Cyrus' Story

Posted on March 9, 2011

100 cyrus.jpgI have been diagnosed with manic-depression, more commonly known as bipolar disorder. Throw in a bit of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and probably a dose of ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and you have the perfect match. The perfect storm.

In May 2008, I began to experience the onset of depression. I was a productive member of a community, working with a small non-profit organization called the Mood Disorders Support Group. I was a facilitator of groups, a site coordinator, an administrator, and a troubleshooter. I was well-liked and well-respected.
 
As the depression tightened its grip on me, I quickly became unable to function, and everything began to fall apart. Within a matter of four months I was completely incapacitated with a profound depression and severe suicidality. My psychiatrist recommended that I go into the hospital for treatment with ECT, Electro-Convulsive Shock Therapy.
 
For many people, ECT works wonders. Unfortunately, I was not one of those wonders. So, even after undergoing ECT and changing all of my medications, I was still severely suicidal. Shortly thereafter, I made the decision to take my own life. I had a date, a plan, and a method.    
 
Now why is this so important? It is important because I would like to demonstrate where I'm coming from and where I ended up. I had no hope, I could see no possibility for change, yet here I was, still alive. My friends rallied around me and suggested that I apply for membership at Fountain House, which I did. How I did this, I just don't know. 
 
Nevertheless, with the encouragement of my friends, I became a member of Fountain House. I found acceptance, and I received the following: support, structure, and stability. I believe these three components are essential for an individual with mental illness to have ongoing recovery.
 
So, in February 2009, I was a newly-minted member of Fountain House. Change did not occur overnight, but change occurred. A few months later, I was having a chat with my staff worker and friend, Annie Russell. I expressed my desire to return to work - one, because I needed the money really, really bad, but more importantly, because I needed to work really, really bad. I love working. I love to get my hands dirty, to be productive, to solve problems.
 
Annie told me that she had a position available at the employment placement she manages - a scanning clerk for the large international law firm, Baker & McKenzie. I immediately said, "I'll take it!" We made plans for me to go to their midtown offices to check the job out. Annie showed me what the job entailed, training me to do the work. I filled out paperwork and underwent a background check, which admittedly, made me very nervous. I don't know why; it just did!
 
Within a matter of days, I was gainfully employed as a scanning clerk. And, boy, was I happy! I even got a company directory with my name and title in it. I felt proud to be part of such a prestigious firm, and I was welcomed and accepted by so many people there.
 
The job I got through Fountain House has now become a permanent position, providing me with more financial stability and an opportunity to explore other avenues of personal growth and development. For me, this is a chance to broaden my horizons, hone my skills, and work on a long-term goal of returning to school to get my Bachelor’s degree in psychology. Thank you to all my friends at Fountain House for helping to make this possible.
 

2014 Hilton Humanitarian Prize Winner

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