Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pat Quinn's Story

Many people report that sharing experiences is a vital aspect of therapy. In addition to some form of medication, talk therapy has been shown to increase the effectiveness and success of treatment. NAMI offers programs to individuals living with mental illness (NAMI Peer-to-Peer) and their families (NAMI Family-to-Family) to help provide a setting not only for education about mental illness but a place to share their thoughts and experiences.

Sometimes NAMI will ask its members to share stories about their lives and how they handle living with mental illness. Below is a story from Pat Quinn, who has lived with schizophrenia for more than 20 years. Pat tells a story a story of hope and recovery and how he was able to gain control of his illness and of his life.

Pat Quinn's Story

By Pat Quinn

I remember when I was about 14 or 15 years of age, I had the world by the tail. I was on the basketball team. My classmates were all my friends. I was enjoying my life because it was the way I thought life was supposed to be. The world was there for me to grab and I was going to grab it.

Flash forward a few years to a very disturbed young man who was suddenly hit with delusions, paranoia and hallucinations. My family and I had no idea what was going on with me. Following my disastrous first quarter at Ohio State University, my life revolved around hospitals, doctors, a search for a proper diagnosis and the medication that would allow me to function without the horrible side effects that the old antipsychotics caused for me. My former friends all abandoned me except one. My recovery began with the total support of my family. With a large family (three brothers and three sisters), that meant a lot of support.

Although there was a time when I never thought I would hear myself say this, I see my illness as a learning experience. It has given me a compassion for other people's pain and the gift of putting my own pain in perspective. It has enabled me to bring some joy into some lives that, otherwise, I would not have been able to touch.

As Americans, we have a preconceived idea of recovery. When we are young, we fall off our bike and scrape our knee or elbow and what do we do? Run and tell Mom. Mom applies a little Neosporin and maybe a band-aid and pretty soon we are good as new. When we are teenagers we develop a headache from too much school work-what do we do? Take an aspirin, right? And pretty soon we are as good as new. When Dad falls and breaks an arm, there is a cast and maybe some surgery but within a relatively short amount of time, Dad is back running the farm.

One of the most difficult challenges faced by an individual living with mental illness and his family is to change this concept of recovery. Recovery from mental illness is a long and difficult process.

There were three essential elements to my journey of recovery: one, getting out of my bedroom and socializing, two, getting on the right medication and three, using my dad in helping with my faulty perception of reality. It is very important for someone with my illness to find a person they can trust, and believe, to give them a reality check.

I believe God plays an important role in my recovery. God says in Jeremiah 29, "I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for your disaster, plans to give you a future full of hope. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to Me and I will answer you .You will seek Me and you will find Me and I will restore your fortunes." He answers in Isaiah 30. "The Lord will make you go through hard times, but He Himself will be there to teach you, and you will not need to search for Him anymore, if you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear His voice behind you saying, here is the road, follow it." These words of scripture give me hope and strength. God has a plan for my life.

The caring professionals at a mental health services organization have been a great help to me. I have learned to have a sense of humor concerning my illness. I once asked a mental health professional, "Do you know which Christmas song is a schizophrenic's favorite?" The answer-"Do you hear what I hear?" I am a firm believer that work raises your self esteem and fattens your pocketbook. I lead a support group three times a week. This time I hope they don't keep me. I also work at Beacon Place, write articles for mental health newsletters and talk to law enforcement about NAMI's CIT programs.

Many people think when school is out, education ends. Not true! Education continues every moment you are alive! I have a degree in Social Work from Zane State College and a Specialized Study Degree from Ohio University, both associates. I help mom in my spare time, which gave me the incentive to move out! I have lived in my own apartment for 10 years.

Pearl S. Buck stated, "We learn as much from sorrow as from joy, as much from illness as from health, from handicap as from advantage-and, indeed, perhaps more."

I tell you today that there is hope. With new medications, therapy, the will to recover and the immense support of my family, I am reclaiming my life. It hasn't been easy and there is still a long bumpy road ahead, but I am determined to completely take control of this illness. I take my medication every day. I am certainly not healed, and my life is not perfect, but I run the illness, the illness does not run me.

