Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 2

This is the second story of the mental illness recovery series. I want to thank Charles for sharing his story with us. His recovery has been extremely complicated to overcome, but thankfully he has been able to find the adequate resources to help him along the way. This is his story:

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Charles Owens from Roseville, Michigan enjoys eclectic music. He does not stick to a certain music genre, but he prefers to listen to songs that have a deep meaning he can relate to. His music preferences varies from classic rock, alternative rock, rap and hip hop, etc. He also is fond of reading although he doesn’t read often. Charles does not find the energy or interest to develop any hobbies due to his mental illness and drug addiction.

Charles is going to start classes at the end of August of this year. He decided to certify as a plumber pipe fitter because he enjoys working with his hands and detests repetitive jobs. His goal is to eventually become a master and work his way up in the commercial and industrial area, alongside engineers.

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Owens has seen different health professionals which is the reason why he has been given different diagnosis. He has either bipolar type 1 with psychotic features or schizoaffective. He has also been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, along with polysubstance abuse disorder. He has been on and off different medications for the past 10 years and has been suggested therapy, but doesn’t stick too long with it. Charles is still struggling with recovery, his bipolar disorder has not gone away. He has been having a hard time staying clean and has relapsed in various occasions. At the moment Charles has been clean for a month and a half now.

He has struggled with extremely difficult symptoms throughout his life. Owens has considered and longs for suicide as an escape. Due to his bipolar disorder he has times of acceptable emotions, but when his mania hits he has difficulty sleeping, has high energy and talks fast. Not only that, but in moments of stress he will have auditory and visual hallucinations.

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Due to this Charles has had a hard time maintaining a job because of his lack of attendance. When the depressive side of his mental illness would hit he would isolate himself completely to the point that he does not answer his phone or hangout with friends. He would also self harm and attempt suicide.  When his manic side overcomes him, his friends become distant due to his high energy levels and aggressive behaviors towards others, often picking fights. Many have had a hard time relating to Charles because they either view his behavior as call for help, which made him become more isolated, or they felt pity over him making him more distant because he did not want to be constantly looked over.

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He has been able to control his illness by taking 3 different medications to manage his symptoms. When he attends therapy he receives coping skills that helps him deal with the stresses of his daily life. He also attends narcotics anonymous meetings and has a sponsor who has a father suffering with mental illness who he can confide in. Charles said, “My sponsor, he has helped me apply some principles from the narcotics anonymous program to my life of dealing with mental illness, and how I need to stay medication compliant, because knowing that I have this, it’d be insane to go off my meds and let this illness wreak havoc on my life.”

His ordeal with mental illness has taught him that he is resilient and that he can deal with more than he previously thought. He has become less aggressive and has an easier time letting go of things that bothers him. Charles has decided to prevent a huge mess by speaking out, staying on medication and attending NA program. This is his advice to other struggling with mental illness:

“Stay on your medications regardless of anything else. Anyone suffering from addiction, please get help, you are worth it, and we can live clean and sober and enjoy a nice life.”

I hope his story can help others struggling with similar situations. His mental illness is not an easy one to overcome, but step by step Charles has been able to cope with his addiction and disorder. Has anyone else struggled with a similar problem? If so what has helped you along the way? What are your opinions? Let me know by commenting on the bottom.

PS. There will be many more stories, so stay tuned. If you would like to share your story of recovery, email me at

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