It’s easy to be impressed by everything that John Witcher has accomplished. Barely 4 decades into life, and he’s done enough to fill 3 lives: Bachelor of Business Administration, working on his MBA; black belt in Tae Kwon Do, now learning Jiu Jitsu; plays guitar, piano, trombone & saxophone; writes, creates & publishes music; has published 12 stage plays (including “Growing with Albert”, the most popular of the 12); reviews poetry for “Reader’s Favorite; and more. Driven and full of positive energy, John is setting goals, reaching them, and then setting more.
For all John has accomplished, his success at managing his illness and changing his mindset are the most important.
John has schizophrenia. Twenty years ago, he was a young adult who had dropped out of high school, was living at his parents’ home, hoping to move out and become independent. But his mental illness, combined with drug and alcohol use, were too much of a barrier. Being in public was difficult, because he felt self-conscious in public places. A common trait of schizophrenia is paranoia; John felt different from others, and believed even strangers at the mall were judging him because of his illness.
“It’s hard to describe – it was a fear of everything,” he said. “I felt like nobody cared. I had no direction in life. I was at a point where I thought – what can I do?”
In the fall of 1994, John was hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia. “I basically had a meltdown. It was some pretty rough times.”
Fast-forward to today, and you see a man who talks about how blessed he is to have so many people in his life who have cared for him. “They didn’t have to,” he said. “But they took the time to care. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people who cared about me.”
You see a man who lives by the goals he sets for himself. “Setting goals is a positive way to move forward. I discovered, once you achieve a goal and realize you can reach goals, something clicks. Just achieving one goal, your life can change.”
You see a man who not only is successful at work, but is working while going to school for his MBA. “Before getting help, I wasn’t able to hold a job. After getting treatment, I held the same job for 16 years. That speaks volumes.”
John got help at Adult and Child.
John credits the many people at Adult and Child who were involved in his care over the last 20 years with the incredible changes in his life. He has received support from the staff who taught him life skills; from the medical team who helped him identify medications that would reduce his symptoms, and worked with him to manage his medications; from the FACT team, who continues to provide help in identifying community supports and resources that would benefit him; and from the JobLinks staff, who helped him secure employment.
“Adult and Child didn’t just treat the disorder,” said John. “They taught me how to help myself. They taught me life skills and it was a turning point in my life.”
John plans to do more. His goal is to one day develop a scholarship to help people with schizophrenia.
“And I can do that,” he said confidently. “I will get that done.”