Pat Quinn and his family have formed a band called the Quinn Family Singers. Every year they hold a concert, the Quinn Family Bash, to raise awareness of mental illness and the hope of recovery. This is its eleventh year. If you are in the Columbus, Ohio area, Pat and his family would like to extend an invitation to you to attend on Friday, April 8, in Zanesville, Ohio. For more information, check out the Quinn Family Bash Facebook page.

56 comments:

Madeline Sharples said...

Pat, thank you so much for sharing your story. It is so good to know there can be happy endings. Our family wasn't so lucky. After struggling for almost seven years with bipolar disorder, being in and out of hospitals and off and on his medications, our son took his life in 1999. My goal has always been to erase the stigma of mental illness so people with it can openly get help and learn to control their own destinies.
You are a true survivor and example for others. I admire you for how you have taken control of your illness. All the best. Madeline Sharples

Melissa Chandler said...

This was really encouraging. I have psychotic bipolar. And it can be really hard distinguishing between reality and the unreal. The hallucinations are no picnic in the park either. ha ha. God bless you! And thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think it is so important for people to be willing to talk openly about their personal journey.

Bob Presnell said...

Pat great story it takes aREAL MAN to admit to the world what youve went through 99% of the people who have and are still dealind w/ depression issues wont admit it because of ''the stigma'' involved because they dont want people to think they are ''crazy'' great story I understand what your feeling really I do ! keep on keeping on and dont isolate yourself from friends

Anonymous said...

God bless you Pat. Yours is an inspirational story. I suffer from depression with a little bit of mania (I guess bi-polar)and take medication for it. When I hear stories like yours it helps me cope better. Thank you and best wishes for continued success.

Mary Earhart said...

Inspiring; I am filled with admiration for you and for my own son, who is schizophrenic. He teaches others lessons of compassion and tolerance.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your life. It is so important for family members like myself to know what you have to deal with from your perspective. It helps me to know how best to be supportive.

Dolly Kennedy said...

Congratulations to you Pat and to your entire family who stood by you and gave support.Great story,sounds a little like ours.
Keep up the good work and "Giving", which I feel helps to heal us.
Much success.
Let Your Light Shine,
Dolly Kennedy

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I have a father who has this illness and a sister with clinical depression. I find great comfort in your positive attitude and your faith in God. Blessings to you and your supporting family.
Long Beach, Ca

A. Frei said...

Pat, you are courageous to share your story to help others. Thank you so much, I wish you continued happiness.

sparkle jars said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this beautiful and hopeful post.

dorigen said...

What a wonderful story of hope and recovery! Thank you for sharing :)

Margaret said...

Dear Mr. Quinn
Thank you for your blog...it made me cry.

Your story could have been my son's story. But he chose to stop living because of the voices in his head. He was just 27 years.

Dorie said...

Great story! I'd love permission to share it on my site christianmentalhealthblog.org

JTowber said...

I admire your determination. Also the way you seek and receive support. I find the not healed, but in control line of thinking wise and sustainable. Best to you and your family.

Yours truly,

Jerold Towber

Anonymous said...

Your journey is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Very Impressive !!! I like Pat's belief in the help of God. Elaine

Lee said...

A wonderful story of a person who suffers with one of the most misunderstood illnesses known.

Gabriel Cambert said...

Your story and life are a true testament of your faith in He who heals and guides; an inspiring tale for those of us praying for miracles. May you and your family continue to find the comfort and care only He can give! THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Dear Pat: I know your challenges, my son is going through the same path, but hope is the greatest gift God gave us. You are beloved, my prayers for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story and giving us a ray of hope.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful story, Pat. I hope you will tell us more about how you accomplished this. How did you get out of the bedroom and among people? What helped and what hurt?

Thanks for your story -

Anonymous said...

Your story is an inspiration for we who are dealing with mental illness. I especially liked the part of hope and not letting the illness control you. That is what I have been fighting for in my own illness. Thank you so much for sharing!

lisa g hancock said...

Thanks for such a positive and inspiring story! I too try and use my illness as a
Learning experience and try to let people know it's not easy but it's also what u make of it! And once with some knowledge and of course the right meds u can b in control of ur illness! Yes we have some gray n storming clouds but not to give up b/c the sun n blue skies will b back after the storm! I too rely on God to lead the way n try to stay on course! You don't have anything unless u have GOD!!

lisa g hancock said...

