Sitting on the floor of the shower, Keiko McCarroll could see water rising around her and corpses floating atop the waves. She thought she was going die. But in reality, McCarroll was safely sheltered inside Peninsula, a place that specializes in restoration of hope for people who suffer the torment of chronic mental illness. It’s a place for people just like McCarroll.

Through treatment at the hospital followed by counseling at Peninsula Outpatient, McCarroll, who lives in Madisonville, has moved passed the barriers that threatened her sanity. It may be hard for her to look back at who she used to be, but she wants others who have been diagnosed with mental illness to know help is available, and that mental illness doesn’t have to define who you are.

“Learn all about what you’ve been diagnosed with, take your medication as directed every day,” McCarroll says. “And I want them to know that there’s still life out there.”

A desperate situation

Funny, easy going, pleasant and creative are all words that accurately describe this 55-year-old woman of Japanese heritage. None of those words fit the first day she came to Peninsula with a history of mental illness.

“The first diagnosis I had was chronic undifferentiated schizophrenia,” McCarroll says. “In a nutshell it means I have all the symptoms of the different kinds of schizophrenia.”

McCarroll’s second diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Like the first diagnosis, it was an explanation for the variety of symptoms McCarroll was experiencing, including episodes of both mania and depression.

During a hospital stay out of town, McCarroll was taken off her medication and things began to quickly unravel.

Help and Hope

When her thoughts began to turn toward death, McCarroll was transferred from Peninsula to Parkwest Medical Center temporarily for more intensive care. Because Peninsula is a division of Parkwest, the transition was seamless and McCarroll was able to get the care she needed quickly.

After returning to Peninsula McCarroll began a more steady and sure trek toward the person she wanted to be. McCarroll so desperately wanted and needed that life back. A happy, creative life less burdened by mental illness.

After about a week of treatment and finally having received just the right combination of medications, McCarroll left Peninsula’s inpatient facility and began counseling services at Peninsula Outpatient.

There she learned how to cope with situations that sometimes feel like a lead weight on the heart. The anniversary of her husband’s death is a hard time. Dark, cold winter days are difficult. But McCarroll has learned that for every dark day there are brighter days ahead.

Peninsula Outpatient has helped me tremendously,” McCarroll says. “My experience there was very, very wonderful, and I know if I start having a problem with my nerves again I can go there for help.”

With the help of Peninsula, McCarroll’s life has drastically changed.

Some days are still difficult. But McCarroll has the right support, the right medication and the right attitude for pushing through.

“I have a good sense of humor,” McCarroll says with a grin. Then in a more serious moment adds, “It took a lot of years of struggling, but I’m glad I’m the person I am today.”