“To Hope Again”

By Rebecca Phillips

I grew up in a wonderful home with parents who loved me.  I attended good schools and seven years after I was born, my sister Laura came along.  I was always involved in school activities and I remember smiling in most of my pictures growing up.

 In 1986, my family moved to Topeka, Kansas where my dad got a job teaching at Washburn University.  I attended a private school where I made friendships I have kept for years.  I excelled in school and performed in musicals and plays, had a babysitting business, organized some school activities and just really did a lot with my time.  At age fifteen I received a book contract with Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville for a book of prayers I was working on for teen girls.  I was busy to say the least.

In my junior year of high school I started struggling with depression.  I started to be more introspective and started struggling with paranoid thoughts.  I was angry at myself and I didn’t know where to turn with these distressing emotions.  My parents drove me to Kansas City where I was hospitalized at a psychiatric hospital.

I graduated from high school in 1993 and went off to college at Kansas State University.  I couldn’t handle the stress of school, however, and I roamed around campus and lost a lot of weight.  I slept in a bathroom in one of the buildings one night and couldn’t keep up with any school work.  I called my dad and my mom came and picked me up from school and I withdrew from the university.

I cut on myself and my parents called a hospital they had heard good things about in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I was admitted.  I thought I was a failure for quitting school and I read specific Bible verses I thought pertained to me that had to do with my destruction and punishment.  I couldn’t get up out of bed and I was so angry with myself and I couldn’t function.  I was at the hospital for several weeks and was put on Risperdal a new antipsychotic medication that had just come on the market.  I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.   I improved and came back home to Topeka.

I struggled off and on with my paranoid thoughts and delusions and depression.  I worked at different places and even though I had a two book contract with the publishing company which published my first book I couldn’t get my thoughts together to put together another book.  My words were often bizarre and my thoughts tormented me.  I was hospitalized about ten times throughout my twenties and early thirties.

 In 2006, I hit a low point and I threw all my medication down the toilet.  I tried to sell my car and my laptop and I tossed my living room furniture in the dumpster in the apartment complex where I lived.  I thought my neighbors were out to get me and I called the police and my leasing manager.  I was terrified and I slept in a parking lot nearby one night because I believed I was unsafe in my apartment.

 A lot of scary things happened during that time and my sister and mom came to my apartment in February of 2007 to take me to a hospital they had researched and heard good things about.  I didn’t want to go with them.  I thought they were going to send me to a prison.  I thought I was a criminal.  My sister sat in front of my bathroom door and said she really wanted me to go with them and that if I didn’t she might have to call the police.

I didn’t want that to happen so I made the decision to go with them.  The people at the hospital were very kind and judgmental.  The doctors observed me for a couple of days and then asked if I just wanted to take an injection–no pills.  I thought about it for a brief time and thought that was a great idea.  So in Feb. of ’07 I started a new medication–Risperdal Consta an injection I have taken every two weeks since then.  I haven’t missed  a single dose.

That really started my amazing recovery.  I still struggled with lack of motivation at times and paranoid thoughts but I was finally in control of my horrific symptoms and I felt happy again.  I started seeing a social worker for therapy and I started attending groups at a local mental health center.  Later into my recovery They even asked me to be in a commercial about the center to talk about how much the people there had helped me.

  I was approached by a pr person at Janssen Pharmaceuticals to be in a national documentary about my illness schizophrenia.  I have been to Washington D.C. for the film premiere, to Manhattan, NY, to Chicago and to Sacramento to promote the film and talk about my story.  I also started a community blog for the online newspaper in the city where I live and I have written shorter pieces for magazines and newsletters.  I advocate now for mental health issues and funding and I stand up for those who go through what I have been through.

I know that my family is proud of me and my sister and mom have been a major part of my recovery and the secret to my success.  My faith also plays a huge role and my friends who have always been there for me.  I will never give up and I have consciously made the decision that no matter how bad the intrusive thoughts are at times I will not kill myself.  I know that I have come so far and I know that I have reached out to many others with the story that I call my own.  I know that schizophrenia is not a death sentence and I see it now as a gift.  I see it as a gift to connect with others and reach out and help others who need it.  I will never give up and that gives me hope.


Rebecca Lyn Phillips is an author and public speaker.  Her book “Heart to Heart: a devotional for teen girls” was published in 1994 by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  She has been in a national documentary about her schizophrenia called, “Living with Schizophrenia:  a Call for Hope and Recovery.”  It can be viewed at the website http://www.choicesinrecovery.com.  She also writes a blog as a community blogger forhttp://www.cjonline.com called “Heart of Topeka:  People Who Care.”  She advocates fro those with brain disorders and believes that there is always hope for those who have been diagnosed with a mental health issue.