Stories of Hope and Recovery: David's Story

Uploaded by SAMHSA on 26.09.2012

My name is David Lilley.
I work as a certified recovery specialist and a certified peer
specialist at Columbia Montour Snyder in Union County Mental
Health and Drug and Alcohol Agency.
There's hardly a day that goes by that I go home with
the attitude that I didn't make at least a little bit of
a difference in somebody's life.
Sometimes on an end of a very, very hectic day, just
go home and pick up my guitar.
And I don't know many chords, but if I strum
a few chords slowly it has a soothing effect.
I love to brag about my family and especially my
little granddaughter and my daughter, my son,
in addition to my sister, whom I annoy but I love her dearly
because I'm always busting on her.
My brother David is a very sweet, gentle, and loving man
and as long as I can remember he's always
cared about other people.
David is probably the nicest person you'll ever want to meet.
He comes around like once a week, usually on Sundays
after church sometimes, and sometimes he'll bring, like,
chili or something to eat and
we'll watch football because it's Sunday.
When I'm off work and he comes over,
we spend some time together.
We really have a pretty good relationship.
I was a mess before I was diagnosed.
At that point in time I wasn't really seeking help.
There were a lot of people telling me that I needed to
get help, and I was taken to the hospital.
I was acting strangely.
They had found him downtown wandering around, and he didn't
know who he was, where he was, he had no ID.
The most devastating thing was to walk in there and
him not know who I was.
I was his sister and that was very, very hard.
And when I was first diagnosed I was very scared
about what was going on.
My thoughts were so scattered and so psychotic at that point.
I was very afraid because I didn't know where I was,
I did not know what was going to happen to me.
I was sick, and I never had anything like that before.
I first began thinking about taking my own life when I was
working in the hospital in the Harrisburg area.
I was away from my family for prolonged periods of time and
the pressure of them not being with me became overbearing.
I felt myself getting sick again, so I felt I was dragging
them down and I was going to put them through yet another
hospitalization, more shame, more embarrassment, more stigma.
I could feel myself becoming manic again and,
having had so many hospitalizations, I said,
"Well what do I want to do with this?"
And I thought, "Well, maybe the family is
better off without me."
So the entire day this thought began to build and dwell and
it escalated very quickly, so I grabbed my pills and
took my rifle up behind my house and, when the pain got real bad,
I was going to do what I needed to do.
Not thinking that they loved me and thinking that
they'd be better off without me, and so I acted
very irrationally, very quickly, very irresponsibly.
My aunt picked us up from school.
There was paramedics and everything at my house, so
my mom and my dad and everybody in my family
didn't want us to see that.
They took me to the local hospital, put me in
the intensive care unit.
The next day, very early in the morning, I think it was around
3 or 4 a.m., they life-flighted me for emergency dialysis.
I stood on my deck and I saw the helicopter.
It flew right over my house with him in it and at that moment
I didn't know whether he was going to live or die.
That was a very pivotal day in my life when I nearly died.
And I firmly believe that life turns around when you take
ownership of your problems, when you take ownership of
your illness, when you take the responsibility,
taking your medication as
you're supposed to take your medication.
That did not happen for me until the doctor come in,
when I grab ahold of his sleeve and I ask him,
"Will you help me?"
When I took ownership of that, and those were my words,
instead of somebody saying, "You need to get help."
When I knew I needed the help, when I asked for the help
I really believe that's when my life started to turn around.
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, known as OVR,
is a State agency, and we specialize in working with
people who have disabilities that substantially impede
their ability to be employed.
One of the things that struck me about David was
his commitment and the fact that when he came to me he had done
quite a bit of research on what venue or arena in
the human services field he wanted to pursue.
He had also done a lot of research and spoken with
personnel at our local college because he knew
he was going to need some training in order to enter
the field in which he is in.
In my previous occupations I would always go home tired and
worn out at the end of day and all stressed out.
Meaningful work is extremely important to a
person with a disability.
It helps them be more included in life.
He just seemed like a different person when
he went back to school.
He had a goal, he had a purpose, and he had a direction, which
he hadn't had before.
Well, that opened up a lot of doors for me and got me
believing, really believing, that people
with a mental illness can and do recover.
You know, and that helped me find hope right from the get go
because Sandy had the confidence in me that
I could go to college and succeed, and that reason being
I was on different medication, I was on medication that worked.
I was in therapy that worked.
The primary purpose of a peer specialist is to instill hope.
Hope that people can recover,
hope that people do recover and, by modeling that and by
having a job like this, where you go home at night
knowing you made maybe just a little bit of difference in
somebody's life and it may be giving them
just a little bit of hope, you rest very well at night.
David actually saved someone's life because they were in a
chat room, and a young man said he was just tired of living,
I'm not coming back anymore because
I'm going to commit suicide, I'm going to kill myself, and
David kept him on the line in the chat room long enough
to get information from him, to find out who he was and
where he was, and then he called 911.
They were able to locate him and give him
the help he needed.
I'm glad to see that my dad is much better, and
he's much happier and in a much better place right now
and it just, it makes me happy to know that
he's doing much better.
When I was growing up, all I remember is my dad, seeing him
sleep on the couch, and now I actually see him awake.
Giving up is not an option when you have an
illness, especially with suicide.
A person can get into such a deep hole they can't find
their way out and all they need to do is reach
a hand out and someone will be there, someone.
If it's not a family member, it could be a doctor, a priest,
but they need to do that because they're so down in
a hole they don't realize what their death would do
to a family member that is left behind.
Had I lost my brother, it would've been devastating
because we had both lost our brother
a couple of years before that.
My brother served three tours of duty in Vietnam, and
I lost him in 1988 at the age of 42.
And I would like to think that, if the
Suicide Prevention Lifeline would've been available there or
the "press one for veterans" extension, he might've received
the help that he needed so badly.
And to lose David would be losing my last sibling.
When I had my suicidal thoughts, there was no
Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
It would've helped me in 1996 if it had been available back then.
Oftentimes, and I find this with my peers,
they're afraid to call.
They're afraid to ask for help, such as I was keeping it
inside of me thinking I could do it myself.
I could fight through this suicidal ideation, or this
suicidal thought, or this suicidal tendency, or this
self-injury on my own and often the case we can't do that.
We need to call for help.
When I nearly died I nearly missed out on a lot of,
a lot of my children's life.
And it's been a real blessing to watch them grow into adults
and be blessed with a grandchild.
And sometimes you get quite emotional, and
sometimes it brings tears to my eyes that
I nearly missed all that.