Recovery: The Miracle of Life Beyond Survival
The Story of Grizzled Bipolar Veteran
He has Bipolar Disorder 2 and Alcoholism. He is 51 years old and has been stable since 2010 by way of AA, therapy, medication, Church of the Resurrection pastoral counseling and classes, strenuous personal efforts, and the grace of God.
He grew up in a toxic family dynamic, in which he played a role. His Bipolar Disorder manifested itself in his childhood and teen years via insomnia, anxiety, depression, torturous obsessive thoughts, and a hypomania that drove him to become Valedictorian of his HS class of 360 people and to get his Eagle Scout at 14, the youngest one can be to receive the award.
In college his depression returned with a vengeance and he spiraled into severe food restriction and compulsive over-exercise (running). His weight dropped from 150 to 119. Body fat to 3%. He was running himself to death.
He eventually gave up his full scholarship, quitting school after three years and getting married. For the next several years he evolved into a full blown alcoholic, staying under-employed and becoming increasingly unstable. At one point, he fell into a 1600 gallon vat of 200 degree concentrated sodium hydroxide (at the metal finishing hell-hole where he worked for a year and a half). He could easily have died, but was fortunate to get out of the flesh-eating, near boiling solution quickly, sustaining 2nd and 3rdburns on 20% of his body.
He was eventually hospitalized at Research Mental Health for mental instability, left his wife and six month old twins for a woman he met in the hospital, and went into a hypomanic phase that lasted a couple of years. That involved drugs, under-employment, brief stints of homelessness, living on public assistance, an addiction to shoplifting, skirmishes with the law, vandalism, road rage incidents, and an instance of suicidal and homicidal ideation. This led to two stints in Western Missouri Mental Health Center-the state-funded hospital for the homeless and indigent. The time he spent there “scared him straight,” as the conditions were deplorable and many of the other patients were in a chronic and irreversible state of severe mental illness.
Shortly thereafter, a superb therapist armed him with Cognitive Behavioral Techniques that enabled him to remain somewhat stable over the next decade or so. But he managed to slip back into addiction (to marijuana, pornography, smoking, spending) and into another hypomanic phase that led him to run up $200,000 worth of credit card debt and to become involved with a radical political movement that resulted in an FBI investigation and an arrest by local authorities. Through these years, he also married and divorced a few times and went through many other failed relationships.
Today, by God’s grace and thanks mostly to AA, a great therapist, and a great spiritual mentor, he is stable, is in a strong marriage involving two healthy people (one being a very good woman), has a career, is heavily involved in service, has a strong relationship with his youngest son from his third marriage, and, after 10 years of estrangement, has a rekindled, close connection with his 25 year old twin sons. Primarily because God gave him the opportunity to donate his kidney to one of the twins.
He is a miracle and living proof that one can survive AND thrive with mental illness.
Several phone numbers for various crises:
KC resource with multiple numbers for assistance: