Thanks for checking out my website. I'm Michael and I have schizoaffective disorder. I've been in total control of my illness and have been stable for 11 years as of writing this. There's been so many times where I thought I was fully recovered, yet when I look back at myself over the years, I've realized how I've been steadily improving as a person and learning how to keep my illness in check more and more as time goes by.
Currently, I'm a leader of two support groups for mental illness (The Care Connection and Total Recovery, a support group for people with mental illness and substance abuse histories). Total Recovery is realtively new, but The Care Connection has had over 400 registered members over the years. I've come across a wide variety of hundreds of people and know the intimate details of their experiences with mental illness--people with an illness or people who are close to someone who has a mental illness. I've watched people come to group extremely depressed and hopeless and have seen them change as weeks go by and get to the point where they're making jokes and offering support to others. Watching people overcome their illness--and being told how much of a part I played in their recovery--has been the most rewarding thing I've ever experienced in my life. I want to share what I've said and learned on this website, because I've seen what helps people with a mental illness and I've seen what doesn't. But make no mistake--I do not have all the answers nor do I believe I have all the answers. This site isn't about me, but I'll go into my story a little bit right now.
My illness started showing up when I was about 20, and I'm 32 today. I went crazy when I was living in my fraternity house at USC and had to be pulled out of school in the middle of my last semester there. The thing was, everyone (including myself) who knew what happened thought everything that happened was the result of substance abuse. I was a raging alcoholic (and would pour three to five shots of Jack Daniels in my coffee mug before classes), I smoked a ton of pot and I abused my Ritalin by crushing it up and snorting it.
I moved back to Wisconsin to live with my parents for a little bit. My substance abuse problems dramatically decreased, I moved into my own apartment and went back to college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a creative writing major. The thing was, all the irrational and delusional thoughts I had at USC never stopped popping up in my head--I was hiding it and kept it to myself for delusional reasons.
But eventually I couldn't hide what was happening to my increasingly irrational mind and dropped out of school a month before the semester ended. I was totally consumed by my illness during that month and nearly died (although I've never attempted or even considered suicide) but, eventually, it all caught up with me and I ended up in Milwaukee County Psych Ward--a scary place.
After being released from the hospital, I went through a period of total depression. I took a semester off from school and then went back. I slowly improved as time went on and ended up graduating after 7 years in college.
I thought I was totally recovered when I graduated, and I kind of was, but I had no idea how much better I could get. I began writing a memoir about the year of my life where I was totally insane. There's a lot of humor in the book because it's narrated in the voice of my delusional self. It's got a humorous slant to it because I'm at the point where I can laugh at the person I was when I was out of my mind crazy. I think everyone should aspire to look back on their experiences with mental illness and laugh about them, but getting to that point isn't easy.
When I started writing my book, I started going back to the support group for mental illness that played a major role in my recovery (The Care Connection). I thought I was as good as I'd ever get at that point in my life, but I was wrong. Eventually the guy who started the group stopped coming and I was asked to be the leader even though I was only 23 at the time and most of the people at group were much older than me, but people seemed to respect what I had to say and I always appreciated that. I think the main reason I was asked to facilitate was that I know how to get people's stories out of them and get them to share the best of what they have to offer and that's what I'd like to do with this website.
I started going back to that support group to keep me inspired as I was writing my book. I also went back to offer support to others, and that actually ended up improving me even more than when I went to group because I needed the support. Offering support to others has given me the kind of self-esteem and confidence that I thought I'd lost forever.
All week long, I get emails, texts and phone calls from people--at all hours. Over time, I found myself saying a lot of the same things in those emails, texts and phone calls. That's when I first started toying with the idea of creating a blog about mental illness recovery.
My book has been pretty much done for years and just needs one final revision which I'm going through now. The thing about the book is that it doesn't really go into the whole recovery process I went through--that story would make for pretty boring reading. I initially intended on writing an epilogue about my recovery, but I realized that an epilogue would make the process of recovery oversimplified, and there's nothing simple about it.
So that's when I decided to create a simple blog about mental illness recovery, but one thing led to another and I ended up coming up with this website. I've been building webpages as a hobby since my mom taught me how to code HTML when I was in fifth grade, so I figured I'd put those skills to use by building what I envision as an online support group for mental illness.
That's enough about me for now, so (if you haven't already) Take a few minutes and read the 'Mission' of this website to see what this site is really all about.