, Pat sat close to his sister, Joanne. He smiled and nodded as others looked up to greet him. His sister mentioned that he was writing a book, but little else was revealed about this giant of a man on whom life had left a few lines. Pat is eager to tell you what happened next—what happened the summer of ‘97. These are his words. This is his story. We want to thank him for putting pen to paper and sharing it with us…
by Patrick Quinn
The Veteran’s Administration hospital in Kansas City had no beds available. I wanted to be there—needed to be there. I felt sick—sick to my soul. Depression was a constant in my life, had been for half of my fifty years. I blamed the Vietnam war.
After discharging me for a mental disorder, the U.S. Navy compensated and treated me, but the drugs weren’t working. I took pills for depression, anxiety, epilepsy, and something for my stomach. Tired of it all, I expected them (the V.A.) to fix it and increase my compensation.
My sister, Joanne, moved to Ava, Missouri, from New Jersey in the spring of 1994. We had renewed our brother/sister relationship two years earlier, and I visited her almost every weekend. She said she needed me. She’d just been through surgery and was in the process of healing. So, whenever I had a few days or needed a change, I spent time with her. The weekend before the 4th of July I decided to visit her again.
Having reestablished ties after a twenty year hiatus, Joanne and I shared a lot, at times endlessly. She listened to my story on Friday evening, then mentioned someone she thought could help. She handed me a brochure that detailed an upcoming thirty-three day Intensive.
“What the ‘hey’ is an Intensive?” I asked.
“This place is only an hour’s drive away,” she said as I sat staring at her, scratching my ear. “We can visit Saturday evening in time for dinner. They have the best vegetarian food. Come on. Let’s go. Really! What’s to lose?”
What could I lose?
Over the winding, twisting Ozark roads from my sister’s house to HeartLand, we talked and guessed at what the outcome of our visit would be. How could I possibly afford a workshop? I barely had gas money to get home.
My first encounter with michael brought up issues for me that I can now see were ghosts from my past. He reminded me of a high school teacher with whom I’d had a run in as a young man. ‘Knowing it all’ can be tough on those of us who do, and it took awhile for me to get past my judgment.
michael, Joanne and I sat and talked until dinner. We ate a nutritious meal at the HeartCenter and met the SupportTeam members. After dinner, michael and I talked in depth about the future and about the medication straight jacket I was headed for. The clarity with which he described the Intensive process left me excited. It sounded like I might have a chance to make a real change in my life—to heal.
All I had to do was be willing to work—both on my process and on a variety of projects at HeartLand. Though I had no money, I was invited to join the SupportTeam Super-Intensive on an exchange basis. My exchange for the Intensive would be my skills in maintenance, carpentry, repair, plumbing and electrical.
On the return to Joanne’s, I made a decision. Two days later I returned to HeartLand and began the process of rediscovering my life while receiving the feedback and support that was offered through the program.
That decision changed my life. One of the main things I’ve learned is that happiness is truly a state of mind; and, today, I am the happiest human on earth. I have truly been born again. I feel alive! Life is an adventure! (Phew!) It’s easy for me to become enraptured in these changes. My awareness has made a complete shift. Love, not depression, is foremost in my mind. My dream of change is happening daily. I’ve learned to create.
It’s so joyous to remember the first time I really looked in the mirror.
“Whoa! Who the ‘hey’ are you?” I wondered, staring at the stranger in the glass.
When I arrived at HeartLand, I weighed 277 pounds. I weigh 227 today. I don’t take or need any medication. My complexion is great and my eyes are clear. I have youthed to the point that family and friends no longer recognize me. Joyous tears flow at the miracle I have become. All I had to do was—do it. I had to work the simple tools I found here. Now, I use these tools daily to continue my healing process. As one heals, we all heal.
Well, I’ll close for now. There will be more to come. I’m a work in progress, day-by-day.
Blissed out in HeartLand, Pat