From Mental Health Institutionalization to Advocacy

as posted on OC87 Recovery Diaries (oc87recoverydiaries.com)

KShallowhorn_Article

by Karl Shallowhorn, Director of Community Advocacy, Compeer & The Mental Health Association of Erie County

The Beginning

Like many others who live with bipolar disorder, my journey began early in life. It was 1980. I was a college freshman; five hundred miles away from home and in a very high stress environment. I had a history of alcohol use from high school but, when I entered college, I was introduced to marijuana. Initially it was fun, but as time went on, it served to help me cope with the many stressors I experienced. Weed simply served to accelerate the problems I was experiencing.

As a result of the academic rigor, lack of a viable support system, and chemical abuse, I experienced a perfect storm of circumstances that led to my first psychotic break which included persecutory delusions, auditory hallucinations, and a suicide attempt which led to me to being in a catatonic state. I was discovered by the college Residence Hall Director and taken to the local hospital’s psychiatric emergency room.

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