I come from a history of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Mental illness runs in my family. I have gone through a large array of symptoms, from panic attacks to bouts of catatonia to hallucinations. I have been to the edge of hypersomnia and back. I’ve been given over 30 different types of medication in the last 5 years to treat my mental illness (I‘ve been on mental disability since 2004). My diagnosis has waxed and waned until finding it’s solid label of bipolar with schizotypal and borderline characteristics.
During my last major depressive episode, I found myself only being able to stay awake for 3 hours at a time, and sleeping 12-48 hours consecutively only to repeat the process. Months after inpatient treatment for suicidal ideation, I received electroconvulsive therapy. When I was released from the hospital I came to Pratt, whereupon I had the luck of becoming acquainted with the Prairie Independent Living Resource Center and all that they have to offer.
After the shock treatment, my short term memory was so dysfunctional I could barely unload a dishwasher without repetitive instruction; I was paranoid and hallucinating, having panic attacks; and I was still suffering from relentless suicidal ideation. I remember feeling already dead, having dissociated so as to not have to deal with the torment my daily living had become.
PILR was there for me. The people who work for PILR are a special bunch of people who are the most positive and encouraging and sincere I’ve ever come across. Having given up on hospitalization, I asked the people of PILR if I could stay in their waiting area during the day — for hours. I felt at the time that my suicidal ideation was nothing I wanted to be alone with. And they not only let me read and write in their waiting room, but they aided in my recovery like no other therapy I’ve ever received. Their constant encouragement, care, and kind words gradually lifted my spirits and gave me hope. They were understanding of my situation and they said they could help me with what I couldn’t handle, and they did just that. Step by step, PILR led me in the right direction: down the lighted path of recovery.
A member of PILR helped me with all of my mail; I tried to read it myself when I could force up the energy to open the letters, but at the time I could make no sense of the print. It was overwhelming and unintelligible. When phone calls needed to be made about bills (or anything else, for that matter), and I was incapable of having the organized thought required to hold a conversation, let alone understand what needed to be conversed, a PILR member helped me. One member even went out of his way to give me a file-organizer, and showed me how to use it. When I needed someone to advocate for me, PILR was there. One member drove me from Pratt to Hutchinson to speak directly to my psychiatrist, helping me to get on the meds I am on today, thus helping me become a functioning member of society. Thanks to the advocacy of PILR, I am no longer having panic attacks, bouts of catatonia, hallucinations or hypersomnia. Those ailments are things of the past.
PILR made me feel like I had a purpose. When they recognized that I was improving and could handle more on my own, they presented volunteer opportunities which directly led me to employment. Now, thanks to PILR, my suicidal ideation is minimal to none, I have a job, my billing issues have been settled, I’ve been taught how to review, handle and organize my mail on my own, and I know if I ever need support it’s not far away.
Also, now that I’m employed there is Job Club of which I am a member of, where I find support from those with similar disabilities. Overall, PILR has helped me to become a more independent individual, putting the ABLE into my disability.