One in four Americans suffer from a mental disorder.  Carol Kivler knows that for a fact!

"I was a part time college professor with three healthy kids and a loving husband, a beautiful home and money in the bank.  Yet, depression brought me to my knees.  I had started experiencing symptoms I didn't have before---sleep disruption, loss of weight, a lot of anxiety, joint pain, pressure in the head.  After seeing a number of doctors, one of them told me I was struggling from a chemical imbalance which had thrown me into clinical depression."

And within three weeks, Carol was in full blown psychosis.  "I had very irrational thoughts and consumed by suicidal thoughts and a plan that I would take my own life and the lives of my husband and children.  I believed we were going to be desolate and lose our house without having any money.  I stopped eating because I thought what kind of mother would take food from their children's mouths.  I was a walking zombie.  I didn't recognize myself in the mirror anymore.  Once I articulated my plan to my husband, the next day I found myself in a psychiatric hospital and was there for 34 days.  They doused me with a medication cocktail that didn't work."

That's when Carol underwent shock therapy.  "It's a therapy that has a very high efficacy rate.  Eighty percent of people that undergo the therapy actually have a response!  It made all the difference in my mind.  Within the third treatment, the doctors could see some life back in the face and in my eyes,"

That was the beginning of Carol's recovery.  "It's not a curable illness.  But, it is a manageable illness if you get the right treatment."

While in recovery, Carol compiled twenty six of her strategies into a guidebook.  "I made some lifestyle changes. I came to recognize that any non curable illness needs a proactive approach.  The therapy, the medication and the shock treatments were not enough.  They were not stabilizing me long enough.  I wanted to sustain my recovery for longer periods so I included things like having a journal, exercise and meditation."

Although it's not easy, Carol encourages people with mental health disorders to get help.  "The first step is the most important step.  I say you don't have to struggle alone.  You have nothing to be ashamed of.  Because of the stigma around mental illness, people struggle way too long than they need to,  There is help out there.  With the right treatment options, there is a brighter tomorrow.  The hopelessness you feel today is temporary.  It is not permanent."   Words of hope from a real survivor!