Kay’s Story

It’s been almost a year since my friend Kay and I had our car accident. We were only two years out of college and had just finished work. Both of our families lived far away so we were “it” for each other. We carpooled often, and that day was her turn to drive. It could have just as easily been me behind the wheel. The light turned green, and we started to cross the intersection. A driver was texting on his phone, ran the red light, and smashed into our car. I have no memory of what happened after that.

People tell me that Kay and I were pinned in the car, and that it took a while for the paramedics to get us to the ER. Kay was in critical condition with a severe head injury, her heart stopped several times, and they had to perform CPR on her.  We both hadgone into a coma.

Although I eventually woke up, Kay suffered severe brain damage. For days, doctors did everything they could to keep her alive – breathing machines, stomach tubes, and all the other “extraordinary measures.”  When her family finally arrived and found her advance medical directives days later, they [...] continue the story

Being…in Hospital.

By Sean McDermott

Most people at a young age have had the profoundly unnerving experience of visiting a loved one in hospital.  This doesn’t have to be a shocking episode, it might as well be a maternity ward or a broken leg but it tends to stay lingering, unwelcome in the memory bank, creating interest that you can cash out in anxious nightmares or an unwillingness to park in hospital zones.  The sights and smells and sounds of a hospital even when you’ve apparently grown up, are this great big mystery and you can’t help but sneak a peek into the other rooms as you try and find where Aunt Flora is or figure out if you’re in the right wing.  It may take you 20 minutes from the moment you close your car door to the feigned cheery “hello, anyone home?” as you round the last curtain and witness the horror.  Where to stand , where to put the flowers (don’t bring flowers to a hospital ), where to sit and leak the news that “ I really can’t stay too long” as you wriggle in your very essence. It’s normal.  Many things happen in hospital to many people of different [...] continue the story

Why I am an Advocate

By Brandon Staglin August 5, 2010

I have schizophrenia, and sometimes I think about whether I have let my illness define my life. I work for my family’s nonprofit, International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO), as a mental health advocate. If you asked me when I was a kid what work I would want to do, the last thing I would have said was to take on a family enterprise. I used to value my individuality above anything else, and dreaded being corrupted by conformity. Thanks in part to my illness, my values have shifted since then. I had a psychotic break in 1990, the summer after my freshman year at Dartmouth College. A friend managed to get me to a psychiatry ward. At first, I could not accept that I had a mental illness. I had a life plan, to be an astronautical engineer! I would not be cut down by a schizophrenia diagnosis.

Three nights into my first hospitalization I decided I would get out of the psych ward immediately. I was unable to sleep, furious, and refused to take meds. A nurse was on her way with an injection to make me sleep. I would not let her violate my consciousness! [...] continue the story