Recently we received an email from someone who enlisted at a young. Within time, he came to learn that he had a disorder that he had to face, in the end making the best out of it. Thank you so much, Mr. Lloyd for sharing your journey with us. When going through changes and challenges, it is always wonderful to see that through moments of darkness, it can bring one to reaching out and helping others.
By ~ Kyle D. Lloyd MHICM Peer Technician
While still a High School Senior at Southern Wells High School, Poneto, Indiana, I enlisted for serving in the US Navy. Due to my high achievement on the ASVAB test scores I qualified for Submarine Service and it was a thrill to go through all the class work and Submarine School at Groton, Connecticut. My home port became Charleston, South Carolina and the USS James Madison SSBN627 became my boat assignment.
I was just 19 years of age and beginning to get my sea legs firmed up and well into my US Navy enlistment when my illness hit me. At the Portsmouth Naval Regional Medical Center I was hospitalized for approximately 9 months and diagnosed with Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder. In treatment, I was stabilized with medications and therapy.
My symptoms included delusions of the "television telling me what to do" and "monitoring my thoughts and holding me hostage to its agenda.”
My recovery was facilitated greatly by personal recognition of positive and negative symptoms associated with my diagnosis and self-realization that indeed I had a mental illness. Denial worked against me for many years after leaving US Naval service and becoming a civilian worker.
The NAMI Peer-to-Peer Course assisted me greatly in developing a recovery plan and taking steps forward that were appropriate for me.
Since entering a program of recovery, I have strongly advocated for others. I have written grant requests in support of fellow peers that were also homeless. I further developed and re-established a new profession for myself in the field as a Peer Specialist or Consumer/Provider.
For four years I served as Chairman for a Statewide Consumer Council and proactively advocated for the passage of our new "Parity Legislation" and other bills to support and protect the rights of individuals with mental health problems.
My personal experiences of stigma and discrimination were often cloaked as "Restructuring or Reduction in Force Layoffs." I overcame these situations with fierce perseverance, bold determination, and absolutely never quitting.
I have actively helped others in their recovery as a Consumer/Provider by providing the services they need to daily live their lives and successfully stay in the community. I am a role model of recovery and I willingly facilitate interested consumers with developing personal Wellness Recovery Action Plans.
Changing the mental health system is an evolutionary process that I am involved with in my day-to-day employment and efforts. The changes that need to happen include eradicating stigma and breaking down all the barriers ignorance and biases have cultivated; also promoting social inclusion, and restoring dignity, to individuals affected by serious mental illnesses with both community and family supports.
Living in the community supports my recovery. Recovery has empowered me to contribute more to my neighborhood; re-entrance with advocacy has been the biggest help. I like to speak up and make my representatives aware of the social injustices I encounter so that accommodations and real changes happen.
I choose opportunities to self-disclose my mental health condition, so that I can remain honest, open-minded, and willing to participate in the reality that is my life. I cannot hide behind anyone or anything anymore and receive validation until I can self-disclose. When I understand that others can be accepting of me, if I allow that, I may change the world by openly sharing who I am.