Behavioral Health – My Life Today

The Story of Adam

Adam was 13 years old, living with his mother, step-father and 2 siblings. Adam’s family had been afraid of him since the age of 10.  His mother and step-father took turns not sleeping in order to keep an ear on him during the night for fear he would become violent and attack the wall, someone asleep in the home, or attempt to kill himself.  Almost daily, Adam threw furniture, hit walls, threatened others, threatened to kill himself, isolated himself from peers and family, made poor grades at school, had poor school attendance and then would sob with remorse for his behaviors after he wore himself out from the episode.  After seeking help through his PCP, several psychiatrists, and 3 inpatient hospitalizations, Adam’s family located LifePath Systems.
Adam and his mother reported the above behaviors as well as symptoms of sadness, feeling worthless, feeling hopeless, feeling as if “I’m not normal”, and excessive worry about adult topics such as current wars, world destruction, political conflicts, poverty, starvation, homelessness.  Adam also reported problems sleeping because of vivid and gruesome dreams about his family or himself being tortured and/or killed.  His mother reported he is also one of the most caring and loving children around, is very intelligent, creative and artistic, but when a “mood” comes, it is as if a switch has been turned on and nothing can stop the flow of negative behaviors.

After many incorrect diagnoses and treatments elsewhere, Adam was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at LifePath Systems.  He and his mother were educated about this disorder and he began the appropriate medication therapy.  Additionally, he learned skills to manage his symptoms and behaviors and began accepting the illness as part of his life. Adam, his family, and his teachers all report improvement in all areas of Adam’s life.  His family wishes someone had identified the diagnosis sooner, but until receiving services at LifePath Systems, he had only been treated for depression and oppositional defiance.  No one had even suggested Bipolar Disorder.

Adam, now 14 years old and a freshman in high school, is a member of the basketball team, has made friends, is passing all his classes, has developed a sense of self, and is proud of his accomplishments.  Adam has a girlfriend (several other young ladies interested in him as well), attends school social functions and is willing to try new things.  Adam’s family is overjoyed at “getting our son back”.

The Story of Bob

Bob came to LifePath Systems from the streets of McKinney.  He was 41 years old and had been sleeping on benches and behind restaurants for many months – possibly years.  He had been arrested and/or hospitalized numerous times due to his psychiatric symptoms.  He was not willing to continue the medication management of his psychotic symptoms once released from jail or the hospital.

Bob was observed living on the streets of McKinney by a LifePath Systems employee and was referred to the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant funded Permanent Supportive Housing Program at LifePath Systems for chronically homeless and mentally ill individuals in Collin County.  Bob was willing to receive the housing services which included case management services, an apartment, food, furniture, clothing, and medical and dental services, but he refused psychiatric treatment as he did not believe that he needed it.  While the housing program improved the quality of his life, he remained very paranoid and preoccupied with other psychotic symptoms that made his life and ability to live independently very difficult.  At one point, Bob’s symptoms became so severe that the SWAT team came to his apartment and fortunately, took him to the hospital rather than to jail.  He was then transferred to the state hospital where he stayed for many weeks and was started on psychiatric medications to address his symptoms.

Upon his return to LifePath Systems and the housing program Bob’s psychiatric symptoms were stabilized, however, he was very sedated and inactive.  Bob finally expressed that he did understand that he needed and wanted ongoing psychiatric treatment.  Over the course of the next few months he regularly attended his appointments with his psychiatrist, began to develop a trust with his treatment team, and his medications were adjusted in order to keep his psychiatric symptoms stabilized while improving his energy level.  Bob started to become more lively, interact with others, and go out more.  This improvement continued to the point where he recently went on vacation out of town, including flying to another state, staying in a hotel, and getting to and from the airport on his own.  He had a good time.  Bob is now able to live a normal life, with friends, social activities, and safe place to call home.  Simple things in life that some may take for granted, but can be so difficult for those with a chronic mental illness to attain without adequate resources and the persistence of professionals that believe change is always possible.