Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

'A True Role Model': Jonathan Dupre Uses His History of Mental Illness to Help Others

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

'A True Role Model': Jonathan Dupre Uses His History of Mental Illness to Help Others

Article excerpt

  "I was captain of the track team and ranked eighth internationally. I
was on the honor roll. I was a member of the school orchestra, drum
corps, and playing in a rock band. I had a girlfriend and many close
friends. I was voted 'Ideal Classicalite' (an award presented to one
student from each graduating class who demonstrates superior academic,
athletic, musical, and social skills) by more than 200 of my peers at
Classical High School in Providence, Rhode Island. I had it all, and
then I had my first breakdown."
--Jonathan Dupre

More than 20 years later, it still is traumatizing for Jonathan (Jon) to talk about his mental illness. "It all began the summer after I graduated from high school after just one sleepless night. I became confused, delusional, and paranoid. I told the police, the FBI, and the Secret Service that I was being stalked. I was out of control," recalls Jon. No longer able to deal with the effects of sexual abuse from his childhood, Jon spent the next four months at Bradley Hospital in East Providence, Rhode Island, where he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder which, in his case, presented as a combination of schizophrenia and manic depression.

The next five years were turbulent for Jon. He was in and out of the hospital five times and stopped taking his medication because he could not accept the side effects. "I gained over 120 pounds from the medication," notes Jon. "I hated the way I looked. I lost all my energy and slept a lot. I was facing jail time for vandalizing a car; my friends deserted me; and I felt judged by my mental illness. I was at the lowest point in my life."

Jon walked a hospital corridor as a patient for the last time in 1994, the same year he began treatment at The Providence Center, a community behavioral health center in Rhode Island. At The Providence Center's Independent Living Program, Jon received on-site intensive social and therapeutic services. With the help of his treatment team (a psychiatrist, nurse, case manager, counselor from The Providence Center's Assertive Community Treatment team, and an employment specialist from the Employment and Education Services division), Jon developed a long-term treatment plan and set realistic goals for his future. He participated in group therapy and worked hard on his recovery. He enrolled in Rhode Island College and started attending classes while working various part-time jobs. Slowly, over time, he started to get his life back.

Jon felt safe and supported at The Providence Center and began to believe there was hope for the future. …

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