Bill - Client Spotlight
BILL – CLIENT SPOTLIGHT
It was February of 2007. Bill was a successful relationship manager for a local investment firm, overseeing 401K plans for approximately 25 companies. He was on a business trip in Philadelphia with colleagues. “I remember we had met as a group earlier that morning, “Bill says. “We had a very detailed meeting with lots of conversation that lasted for hours.”
The only problem - that meeting actually never took place. Bill had just experienced what he believes was his first psychotic blackout episode. Married with a young son, Bill left for home right away, knowing that his temporary loss of contact with reality signaled something was very wrong.
A local hospital got him the help he needed – a diagnosis (Bipolar Type 1), medication and an intensive out-patient program worked to stabilize him. Soon, Bill felt confident enough to pursue the Masters of Business program at Indiana University. He and his family moved to Bloomington, where for the next year and a half, he maintained a 3.7 GPA.
With only six months left until he finished his degree, Bill experienced another significant psychotic episode where he blacked out. This one was followed in rapid succession by shorter delusional incidents, and soon, he was once again hospitalized.
Looking back, Bill feels that his failing relationship with his wife at the time was the trigger. Unable to get the marriage back on track, the couple decided to divorce. Bill dropped out of the MBA program.
Mental illness runs in Bill’s family, but the on-set of his condition at the age of 39 still took him by surprise. He had experienced several instances of manic-type behavior after college, but he just thought that was normal for him. “Never would I have thought this would be me today,” he says. “I had the six-figure income, nice house, a family. If you have a picture of what a person with mental illness looks like in your mind, you’re missing it completely – this condition is horribly complicated.”
A brief move back to his parent’s home in Dallas was followed by multiple rounds of electric shock therapy, which ‘did nothing.’ A particularly scary psychotic episode while alone with his son in a hotel room sent him back to the hospital. At that time, he was referred to Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health (GCB) and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tracey Skale.
Fast forward three years – adjusted medication therapy worked to stabilize his mental condition, but Bill, unemployed and living on Social Security Disability (SSDI), was ‘self-medicating’ and completely isolating himself. Relationships and social situations terrified him. “Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months,” he says. “I let mental illness take me out of society. I was a non-persona who didn’t exist in the world.”
His case manager, Allison, persisted in getting through to him. If she saw his car in the driveway, but he wasn’t picking up the phone, she would ring the doorbell and wait. “She worked on me until I started to feel there was hope,” he says. “I understood I needed to do better, but didn’t know what ‘better’ looked like. I knew I wanted to produce again, and get off of SSDI.” Allison enrolled Bill into GCB’s Vocational Program, which provides job-readiness training as well as placement assistance and on-the-job coaching.
With shattered self-esteem, Bill’s initial goal was to just feel proud of himself again. The Vocational Program resulted in a part-time job at GCB in the Wellness Center, where Bill has become a model team member.
“It's because of the care, incredible skill and constant encouragement of Dr. Skale that I've been ‘stable’ and haven’t needed hospitalization for the last four years,” he says. “Every day I'm at work, I know without a doubt that I am on the right path to reclaim my life from this disease.”
"Bill gets up in the morning with purpose now,” says Allison. “He smiles, talks and laughs - this job has given him a sense of significance again. I am very excited about where this opportunity is taking him."
“I’m still a work in progress,” Bill says. “But I know now that I am so much more than my diagnosis. I've got a job; I've got a wonderful kid - and I've got a support staff that are tested and proven - and I don't have to tell you how wonderful each of those things are.”
Update: Bill started working as Program Manager for the Recovery Center of Hamilton County in March of 2018.
For more information about GCB, please visit our website, gcbhs.com.