Thanks for such a positive and inspiring story! I too try and use my illness as a
Learning experience and try to let people know it's not easy but it's also what u make of it! And once with some knowledge and of course the right meds u can b in control of ur illness! Yes we have some gray n storming clouds but not to give up b/c the sun n blue skies will b back after the storm! I too rely on God to lead the way n try to stay on course! You don't have anything unless u have GOD!!

Anonymous said...

heartfelt thanks for sharing your story. We are struggling with our sons just diagnosed illness. How do we get him to accept he is ill, get out of bed and socialize, agree to take his meds, want to get better, start praying again. and agree to talk to someone about his illness? We are trying to give him support but everything seems to backfire at this point. Your story gives US hope but he wont even bother reading...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pat, for sharing your inspiring story!

Melinda said...

Pat, thank you so much for sharing your story! You are a brave man who has the wonderful luck of a supportive and loving family. I am proud to share with you that I am a strong advocate for my son, who suffers from bipolar disorder. Like you, with the help of family, medications and an amazing out-patient program, my son has made a good life for himself. Sadly, you and my son are the exceptions. I continue to support NAMI and other mental health organizations so we can read many more stories such as yours. Take care and stay well.
Melinda Cohen
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

Anonymous said...

i found your story interesting on many levels but i personally appreciated the fact that talking to your dad kept you cemented in reality. This is actually called cognitive therapy and is gaining ground, minimizing excessive drug therapy

amylauren49 said...

Hi Pat, my story is amazingly similar to yours. I have battled depression since my teens (I'm 52 now) and from 2004-2008 was unable to function. I was in such despair that I tried to kill myself, but from this darkest day of my life came something wonderful. The Dr's stopped all my old meds and put me on 2 new ones, and they have been a miracle for me. For the first time in my life I am truly happy and passionate about living life to the fullest. Now that I am stronger I, too, want to pursue a career in social work to help others. I will be returning to school to get my master's. Congratulations to both of us for our incredible acheivements!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story Pat! We have a family member with mental illness and your story has given us great hope :)

Anonymous said...

I commend Pat Quinn on coming forth with his personal testimony about the struggles and recovery of living with the horrific disease of schizophrenia. Above all, his story and perspective provides HOPE for those who are afflicted and their families who are also struggling.
My son who also was afflicted with this terrible disease lost his battle with schizophrenia in 2007at the age of 21. We need more stories like Pat's to give us a glimpse from the other side of recovery, whatever that term means. Thank you, Pat, for your story.

Anonymous said...

I want to add another Bible passage to Pat's list: John 9: 2-3:
"...it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."
This is what Pat's story reminds me of...this is why he was born with this terrible brain disorder, and why his determination and strength shows others that hope and recovery are possible..."so that the works of God might be made visible through him." Thank you, Pat, for sharing your story!

Marcel said...

Wonderful story! May God continue to work in you life and use you in a powerful way.

Marcel J. FernandeZ

Linda said...

Thank you Pat for sharing your story, it gives me so much hope! Thank you for shring your heart and for the work you continue to do for NAMI.
Blessings,
Linda

amazingminds said...

Pat,

Your story is a real inspiration and full of hope for others. Thank you so much for writing it.

You had a tough road to travel, yet you rose above. I know God and your family played a big part, but it would not have happened without your determination.

God bless you and keep you strong.
Sincerely,
Margaret Alexander

Dana said...

I understand completely and thank you for your inspiration. Believe me being is sales as a career has made me aware of different personalities. Having Schizophreia makes you a much better person than the average person who thinks they do not have a mental disease. These people use their warped perception to hurt others. You take the time to explore and examine your perceptions. Congratualations on your accomplishments. You are a much better person and give me hope for my son.

Mary said...

Pat I would like to thank you for posting your story. This gives me hope for my son who is suffering from mental illness for little over a year. It has been very tough to see him going through the change in his life. I wish I could make all this go away but I can't. Thank you again and also thank you for the verses. I tend to forget his promises and need to be reminded that hope comes from the Lord.

mattchew8 said...

Very uplifting. I hope you continue to do well. My daughter is 21 with schizoaffective diorder. She is doing better too. However, being lonely is a big problem. All her friends abandoned her also. She has her family, but making new friends is very difficult.

Sarah said...

Just fantastic! Thank you for your inspiration, hope and encouragement.
God is here with all of us.

