Today we get to know another member of our This Is My Brave Greenville cast! Say hello to Russell.
I was born in 1955 and grew up in Long Island and New Jersey, the middle of three children. My Mom stayed at home and my Dad was an airline pilot with TWA. I went to college in Colorado, Utah, and Florida. My wife Noreen and I meet in 1981 and were married a year later, our lovely daughter Holly was born in 1986. Throughout our marriage chasing one job or another we have lived in: Florida, England, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Maine and finally South Carolina. My hobbies have centered around sports: skiing, cycling, sailing, racketball, pickleball, and hiking.
Looking back on it, the biggest affect mental illness has had on my life has been my perceived loss of identity over the lifetime ban the FAA imposed on me due to my Bipolar Disorder diagnosis. I had a well paying high profile job (airline pilot) that I enjoyed. In the end it was only a job and only a small part of who I was/am.
One of the best things that has come out of living with mental illness is my appreciation of life itself and how fragile it can be. It has also renewed my faith which now is a pivotal part of my life and well being. I view This Is My Brave as a golden opportunity to both help myself and possibly others. By talking about my very personal experience with mental illness I feel it will be a cleansing process and good therapy.
I have been mentally and physically healthy for over ten years and I plan to stay that way. I feel I owe it to myself, my family and to God. After spending time in two different psychiatric hospitals I find motivation to never return.
I am not looking for sympathy but I hope those in the audience will appreciate my story and perhaps think twice before they label me with preconceived ideas concerning mental illness. I hope that as difficult as it is to share such a personal experience, that my openness can help someone struggling with mental illness. You are not alone in your difficulties, life can be good again.