Member Stories – Kathy

It was late 1988 and early 1989 and I was having difficulty at work. I was sent to the Employee Assistance Program and given the choice to seek help or be dismissed. I chose to get help only by way of family intervention. After three months in day-hospital I returned to a different job at the same company. I had a therapist who recommended to me that a support group would be good for me, so I joined Joanne’s SA group in Southfield.

Schizophrenics Anonymous was a place for me to learn about mental health. I was very depressed about many things. For instance, just having an illness was difficult. I didn’t understand the illness and how it affected me in terms of stigma, personal status, economic factors, and relationships. My dream and desires had been altered. What I didn’t know was that this was the turning point or motivational level I needed to get back on track. That’s what SA has done for me.

As I was recovering and getting my self-esteem back, I started graduate school. My new boss promoted me after two years, and in 1993 I received my M.A. degree from Eastern Michigan University. I also became a group leader for SA for about two years. Later I started giving speeches about the importance of S.A., and in 1995 became a statewide speaker for SA. Schizophrenics Anonymous helped me integrate my illness into myself, by understanding others.

SA helped me look at myself and to make decisions that would integrate my person and illness into one. I started to become more sociable, realizing that I had to try twice as hard as the normal person to accomplish the same goal. I worked very hard at my interpersonal skills. I learned by doing my master’s that stigma can only affect me if I let it.

Today I feel whole emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I feel sound. I’ve been inspired by SA to consider taking additional college coursework in social work. I hope this will inspire others to try to overcome adversity and recover to the best of their capabilities–and to be happy with themselves. I think that it’s important to remember that one has to do homework in order to get a grade. And the grade someone wants as a person is up to him or her.