Our Story: Before SeizingPsych
Will was a gifted student and athlete, not to mention a social butterfly throughout his high school career. He held titles as the varsity team captain of lacrosse and cross country, student representative on the Harford County Board of Education, and National Honor Society President, as well as having maintained positions in up to six offices. A graduate of Harford Technical High School, he looked foward to a full 4 year scholarship to John’s Hopkins University to pursue politics. A brother and son, he was an active member of our family with a bright future ahead of him, he hoped to one day run for president.
Unfortunately, Will only attended one year at Hopkins. Not long after he started at the university, he began with many strange accusations and beliefs. He blamed our father for poisoning our dog, and claimed that someone was injecting meth into his lizard. He believed he had both gangrene and AIDS and refused to drive above 10 mph. His grades fell to failing and the dean of the university called home expressing concerns. We thought he was trying to be funny, but we could not understand why he would jeopardize his future and relationships with family and friends in the process. Then, one morning, we got a phone call at 5 AM. Will was standing in front of his car, more frightened than we had ever heard before: He was sure someone had stolen his car then brought it back, parked it in exactly the same spot he had, flattened his tires, put sugar in his gas tank and run off, only to return at that moment, watching and stalking him, out for him. His paranoia and delusions lead him to legitimately fear for his life. We told him to go to the counselor’s office where he was later referred to the emergency room. At the hospital we received the first of over 45 diagnoses of schizophrenia. It was obvious that the voices in his head insulted and aggravated his every waking moment. Unable to fill out a job application or even cook a grilled cheese sandwich, he was dependent entirely on his family. Living with a single mother there was little to no income as his safety became among a top concerns for our family. Will was treatment resistant and most of his prescriptions provided only limited relief from his symptoms, if any at all.
Eventually, Will began treatment at the National Institute of Mental Health where he underwent a six month suicide watch. At the time, four types of schizophrenia were recognized by the diagnostic manuals and he displayed symptoms of all of them. Voices told him that his family had been murdered and that he should kill himself - if he didn't do it, then they would. When nothing else would
help, doctors at NIMH prescribed clozapine, a medication usually considered a last resort in the US. Finally, on clozapine, Will found some sanctuary from his delusions and hallucinations, and was released from NIMH after staying for the longest duration patients are allowed as research participants. From NIMH, Will moved to a rehabilitative group housing facility called Alliance and began participating in research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. During his stay there he began taking one course every semester at a local community college, and worked to recognize his stressors and triggers.
Today, Will has graduated from the Alliance housing program and is still working toward an English degree. He lives with roommates who have also been diagnosed with a mental illness and have graduated from the Alliance program. He still receives care from the Alliance psychiatric rehabilitative program and from MPRC. He takes his medication by his own accord on a daily basis, has made the Dean's list every semester, and remains an inspiration for SeizingPsych and his family.