For the first time, my son and I both gave speeches recently about mental illness and our journey together to recovery. I couldn’t have been prouder of his talk. There was a time — when he was repeatedly hospitalized, arrested and even shot twice with a taser by the police — when I wasn’t sure that we would ever reach this day. I wondered if he would survive or join the ranks of the nearly 600,000 persons with severe mental illnesses in our jails and prisons, the thousands of homeless wandering our streets or the departed who fell victim to suicide.
Thankfully, my friends in the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other mental health advocates offered me hope. My wife, Patti, became my rock and we were blessed because my son got help from a dedicated case manager who finally got him the meaningful treatment that he needed.
But the real hero in our story is my son, who many of you know as “Mike” from my book. He calls his speech RESILIENT, which is a fitting title. Unfortunately, our actual presentation did not get filmed because of a snafu with the camera. Luckily, Mike made his own tape. The T-Shirt that he is wearing is in honor of a friend who recently died.
If you take the time to watch this two part video, you will not be disappointed.
No one should be defined by an illness. Recovery is not only possible –we should demand it.