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Mental Health & Writing: A Bad Son Letter to the World

When I was a boy, I became obsessed with a Civil War officer named Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. I acquired and devoured every biography written about him that I could find (there are a LOT), watched Ken Burns’s epic “The Civil War” documentary around four times (it’s eleven hours and thirty minutes) watched “Gettysburg,” featuring Jeff Daniels as Chamberlain, many, many times. I dutifully memorized facts about his pre-war life (fluent in 10 languages, sang in choir, mother wanted him to become a preacher), his military career (hero of Little Round Top, shot six times, one of only two battlefield promotions bestowed by U. S. Grant, commander of the surrender ceremony at Appomattox), his post-war endeavors (president of Bowdoin College and Governor of Maine for four terms, died in 1914) and I visited Chamberlain’s stomping grounds in Maine with my wife, years after the intensity of the obsession had, I guess, somewhat subsided.  (more…)

The Family and Schizophrenia

Mike Hedrick with his father

“We knew something was just not right.”

In talking with my parents about my psychotic break, the one thing that stands out from their experience is the fear and their worry about their son. When I was twenty years old, I went on a trip to the U.N. because I thought I was a prophet of God. I left without telling anybody and I didn’t call my parents until a week later when I had finally had enough and I decided to come home. The phone call was very cryptic. All I said was that I’d be home the next day and that they should pick me up at the train station. During that car ride, I started to ramble about aliens and my mission and the hugeness of it all. I was in awe that my parents couldn’t see it.  (more…)

Why Mental Health Recovery Can Take Years

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I get messages from people all the time about my work. Many times, they’re looking for advice on how to help a loved one with mental illness. Sometimes I feel that, through me, they are trying to find some magic cure that can help immediately. The only advice I give is to be there and, above all else, give it time. That can be hard to come to terms with when your world seems so chaotic, but time is truly the only thing that can heal in situations like these.  (more…)

Born into Addiction and Withdrawal

born into addiction

 

Editor’s note from Glenn Holsten:

A few months ago, Lauren Dicair submitted an essay about her life to OC87 Recovery Diaries. I was stunned by her story — it contained tremendously sad details of a traumatic childhood that was followed by years of wrestling with mental health issues.  I was also impressed by her resilience — the writer who had weathered so many emotional and physical storms was able to tell her story with quiet determination and thoughtful reflection.

Follow this link to see all of the posts from Lauren.

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An Open Letter to Everyone

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Dear Wondering If I Should Share:

I used to be like you. Why should I air my dirty laundry? Why should other people hear about my problems? What if my friends all think I’m weird if they know my brain is broken?

I had those same fears. After being hospitalized four times I wondered if I had any friends left. My anxiety and paranoia made it a struggle to leave the house. I figured I probably wasn’t missed.

Life was good before mental illness invaded my world. Going from being the leading recruiter of an agency where I was making six figures at the age of twenty-six to being taken out of my home strapped down to a stretcher and later placed in a mental hospital was demoralizing. My reputation was shot to hell, or at least it felt like it. I had no idea how I was going to pick up the pieces of my life that were scattered all over the floor.

My bipolar disorder told me I wasn’t smart or successful or fun anymore. My anxiety tickled my limbs until I curled up in the fetal position only I wasn’t crying from laughter. My depression told me I had nothing left to live for. It shot vivid images into my subconscious and I couldn’t shut them out.

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