Ron was 26 when he experienced his first manic episode brought on by racing thoughts, extreme, irrational paranoia, fear and anxiousness. The popular, high school president – voted friendliest in his class – had recently graduated with an engineering degree and started his first job at the insurance company where his father worked.
Looking back on it now, Ron feels that stress, lack of sleep and the pressure to live up to his father triggered the break. He adds, “For the first time in my life, I couldn’t rely on my mind. I went from the life of the party to my darkest hour. Being in crisis and out of control is very painful. I feared when it would happen again and couldn’t understand why it was happening to me.”
After months of intensive outpatient therapy and years of mastering the right mix of medication, he’s gone from having 3-5 crises per year to stability and it has been 10 years since he was admitted to the Center’s Crisis Stabilization Unit. Ron adds, “I’ve learned to recognize the warning signs of my manic episodes and can head them off at the pass through rest and additional medication.”
Now 50, Ron enjoys sharing what he’s learned with others in crisis. He has logged in more than 400 hours on a suicide hotline, participated in depressive bipolar support groups for nearly 20 years and today, works for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Collier County, as a Certified Peer Specialist on the Center’s Crisis Unit.
Ron’s kindness and humility have brought a warm presence and client-centered voice to the Unit. He is an integral part of the treatment planning process and provides weekly recovery-centered wellness education groups, educates staff and families and shows clients that he is living proof that there is hope, people can recover, and that everyone has strengths and the ability to live full and productive lives.