Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 21

This is story number 21 of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Franco is exceptionally intelligent and determined to live life fully. Although life has been rough on him, he has been able to recover. This is his story:

Franco is from Colorado, but currently lives in North East Florida. He is an avid reader, Franco usually reads four book per month, depending on how busy he is. Franco loves to read all kinds of books, but prefers the topics about leadership, real estate, and personal development. He also sings and plays the guitar. Franco’s goals is to pursue an additional bachelor degree in accounting and later on completing a MBA from Capella University. He wants to obtain his broker’s license and possibly move into a leadership position within the company he works for, or start his own company.

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Franco was diagnosed with bipolar type II after he completed college. He also stopped taking his meds on May, 2014. Thankfully he feels better mentally and emotionally. Although he still struggles with his mental disorder he has been able to control it despite the difficulties in life. He believes the cause of his disorder was genetics. Franco said, “I was adopted at seven months old. When life became difficult around 13 or 14 I knew that something was not right. None of the circumstances of my daily life would lead me to believe that it was because of my environment.”

At the age of 22 this affected him greatly. At that time he began a regiment of medications and therapy. Franco mostly suffered from depression, but thrived during manic episodes. He said, “I did benefit from some of the attributes of my illness. I was and still am highly functioning and effective.” During his teen and early twenties, Franco was always busy with sports and school, it didn’t give him time to acknowledge his mental and emotional state. He said, “In high school and college in hindsight I did exhibit typical manic symptoms such as promiscuity, fighting and, not sleeping. Conversely, I excelled in school and sports. I was always in student government, lettered in three sports for four years and played football in college.”

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Franco attempted suicide three times in his life, and has been hospitalized. The last time was in 2012, but thankfully his life has been great ever since then. He checked himself in because he knew that the way he related to himself needed to change, in order to live a happy. Franco has destroyed valuable relationships, for example he does not speak to four out of five of his sisters. But managed to develop and maintain great friendships. He said, “Since I have been working on myself (loving, knowing, appreciating) my relationships have been great. A big part of this is that I moved away and started over. I eliminated all the toxic people from my life after I detoxified myself.” Franco also said, “I am married and we have an extraordinary relationship. I have a group of very close friends but, they live in different states so I don’t spend much time with them.”

For many years of his life he felt angry and helpless, but he realized that he was making himself the victim. The turning point for Franco, was that he wanted to get more out of life. He said, “I have always known that I was capable of amazing things. I had done amazing things in the past and self-loathing no longer suited me or what I wanted in life. Educating myself is what keeps me in control. Being in tune with my body, mind and soul.” He decided to change his way of thinking by understanding his limits and how to push it. The strategies he used to beat his illness, was to focus on reading, journaling, meditating and, being honest with himself regardless of the situation or circumstances.

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Franco surrounded himself with supportive people, his wife especially helped him. Franco learned that he is strong, intelligent and that life can me good. This also changed his outlook in life, He said, “It made me realize how much I could have lost had I given up. More importantly I know that the only limits I have on my future are created or eliminated by me.” He now stays alert and honest himself in order to not fall back to where he was.

This is his advice for others struggling with similar situations:

“Get to truly know yourself. Attempt to understand your feelings, learn how to think critically and objectively. Learn to trust yourself and eliminate the people and situations from your life that are not healthy.”

Franco is determined to live a healthy life and chooses to live fully no matter what life throws at him. After reading his story, there was one line that truly hit me, and I would love for everyone to emphasize this, “I had and have the ability to make my life experience what I want despite my condition.” Personally, I believe that train of thought will take you anywhere. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.

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