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More voices of recovery: Cynthia Lott Vogel

Posted Jul 22 2013 4:12pm

I have not known Cynthia long, but in a very short time have become convinced she is one of the most courageous people I know. With every reason to quit she hasnt. And her message is clear. We dont have to either. I hope you enjoy her story.

Larry has asked me to tell you something of my story, “In 600-800 words.” Currently I am working on a book telling my story-and even in 300 pages it is tough to fit enough in to given an accurate picture. I became mentally ill when I was 18 in my freshman year of college. That began a chain of events that lasted about 15 years-which were fifteen years of hell. I had over 30 hospitalizations. Almost all were longterm…Hearing voices and struggling with a suffocating depression I bounced from one hospital to another, trying desperately to retain my independence and earn a living in between.

Eventually, my struggle to live on my own ended when, after a six month long hospitalization, I was forced by the mental health system to go into a group home for people with schizophrenia And that’s what I was told I am…but I had great difficulty believing it. Up until actually, about a year ago, I felt that I’d been misdiagnosed. (I am now almost 49 years old.) This denial is common in this illness and it leads people such as me, to stop taking their medicine, believing they are well, and precipitating yet another psychotic episode.

There seemed to be no medication which h could help me or alleviate my psychosis or my depression. I’d tried them all. However, after leaving the group home to get married to a man I’d met in a hospital, and deciding to become pregnant, my doctor put me on a then-new med, called Loxipine, telling me that it was the safest one to take during pregnancy. It seemed to work extremely well, even at the low dose I took while pregnant. So for the next 14 years of running a home and raising my daughter, I remained fairly stable. Although I struggled with some major, life-threatening illnesses and for a period of two years was wheelchair bound, the only real symptom I had of MI was some paranoia. Eventually, I decided that I was “cured” and went off the meds.

I remained okay for about a year…and then, living in PA and working as a hospital Unit Secretary, I became very “intense” about things…I embraced a raw vegan diet and spent hundreds o f dollars per month on produce, most of which went uneaten. I was extremely involved in a prayer ministry for my church and for my family…often spending night after night up and praying for those I loved, at times seeing visions and having visitations from supernatural beings.

My marriage, which had always been “challenging,” suddenly, seemed to be a threat to my life. I filed for an Order of Protection against my husband and got into my car, after packing up all the furniture and my belongings and putting it into storage and then taking off in my car…I traveled through three states, becoming more and more terrorized, believing my husband was in pursuit of me and was stalking me – with intent to harm. However he was at home, with a broken, wounded heart over what I’d done.

Finally, I checked into a motel room, unknown to anyone…and made a major suicide attempt. God’s Grace spared my life. And I ended up in a series of six hospitalizations…having ECT and suffering great memory loss as a result. Finally, my doctor told my husband I was “hopeless” and that I belonged in an long term state hospital. Preparations were made to send me there. But a last ditch medication change seemed to bring me back somewhat to reality. The hospital agreed to discharge me to the care of my husband.

For months I sat In a recliner in my bedroom and stared at the walls…getting fatter and fatter, feeling more and more hopeless.. Finally I decided that there MUST be a combo of meds which could help me to regain my zest and energy…and I carefully researched online all the different possibilities. I came up with a list of possible meds and presented them to my psychiatrist…She agreed to try them and within a few weeks, I was once more feeling more like myself. However, the cognitive difficulties remained…as did, obviously…the physical illness and disability.

I suffer from a severe form of a degenerative arthritis, similar to rheumatoid arthritis, and have had to have three major hip replacement surgeries and am scheduled for yet more joint replacements. My spine is hopelessly destroyed by the effect s of this disease…and I am pretty much homebound and in constant severe pain. But I have regained my will to live and my clarity of mind…and my faith in God keeps me strong and persevering.

I have found a publisher who wants to publish my story and am now working hard at it. I hope that my story may help and encourage others who have been labeled “hopeless” – and their family member as well. I still suffer from constant hallucinations, yet can now recognize them for what they are and manage, pretty much, to ignore them. Go d has been good to me and brought me out of great darkness and given me great treasure as a result of my suffering. Please visit my blog, “Treasures from Darkness “ at : .

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