I am writing this after hearing your presentation to our Rotary club. I am 77 years young. I have had four wonderful years at Miami of Ohio, started my business at age 23 and sold it when I was 62. We have three great kids and six grandchildren, all living within 15 minutes. What more could I ask?
After college graduation I volunteered at the Chicago Boys Club, Lydia Children’s Home for 10 years, served on the board of Teen Living ( a facility for homeless teenagers ) and then founded College Bound Opportunities. Today CBO has over 200 underserved youth in our communities going to college and over 150 community mentors assigned to each one for six years. Joanie and I mentor 10 kids, some for over 25 years.
The reason I mention all of this is because I think, by most standards I am a successful and good person. I was fortunate that 50 years ago I married an amazing lady. However, I was a driven person who many times was not empathetic to those closest to me – like my wife.
The problem was my temper that could get out of control. What my wife did not know was that underneath my “strong character” was someone that could get depressed for no apparent reason. I was good at not showing this, especially to my friends. One day, when I was working out at the gym I saw a hand written sign in the locker room that said “ If you sometimes feel depressed call XX and I am sure I can help you”
I did, we met many times and then she said “Cliff I think you are manic depressive and should see a psychiatrist”. It almost came as a relief. I could not understand why I could have these terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach even when everything seemed to be going well.
I got medication and within a few months the negative feelings had been greatly reduced. I also lost some of my manic, so I was more relaxed and could make better decisions at work and home. When I told some of my close friends about my challenge they refused to believe it. I was such an up an fun and up guy (my manic helped there).
Recently I convinced the psychiatrist to let me slowly go off the medication. Guess what. Within three months I started feeling bad and am back on my medication and feeling wonderful. Being retired and meditation also helps.
Why am I putting all of these personal feelings on paper? In the hope that anyone that may be unhappy and can’t control or understand it, or knows someone that has these feelings, might feel comfortable asking for help. I had the ability to admit and face them. I know many people do not, and I feel for them. Just as I want to help underserved young people, I would like to help anyone that faces the mental challenges that we cannot overcome ourselves. I am not embarrassed because of my challenges, but glad that I was blessed with the ability to understand that I needed help and got it. I also feel that because of this challenge I am better able to walk in the other persons shoes, no matter what their challenge. Giving back helps to heal as well.
I hope that this letter in some way may help Rebecca’s Dream help others overcome their fears of medication and recognizing that getting help is strength, not a weakness.
Thanks for the wonderful work you are doing