I am a grandfather, hard worker and respected community member. I have my own apartment and a steady job as a skilled lawnmower. I work hard every day to make a life for myself and to give back to the community.
When I was 22-years-old I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Although I did okay being around people, I was more comfortable being by myself. I also suffered with insomnia before finally getting the treatment I needed. When I first learned of my condition I was unprepared and uneducated. Over the next 16 years I was hospitalized eight times. Not taking prescribed medication consistently was one of my biggest mistakes, although we all make mistakes.
The reality is that no one is perfect, we are all human. My turning point occurred when I realized I did not have to be perfect in order to give back to society. I felt a strong desire to repay the community – a community that did so much for me.
In 1982 I came to the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board (ADAMH) of Franklin County for a consumer focus group and since then I have been involved in countless community volunteer roles including: ADAMH workgroups; AmeriCorpsVISTA ; a governor’s study committee; chairman of the Ohio Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) committee; Severe Mental Disorder (SMD) Taskforce; Netcare’s Advisory Board and Consumer and Family Advocacy Council (CFAC) president. I have presented at conferences at least 10 or 12 times. Community service is a therapeutic tool for me; helping others brings joy to my life.
Today, routine is key for my recovery so I make sure to take time to exercise and relieve stress daily. Every morning I am mowing lawns by 10:30. Besides working hard, I love to fish! I just got back from a trip to Wisconsin with a friend where I caught a 32” northern pike.
I am a proud fan of Ohio State football, the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Reds. I enjoy attending Clippers games with friends. My family usually gets together for the holidays, which I always love. I owe so much to my family. Through all the ups and downs, I had my parents, aunts and daughter to support me.
Mental illness is the same as any other illness – nothing more, nothing less. Acceptance and understanding happen when the community learns enough about mental health so they can see me as Ron and my disorder as just one aspect of who I am. I am living proof that treatment works and recovery happens.