LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The job was gone, the gun was loaded, and a voice was saying, “You’re a waste, give up now, do it now.”
It was a command, not a suggestion, and what mattered at that moment — a winter evening in 2000 — was not where the voice was coming from, but how assured it was, how persuasive.
Losing his first decent job ever seemed like too much for Joe Holt to live with. It was time.
“All I remember then is a knock on the bedroom door and my wife, Patsy, she sits down on the bed and hugs me, and I’m holding the gun in my left hand, down here, out of sight,” said Mr. Holt, 50, a computer consultant and entrepreneur who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
She says, ‘Joe, I know you feel like quitting, but what if tomorrow is the day you get what you want?’ And walks out. I sat there staring at that gun for an hour at least, and finally decided — never again. It can never be an option. Patsy deserves for me to be trying.”
In recent years, researchers have begun talking about mental health care in the same way addiction specialists speak of recovery — the lifelong journey of self-treatment and discipline that guides substance abuse programs. The idea remains controversial: managing a severe mental illness is more complicated than simply avoiding certain behaviors. The journey has more mazes, fewer road signs….