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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration


Last Updated: 7/7/2008

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)

 

George Kotwitz's Story

I am 67 years old, and I have been married for 43 years to the most wonderful woman in the world. I have created a living hell for her during my illness but she has stuck by my side. We have three daughters and four grandsons.

I am a graduate of Southern Nazarene University, and had a very successful insurance career for 25 years. I have bipolar disorder, and the mania drove me to the top in my career but almost destroyed me along the way. I hit a downward spiral and lost everything except my family. I was hospitalized nine times during the first 10 years of my illness and was unable to work for 16 years.

I previously had a very strong work ethic but felt I could not give an employer 100 percent, as I was unable to concentrate and went through periods of being unable to understand what I was reading. I lost all confidence in my ability to provide financially for my family, and I learned I could not meet other people's expectations.

Finally, I attended several national mental health conferences and learned that others were able to overcome their illness. I started speaking openly about my illness on both a local and national level, and I serve on two national boards and belong to two national speakers' bureaus.

The empowerment of these activities helped me to go back to work after 15 years on a part-time basis. That position ended as a full-time person replaced me, and once again I wondered if I could ever work again. I decided to give it my best and have not looked back.

I have been able to start my own business and am working again full time. I am once again experiencing success in a field I was not trained for, and I am gaining back my confidence on a daily basis. I am exceeding all my own financial expectations. God has chosen to allow me a second chance, for which I am very grateful.

George Kotwitz


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