One Man's Story

“Gordon” is the president of a financially successful, publicly traded corporation based in the Midwest. He agreed to be interviewed under the condition his true identity wouldn’t be revealed.

“In ninth grade, my son was singled out by a speaker addressing a school gathering as ‘someone looking like a time bomb’ and ready to explode,” said Gordon in a telephone interview. “The speaker had been talking about high-risk children dealing with depression and drug abuse. The principal told me what the speaker had said.”

At first Gordon attributed his son’s “punk” dress and behavior to an “artistic nature” and “normal teenage rebellion.” But then came serious bouts with depression and psychiatric visits. So Gordon enrolled him in a private school.

“The principal there caught my son smoking (tobacco) and referred to him as a ‘druggy,’” he said. “So I immediately had him tested for drugs. The results showed no trace elements of any drugs whatsoever.”

Two schools later, Gordon’s son was accepted into Art College. That same fall, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward for crying hysterically and thinking he was dying. The doctor correctly diagnosed his alternating hysteria, crying and depression as bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness.

Son “Tim” is now 25, and has been in the hospital six additional times. He also has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Said Gordon, “Our biggest struggle is that though having the financial means to privately hire a professional “life coach” for ‘Tim,’ we can’t find one. I have talked with hundreds of people, even physicians. Everyone just shrugs their shoulders.”

A life coach would be a mentor, helping Tim navigate the health provider system, and be “there for him when he challenges his medication regimen,” said Gordon.

Without any private solutions, Tim had to “spend down” his savings to become eligible for government services. After two years he began receiving disability income.

“Up until then I was paying for his personal living expenses with money we had saved for his college,” said Gordon. “I feel that people like my son are severely lacking resources (to overcome their disabilities). Society is afraid to address it. You can’t see his affliction.”

Gordon urges parents to learn more about mental illness from groups like the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and to “press for answers” from medical professionals.

For more information, see www.danieljvance.com  or www.nami.org