• Quote of the Day
    "You are much deeper, much broader, much brighter than any idea you could have of yourself."
    Harry Palmer, posted by Daniel


Oct 31, 2004
Life After the Schizophrenia Diagnosis
Overcoming stumbling blocks to succeed

Greg Hitchcock

As I sat in the lobby of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and stared at the security guard's holstered gun. Moments before, I had heard news that threatened my military career, and shattered my hope. I learned that I have schizophrenia, a mental illness my doctors called 'incurable'. I pictured that guard's pistol as a way out. Reason, fortunately, prevailed and I managed to walk away.

Soon, I discovered the General Issue (G.I.) Bill. It offered an affordable way for veterans to go to college. After the hospital, school was a breath of fresh air! I achieved the Dean's List, joined the drama club, and received a Bachelor's Degree in English. I found dreams can come true despite having an illness. Reality, just then, threw me another curve ball.

Unable to start a career as a professional, I ended up as a check-out clerk. I still believed that I had a promising future. I simply would need to find my strengths. I tried volunteering to see what fit me.

Unfortunately, when I couldn't find a position, I didn't see any point anymore. I then walked out on my job at the supermarket. That was my answer to everything: walk away.

It was time to take a break and analyze myself. No one wants an incompetent schizophrenic, I judged. If I stopped my medication then I would be seen as fully functioning. I would feel normal again so I stopped taking my medicine. It was a terrible mistake.

The voices that were banished from my mind returned. I isolated myself and didn't groom. I slept all day and stayed up all night. I ate junk food and watched T.V. at a halfway house for the mentally ill. I retreated from life.

Thank goodness, the Veteran's Administration helps veterans like me. A dedicated VA worker named Susan Maile saw the promise I had forgotten in myself. She called and visited me every day. She implored me to take my medication. We agreed that I would move out of the halfway house and into a more secure veteran's home with managed care. That is where and when the healing began.
I took my new medication, returned to living and giving back to the community.

I remembered an internship I once had at a magazine focusing on state government. I decided to focus on writing. I am now a full time newspaper reporter. I am, more importantly, engaged in my surroundings. I stand as an example that there is hope for people with disabilities.

There are challenges in my life, but life is worth living after all.

Greg Hitchcock is a writer and journalist living in upstate New York.

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