Lance went the first 30 years of his life not knowing that the negative feelings and emotions he often experienced had a name. At 30 years old, his mental health issues began to really take a toll on Lance’s life, after his band broke up and he got divorced.
“I was seeing a psychologist at the time I had an episode – I got into an altercation at work. I called my psychologist and he told me to check into the hospital.”
Lance spent a night in the hospital, and participated in a 2 week group program there, with no results. He spent the next 15 years going from doctor to doctor, pill to pill, never really figuring out what the problem was. “It wasn’t until I had quit my job and had no health insurance that I was recommended Portage Path by my doctor at the time.”
In 2013, Lance started seeing Dr. Phil Scozzaro at Portage Path. “I finally found someone that knew what was going on and wasn’t just going to throw pills at me. I was at a dead end in my life and when I came here. They got me the right medication and diagnosed me with Clinical Depression and PTSD.”
Lance had experienced physical and mental abuse from his brothers and other family members as a child, followed by depressive episodes in his teens. Dr. Scozzaro suggested that Lance try Pathways, a 14 week intensive program providing a safe, structured environment where individuals can build essential life and problem-solving skills, improve treatment readiness, and regain a sense of hopefulness about the future.
“The changes were night and day. They understand you. It was a really humbling and grounding experience. I felt like I was in the right place.”
After completing Pathways, Lance continued to work in the position he had held for 22 years in construction – a field he had never really wanted to be in in the first place. His treatment allowed him to make substantial progress, but he was still afraid to make the leap into another career he might really enjoy. He knew he needed to make more changes to get his life right. Now at age 51, Lance is learning how to cope and understand his mental illness. He has taken control of his life after attending the Pathways program for the second time.
“I am finding out that I have a co-dependent personality. I would do what everybody told me to do, and never what I wanted to do. I stuck with it for 22 years, but I decided I am not going back.”
Lance made the big decision to go back to school at the age of 51, just in the week prior to this interview. He hopes to earn a degree in a mechanical and creative field, possibly drafting or working with CAD.
“I am going to do it this time for me and not for other people. I admit, I’ve been a problem. I could go back, try and get a job in construction, but it’s not anywhere I want to be. I was always afraid to make that decision.”
“I am learning to give myself credit for my accomplishments and not see everything in black and white. You either win or you’re a failure – that’s the mentality I grew up with and I am working on finding the gray.”
As for his advice to others in his shoes:
“You get what you put into it. I know on day one there isn’t a whole lot of hope. But that hope will come to you. They will make you believe that you CAN change your life. You CAN change your thoughts. You just have to apply yourself, dig deep, and be patient with yourself.”
“I always feel better after talking to Dr. Phil. Even if I am not doing great at that moment, he reminds me of the bigger picture. I definitely recommend this place to friends that express their mental difficulties to me. All of the help I have gotten – it worked! They know what they’re doing.”
Lance has taken control and is rebuilding his own life after finding renewed hope at Portage Path. His goal is to get into a new career and continue to make his mental health a priority. In addition to taking care of himself, he is doing his part to help eliminate the stigma of mental illness by sharing his story. If you would like to share your story, please call Portage Path at 330-253-3100 EXT 1313.