My Story of Defeats and Successes
by Mike Gladu

Dear Katsumi,

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Compeer picnic. I have to say you and Jim Gottstein have been very talented and innovative at creating the Computer Connection organization and web site for the mental health community and consumer. Thank you for the invitation to submit a letter about my story as a mental health consumer.

Every story should have a meaning and purpose on what the writer wishes to translate and I will have to think about that one. One thing I do believe is that God wants us to accept challenges and strive to be the most we can in life regardless of the stigma and losses that occur when one has been afflicted with a mental illness or any disease or handicap.

As one who had been hospitalized several times in the 70's and 80's with a serious mental illness, I have learned that there probably will not be a complete recovery in my case. The pain of mental illness is very real and can not be attributed to a behavior. I do the best I can with it, have become self aware of warning symptoms and work together with my doctor to try and keep it in remission. Also, I stay busy.

I've worked for 12 years at Alaska Psychiatric Institute in the maintenance dept. specializing in refrigeration, HVAC and general repairs. I studied my trade for 2 years at the community college in Palmer, Alaska. There have been tremendous strides over the last several years in the quality of patient care at API.

Also, I believe in the rewards of volunteerism. Compeer is a program that has many rewards for people in the community and the ones they have befriended that are afflicted with a mental illness. There is not enough good that can be said about someone who has chosen to become a friend of a mentally ill person. The mentally ill are so often chosen as outcast in the community, that's why becoming a Compeer is such an honorable endeavor. Since the loss of my own Compeer, the late Walter Smigon, who was my dear friend for over 10 years, I learned just how important friends are. It has been an honor for me to serve as Compeer Advisory Board president at Southcentral Counseling Center for the last three years.

Hobbies keep me busy when I'm not working, besides my lovely wife Willene, photography and music are one of my greatest loves. I would like to share the link to my online photo site of wildlife and scenic photos, Picture Safari-

I also work and volunteer as a part time karaoke DJ, recently we had a very nice karaoke event for Compeer and other clients at Southcentral Counseling Center out at the Birchwood Lodge. I enjoy playing harmonica and I'm learning the Native American flute.

Well, that's all about me Katsumi, keep up the good work you're doing, knowledge and self- empowerment are so important.

God bless you,

Mike Gladu