David is a 25 year old, single man who was interviewed in Cincinnati; however, he grew up in Wisconsin, where his parents still live. David was an athlete in high school, playing baseball and running cross country. He did well at those sports and also did well enough in school to get his high school degree. Then, he went on to college in Wisconsin. He wanted to participate in sports there, but had some difficulties:
I wanted to go out for cross country. I was thinking about going out for baseball. It was very rough for me, very hard to let go of that sports time because that’s all I knew. And I know that that caused some depression.
It is not uncommon for mental illness to limit a person’s ability to engage in previously enjoyable activities. David has been diagnosed with both Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as well as Schizoaffective Disorder. (Schizoaffective Disorder is a combination of Schizophrenia and a major mood disorder – either Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder.) This is not easy for him, and he is not happy with the degree to which he is currently medicated:
It makes me feel very depressed about myself and not understanding why I have to take as many pills as I do each day. It’s very difficult to look at the pills and manage the pills and know that at some point I didn’t have to take that medicine.
Although David is taking several medications now, he is pleased to report being sober from illegal drugs for several months. During his two years in college, he experimented with drugs and alcohol, causing him to be unable to continue with his coursework. Once sober, his parents encouraged him to come to Cincinnati to engage in Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET). Even though this is helping him, he continues to struggle with compulsions, as described here in a typical day:
A typical day for me is, right now is kinda scrambling to put all the thoughts together to make things right. I am very disorganized and I, through the disorganization, I look for any way to make myself feel better, and many ways that is through compulsions. I have been washing my dishes. I usually smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. I've smoked two packs of cigarettes in a day. I go to AA meetings--try to. I play Call of Duty. I read my AA books sometimes, and I just try to sort out my apartment to my best ability to have everything perfect.
Despite these struggles, David is active in trying to maintain sobriety as well as stay on a good path with respect to his treatment regimen. He does not have many friends at present, but does want to connect with others. Consistent with one of the goals of this project, David believes in the value of connecting with others by truly listening to them:
I do believe that…if people would sit down and take the time to listen to somebody, they could fully understand them. And that person is more willing if they know that you understand them and I understand you, they are more willing to put forth more of an effort towards whatever you are trying to achieve.
Listen here to a sound excerpt that includes both "His message" from the top of the page and this commentary.
In the future, David hopes that he will be able to build upon maintaining stable day-to-day functioning in order to achieve broader goals. Listen to David speak about his hopes and dreams here.