Heidi was the last person to see it coming. It began with a series of losses. Some of the proudest achievements of her life started to slip away—a great job, a partner she loved, and a waterfront home she treasured. And then she was stopped in her tracks. She was forced to leave college just three months short of her graduation.
Today, Heidi can only describe her descent into mental illness as six-years of living in a waking coma. A chunk of her life she was alive but simply not present for. She lived those years largely mute, not speaking, and in self-imposed isolation.
Her silver lining—when Heidi was diagnosed with schizophrenia her father stuck by her side, “My daughter was not living, she was simply existing.” In his love she found the footing to regain control of her life, and together they were able to reach out and find the help they needed.
Heidi can talk about that time now. In fact, Heidi has travelled very far since her days of silence. Today she actively participates in the Aberdeen Hospital’s youth outreach program, where she shares her personal story with high school students to improve awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental illness and the importance of early identification.
Heidi has a long list of people she credits for her recovery. At the top of her list is her father, followed by her doctors and nurses and the psychosocial rehabilitation she received at the Aberdeen Hospital. Right in her community, she was able to find the supportive, non-judgmental environment she needed to build healthy routines for her life, so vital to her recovery.