Monday, January 15, 2007

Pat's Story

In an effort de-mystify mental illness and reduce the stigma often associated with it, Caramore will occasionally present a short narrative summarizing the lives of some of our clients. We hope that these short stories provide a glimpse into the common struggles people with mental illness face, and how Caramore is uniquely situated to help.


When Pat was a freshman at UNC, things began to get difficult for him. Other students were immersing themselves in academic studies and social life, but Pat found himself becoming increasingly isolated. He stopped attending classes and spent most of his time in his dormitory room, eventually becoming almost catatonic.

Pat’s parents took him to a psychiatrist, and he was hospitalized. This was the first of several hospitalizations for treatment of what was ultimately diagnosed as schizophrenia.

Over the next several years, Pat was able to hold down a job and also earn an Associate’s Degree in landscape gardening, but he continued to struggle with disabling symptoms, including suicidal feelings.

Eventually, he became a client at Caramore, a vocational and residential program in Orange County. He successfully completed the program, maintained a job, got married, and had a child. Things were going well.

Then he endured a relapse and was hospitalized at UNC. He found this hospitalization to be very helpful. “I realized that things aren’t always going to go great, and that’s okay,” he says. He re-entered the Caramore Program and has continued to receive community mental health treatment.

Today, Pat is a friendly gentleman in his early fifties. He has not been hospitalized in over 10 years. He holds a job, lives independently, and maintains an active relationship with his 11 year old daughter. Caramore continues to be a mainstay in his life, providing support with budgeting and vocational issues.

In the past year, Pat’s long-time therapist at OPC (now Caring Family Network) left his position. Pat received a new therapist, but that therapist left after only six months. Pat was placed on the waiting list for another therapist, and has been waiting for several months.

Although he sees a psychiatrist for medication management, the lack of a therapist has been challenging. He recently went through a stressful time and would have liked to discuss this with a therapist. In addition, this past summer, he lost his Medicaid benefits. Although Pat earns too much money to receive Medicaid, he does not earn enough to cover the high cost of his medications. Pat was in danger of losing access to his medications.

Fortunately, Caramore staff assisted Pat with getting medication samples from Caring Family Network and also helped him apply to the indigent care program of the pharmaceutical company.

Pat is lucky. Caramore staff has helped him negotiate the complexities of the service system, thereby preventing problems from becoming catastrophes.

Evonne Bradford

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