Bipolar Disorder Struggles led Buffalo counselor to a wonderful life

as published by The Buffalo News, by Scott Scanlon on December 8, 2017

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Recovery is possible. You can get better,” says Karl Shallowhorn, Director of Community Advocacy with the Mental Health Association of Erie County and Compeer, talking with Terrance Johnson, a young man he meets with weekly.

Karl Shallowhorn has flourished during the last three decades.

Great marriage. Successful professional career. Wide circle of friends.

It’s been a far cry from the years that followed his first psychotic episode in February 1981.

Shallowhorn was 18, struggling through his second semester at General Motors Institute, and seeking solace in alcohol and other drugs.

He and his family had no inkling that bipolar disorder was about to overpower him.

“Quite honestly, the next seven years were a blur,” Shallowhorn said during a recent interview in his office at the Mental Health Association of Erie County (MHA).

His illness forced him to move from Michigan back home to Amherst with his parents, Lillie and Charles. He weathered seven hospitalizations in the behavioral health units at the former Buffalo General Hospital, Erie County Medical Center and the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

The turning point came 30 years ago next month, when a counselor encouraged him to attend a recovery program meeting. Such meetings have been part of his wellness strategy since.

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