends.
Through my writing I gain strength. I now have a blog for cjonline. I talk about people in the community who make a difference—who care. There are people who make a difference in my life of recovery and those people I know do care. They care very much. Sometimes I feel ashamed about my thoughts and emotions, especially when they overtake me. My friends and family don’t always know what to do. I’ve gone to the hospital so many times I want to say, “no more!” My writing gives me an escape from the hospital blues. Every time I think of when I was strapped down or locked up in the name of treatment, I go to my writing and find a cause to help others who have experienced similar treatment. I know there are good hospitals and that a lot is being learned about how to treat vulnerable, mentally ill people. The ways of old need to go and new ways need to come up. That is happening and I am happy to be a part of it.
I would say I have recovered to a major degree. I still have anger and depression at times, but I have hope. This hope carries me through the bad times when I want to sleep in and not go anywhere or when I want to scream because I have to have a payee. I don’t feel accepting of all these supports in my life, but I know they are there for a purpose. So this hope carries me and defines me and I hope in my smile one can see a new me—a person who has suffered and is learning to be one with herself and give to others and try again. To me, that’s what my recovery is all about.