My First Newspaper Column 2013


Thompson: I’m proof the ‘lost’ can be found

Newspaper August 8, 2013 | Wichita Falls Times Record News (TX)

Author: Kevin L. Thompson Section: Local 573 Words

In the spring of 1999 I was in the depths of despair. I was 24 and had just experienced a mental breakdown. I lost my job, my girlfriend, many friends, and the confidence that I would ever be more than just Kevin Thompson a bipolar failure. College had taught me what mental illness was according to the text books. Life was in the process of teaching me what it was like to lose everything including hope and identity.

With little to no resources, I was referred to Helen Farabee Centers for treatment. It was scary. I walked through the doors knowing that I needed help. Bipolar disorder is characterized by severe mood swings from deep depression to racing thoughts with nervous energy and no relief in sight. I stayed awake for days at a time.

When I did sleep it was for one or two hours with disturbing dreams and overwhelming anxiety upon awakening. I had what the textbooks also call psychosis. There were times I thought I ruled the world, times I thought everyone was out to get me, and times when voices crowded my head making it hard to listen to reason.

I spoke to very helpful and caring people at the Helen Farabee Centers and received medication treatment for my condition. After a while I began to see more clearly, and my mood swings lessened in severity. It was hard to come to grips with a new reality where I was defined and stigmatized by the mental illness. However, the same counselor who had referred me to the Center also saw in me a potential I was blinded to.

She said that I could help others with my experience, knowledge, and compassion. It became obvious as the days turned into months of sitting in my apartment feeling defeat that I was not destined to hide from the world and merely get by. I loved going to school. Enrolling at MSU to finish my bachelor’s degree in psychology was another overwhelming task, but I knew that I couldn’t sit there any longer just watching television, feeding the fish, and walking my dog. It was time to move forward.

It was fortunate that there were an increasing number of people in my life who believed in me, and I began to listen. It wasn’t an easy path. I quit twice before finally getting the undergraduate degree in psychology. The key was never giving up. Once again, thanks to the support of those who cared for me, I challenged the belief that this was all I could do. I enrolled in the master’s program in counseling at MSU.

With a renewed sense of confidence, I attended class part time and worked in the mental health field where my experience overcoming the many challenges associated with mental illness proved invaluable. When I talked to people, I always encouraged and never condemned. When faced with their sense of defeat and despair, I told parts of my story and became the proof that there was hope when all seemed hopeless.

Eventually I returned to Helen Farabee Centers with an “attitude of gratitude.” I wanted to pay back the system that had helped me in my time of need. The opportunity to give back fueled my passion and quenched the flames of dread and apprehension. That was over seven years ago. I am still here serving as best I can with the hope that others will see that a psychiatric diagnosis doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Recovery is possible. I am living proof of that.

Kevin L. Thompson M.A. LPC, CPS serves as the Peer Service Coordinator at Helen Farabee Centers, he can be reached at 940-397-3365

Copyright (c) 2013 Wichita Falls Times Record News

This guy got a kick out of it

This guy got a kick out of it