Life beyond mental illness PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID C. MILLER Sentinel-Tribune Editor   
Monday, 05 November 2012 11:24
Carol Beckley speaks on mental health during an annual meeting of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Those attending the annual meeting of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board heard from four speakers who have benefitted from services provided by the board’s funded agencies.
Two of the speakers have lived their entire lives with mental illness. The other two speakers have close family members who have mental illness.
The roots of Carol Beckley’s mental illness “were conceived in a toxic childhood of verbal and physical neglect and violence.”
Even in college she had no idea “that I had mental health issues or could benefit from help. Suicidal thoughts were just part of the wallpaper for me.”
She graduated with a degree in accounting and an Air Force officer’s commission before doing auditing for Wright Patterson Air Force Base. After the Air Force she turned to several non-accounting jobs. 
“As my mental health unraveled, as my personal life unraveled, the jobs I took used fewer and fewer of my education and career skills. Eventually, I just could not work any longer.”
She began treatment in 1990, followed by hospitalizations and suicide attempts. “My husband left and took my children with him.”
But Beckley said, “I am blessed to live in a time when mental illness is considered just that — an illness. Medicare and Medicaid have allowed me to receive treatment. That includes medication and therapy and probably always will.”
Since returning to Northwest Ohio, she has been receiving treatment at Behavioral Connections and has been “a deeply involved member at the Connection Center.”
She is now working with Career Link to find a job that will be a good fit for her.
Nancy Oberhaus has been receiving mental health services for 22 years.
Her symptoms of being bipolar began at a very young age, but she did not begin to receive services until she was an adult.
After working as a nurse for 28 years, all while dealing with minor depression, she had to retire at 48 due to physical complications. That increased her depression, resulting in numerous hospitalizations.
She became a client of Behavioral Connections in 2004 and slowly began seeing an improvement in her mental health.
Oberhaus said she has benefitted from group therapy and from interaction with other people going through similar issues at the Connection Center. She has even begun working part-time at the center through a supervised work experience program.
“Even though I have severe health and mental health problems I am now able to work, volunteer and be an active member of my community,” she told those attending the annual meeting.
Leanne Eby told of helping her daughter over the past 12 years, ever since the child of 8 received her bipolar diagnosis.
“I learned through NAMI’s hand-to-hand class that I was not the only parent who had no real idea what was happening to my children.” And her daughter “learned that there were kids with things in common with her.”
Eby also learned that “it doesn’t really matter under what designation your child receives” in school assessments, “just rejoice in the fact that your child has services.”
“The hardest thing I have learned,” she said, “was at one point the illness was bigger than my child and bigger than my ability to fix it.”
And “asking that she be admitted for treatment when she was 17 1/2” ended up being “the hardest thing I have done as a parent.” But, at least in the short term, “the decision for inpatient treatment was the best decision I have made.”
Eby is concerned about the day when her daughter, now 20, is no longer on her insurance policy. She worries if her daughter “will be able to afford her necessary level of therapy and medication.”
The fourth speaker, who requested that he not be identified in this story, told of the years he has been trying to help a family member deal with his mental illness.
The speaker also shared with the audience how important NAMI had been to him in helping understand his relative’s mental illness.
Last Updated on Monday, 05 November 2012 11:30

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