Patrick's Story

Patrick is a quiet, peaceful man, a gentle soul with a silvery beard and somber blue eyes. He is fond of animals, rarely misses "All Things Considered," NPR's afternoon news program, and enjoys sitting on the porch of his apartment when weather permits.

Patrick's life has not always been on such an even keel, and he is quick to credit the medication and twice-weekly therapy sessions he receives at ATCMHMR's Recovery Center for supporting his progress. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, he has battled recurrent episodes of major depression and a tendency to live in isolation for most of his 56 years.

Even as a child he felt different, and the upheaval that he and his three siblings experienced from a mom with mental illness and a dad with untreated alcoholism was often troubling and painful. To make matters worse Patrick stuttered, and was a self-described outcast starting in elementary school. "I saw many school counselors and private therapists," he says, "but then I would go right back to my home environment and the problems would start again."

By the time he was eighteen he was being hospitalized regularly for depression. He worked as a dishwasher, janitor and landscaper, but his mental illness and a debilitating joint disease made holding a job difficult. Occasionally he was homeless. He was put on many medications, but found that they often had overwhelming side effects. Personal relationships were difficult and he had few friends.

Things started turning around when Patrick moved to Austin and began being seen at ATCMHMR in the early nineties. There were a few false starts, but being stabilized on medication made a huge difference. He has lived in a comfortable apartment supported by a Section 8 Subsidy for the past nine years, and he started taking classes at the Self Help Recovery Center (SHAC), where he was able to take computer training and an art class. He is currently enrolled in a twice-weekly group therapy at the Recovery Center, where he is learning to address his shyness and work on being more sociable.

"I see my life as a journey," he says. "There have been many detours and I am still taking one day at a time, but I feel that help is available. The important thing is that now I know now where to turn for help."

 If you or a loved one needs, help, call the 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 512-472-HELP (4357) or visit for more information.