In 1976, I married my first wife. The marriage was an unhappy one, and ended in divorce in 1977. At the time, I was attending Ohio State University preparing to become a physician. However, the divorce pushed me further into a state of depression, leading to a nervous breakdown. I was diagnosed with manic-depression and later classified as a schizophrenic.
I had to quit school, and my father found me work at a small factory. It was difficult to work since I was constantly fighting depression and the powerful side effects of the medication I had been given. But I worked hard to move up to the position of precision inspector. Unfortunately, the factory moved to Tennessee in 1985 and I was left without a job.
I then decided to go back to college and earned a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in accounting. I also began attending church where I met my future wife Sylvia.
I went to see my social worker to get help in finding an accounting job. She informed me that I would never be capable of working in an office and the only type of work I could ever hope to do was manual labor. I took the social worker’s words as motivation.
I started looking for work on my own and applied at Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana. I spoke with the vice president of retail several times and was eventually hired to be a cashier. Sylvia and I were finally married about a year later, and we saved up enough money to purchase our first home.
Over time, I joined the accounting team full-time but the transition to working in the office was long and difficult. The accounting manager did everything in her power to help me get through the difficult patches.
She would allow me to go lie down in the nurse’s office when I reached a breaking point or to go to the break room anytime I needed as a stress-buster. She even bought keyboarding software and allowed me to learn to type on company time.
Before I came to Goodwill, I spent the better part of twenty years sleeping. I feel like I have awakened from a bad dream and now I have a life thanks to Goodwill. Over the years I have been in psychiatric hospitals six times, but I don’t think I will ever have to go back if I keep working and doing the right things.
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