Public Speaking Engagement #1

Posted: September 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

I’ve been asked to speak to a class of psychology students at the local college here in Meadville. The following is a form of questions they provided for me. My answers won’t surprise some of you and my shock some of you. It’s all truth though. Truth sets free. If you don’t believe that, read at your own risk ☺️

Share Your Story-

Here’s some ideas and thoughts to help guide and structure your recovery story:

* Your Name?
Mark Barkley

* Where you live?
Fairweather Lodge group home in Meadville. Moving to Johnstown to start college April 30th

* Where and how you grew up?
All over. 9 schools & at least that many homes in 3 states before I turned 17

* When did you first experience symptoms of your illness?
Bipolar: Around 14, my father was bipolar as well.
OCD: age 5, not long after having scarlet fever. A link to ocd through the virus that causes scarlet fever has been discovered.

What did it look like?
Bipolar: Mood swings throughout most days that affected my energy as well
OCD: Became so afraid of bowel movements that I forced myself not to go, and also became so afraid of getting shampoo in my eyes while washing my hair that my older sister concocted a way to wash my hair with a washcloth to appease me.

* What was your journey?
How much time do you have lol. 9 schools in all. Missed half of grades 8, 10, and 11, and only attended the first day of 9th grade. Yet somehow I was still allowed to pass to the next grade each of those years. I only graduated because of special program last year and a half. I’ve lived at same address more than 2 years only 3 times in my 45 years. Have had at least 40 jobs (as many as 12 w-2s in one year), multiple jobs for 1 day or less. 50 inpatient mental hospital stays, most brief, a few longer including over a year and a half at Warren State Hospital (WSH) from 2011-2013. Plus an RTFA and an LTSR long term programs. Things started getting better for me in November of 2010 when I got approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI). It’s hard to get help without money and resources and I had been out of work for 2 years at that time, so getting disability benefits were the start of my “recovery” (I put recovery in quotes because I have more than recovered. I’ve also uncovered and discovered. All 3 were necessary for me). After getting the SSDI benefits I became able to persist and persist until I found true treatment. That started for real at WSH and progressed a lot in my time there. Of note, and as an example of things sometimes get worse before they get better, I had my only suicide attempt while I was there. That attempt turned into a lot of growth. After discharging from WSH I took some steps backward including a failed move to Texas. Since returning to PA my “recovery” has progressed and progressed to my present stability.

* The ups and downs? Ups: Good grades at school when I went, graduating, holding same job for over 2 years once, getting promoted to management, happily married(briefly), being a father(briefly), same residence over 2 and a half years(my current), numerous nice possessions acquired, nearing 6 years now of correct diagnosis and proper treatment, stability gained. Downs: The opposite. Missing lots of school, failing each job in the end, felony theft by taking money from my employer to pay bills, each marriage ending(4), 3 children- 2 adopted long ago, the 3rd  I haven’t had contact in 6 years. Many broken housing agreements including being homeless briefly, losing all my possessions multiple times, decades being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, losing stability in multiple or every way over and over.

* How do you manage your illness/symptoms? Education, communication, correct diagnosis, proper treatment- including medication, psychotherapy, payee, trusted confidants. All include trials and errors on way to success and in maintaining success.

* What helps you to stay well? All the above with a whole lot of God in the center.

* What are you doing now? About to start college for the first time. That’s real fruit of my labors to get healthy and gain stability the past 6 years.

* What advice do you have for your audience? Speak up. Know it’s not enough to just communicate, you have to communicate effectively. Learn. Be yourself, but be your best self when possible always treating yourself with mercy and kindness when needed. Love yourself the way you do your dearest friend or family member or the way they love you, whichever is greater. Fight, surrender, or just stay still, using what you’ve learned to decipher what’s best. And don’t take it too seriously, it’s just life J


  1. Kayla says:

    It’s so incredible how you are not only pushing through your diagnosis, but being vocal about it to help others! Could you share more about your marriage(s) and those kind of family relationships? Because that’s what i’m Struggling with right now unfortunately 😦

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