People Have Recovered

Marion Kolitwenzew; Sandy Level, VA

In what ways have you found psychiatric medication(s) harmful, if any?

I am weaning off meds now. When I was taking them at a high dose, I had no energy and no interest in life. I laid in bed until 2 in the afternoon. I felt socially isolated when I was around people. All I could do was watch TV. Now that I have reduced my meds by 95%. I’m alive, awake, active and social. I can’t wait until I am totally free.

During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeful about your chance of getting better?

Yes. When I was in the state hospital I was in a peer group, WRAP. I saw a video. Dr. Daniel Fisher was interviewed. He is a psychiatrist who was diagnosed schizophrenic as a young man. That gave me hope. WRAP’s focus on recovery and hope turned my head.

During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeless about your chance of getting better?

Yes. Too many times to describe. I’ve been hospitalized about 20 times. Every time I was in hospital. I would feel hopeless when I woke up alone and took my medicine that made me feel so bad.

Has a mental health provider ever told you that you could reach a personal goal despite your psychiatric diagnosis (for example, education, career, independent housing, relationship, children, etc.)?

Yes. I had a psychologist at the state hospital affirm me that I could be a WRAP facilitator.

Tell us what recovery means to you. How would you define recovery from mental health or emotional problems in your own words?

Waking up to the day and meeting it head on. Getting busy, communicating with friends. Finding fulfilling work.

If you could send a brief message to someone receiving mental health care today who is feeling hopeless about getting better, what would you say?

People have recovered from mental illness, worse than yours! Find resources and people who tell you that. You can be medication free!

Can you give examples showing you have gotten better from a mental or emotional problem, such as how you are doing well or accomplishing goals you have chosen?

I am now up in the morning by 7:00am. I take care of myself and I have built a web site: I am pleased with it. It is my message to the mentally ill and to the world. I am taking a course in how to write a non-fiction book proposal. I just saw my girlfriend whom I talk with a lot on the phone. Next week my doctor and I are going to fill out my DMV report so I can get my drivers license back. I’ve applied to become a WRAP facilitator. I have to get a job and find income. I want off disability.