Larry Ackerman said...

So good to see Pat and family looking so chipper! I left Ohio in 1999 and no work for the State Office of NAMI Michigan. The Quinns are a lively bunch; my wife and I enjoyed being at their home. All told we had a memorable time with Pat's lovely family and am gladd to see him doing well in spite of challenges. Larry & Sandy Ackerman of Lansing, Michigan

Anonymous said...

I love to hear stories about other people's recovery it gives me hope and inspiration. I have Major Depression with psychotic features among other things. I have been in care facilities and all that. I now live with my husband with community support. I feel like I am recovering as well. I currently go to college fulltime and I am hoping to get off of disabilty and becoem more independent. It takes a lot of work to get well as well as the right medication, professional support, and family support. I feel that my illness is not controling me as much. I have gone outside my comfort zone as well as learning a lot of new skills to get where I am today. I can't say that I am totally recovered, but there is hope for everyone.

Kelli said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am the Mom of a beautiful bright young man who is struggling with his schizophrenia.
We live in a small town and there are not a lot of resources for him.
He's in for treatment right now and of course my heart hurts. I read your your blog and it made me cry and gave me continued hope. A smile too. Thank you and God Bless.

bustermagoo said...

Your story is refreshing to hear.

Jim C said...

Thanks Pat for sharing your experience. I am trying to be a father like your's to my son but have not been able to convince him to go for the help he needs as of yet. You have proven that it can be better...we need to make sure we give other people who suffer as you do a fighting chance for a life. Please keep that bright beacon of light shining that others may follow. Good luck, Jim C

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling your personal story Pat, as it truly does help when we share our experiences. My son has schzophrenia. I hope when he reads your blog he will find hope and motivation.

shanny said...

Awesome article. Thank you for sharing your experience, that will give hope to many. God bless you and keep you!!!


Veronica
De Familia A Familia (Family 2 Family) Contra Costa County

Pamela said...

I to despite the abuse I went through as a child, played softball, volleyball, basketball, was a well rounded tomboy. I was the clown of the class, I strived on making people laugh and enjoy life until one rough year I lost my little girl and my granddad within a few months of each other. My life went into a whirlwind. I've been on every medication that is on the market and my doctors tell me they don't know what else to do for me. I'm one in a million that is allergic to almost every medication prescribed. I'm at wittsend. What do I do? Where do I find relief? Pamela lost in this big world!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your story. It is a real encouragement to my family. Our 15 year old daughter has schizophrenia. She is lonely because of her difficulty with social skills. I appreciated the scriptures you included. They are a great reminder that the creator does indeed have a plan.

Linda in Colorado

Pat & Anne said...

Thanks Pat for sharing your story. Before my husband started getting help, I was so scared, i did not know that you could get better. We need people like you and your family to give us hope!

Anonymous said...

Pat,
For a while now I have been looking for a "definition" of recovery as it relates to mental illnesses. I found your beautifully told story answered so many of my questions.
Thanks,
Marilyn

Kathy Klesch said...

God bless you and your family, Pat. I just happened upon your story today, and so missed the Quinn Family Concert last Friday. Hope you had a good turnout and it was fabulous, which I'm sure it was. Your goal to heighten the awareness of mental illness is a worthy one, and one which I gladly join along with you. My daughter suffers from bipolar disorder, so we've been down many of the same paths, I'm sure. Anyway, God bless you and prosper your ministry!

TAFTT said...

Pat Quinn's story is so uplifting, I will try to cut and paste it so I can share it with my members. At this moment I have some very despondent people on my list. One regularly wants to commit suicide, another says he is having a very bad week, another is worried about her boyfriend, and wonders whether she can continue in the relationship; another wants to divorce her husband after 12 years, and yet another wants help with her brother. Articles like these give me hope. God bless. P.S. I am not bipolar, but have a relative. I also chair a support group for bipolars.

benita lucas said...

thanks....my son suffers from tramanic brain injury....he is in the hospital and tried to comment sucicde today....i know there is hope and God has a plan but your story has helped me today.my son was a normal cowboy before his accident 5 1/2 years ago...i am so thankful to hear good story...

Anonymous said...

Pat, you are a scholar and a gentlemen. I hope to see you again in a couple months. All the best!
Will Conroy

Anonymous said...

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog