His Message:
“It’s been a lot of hard times but a lot of good times, too. I wish the best for all the people with schizophrenia and I hope they overcome it, and I hope their life isn’t all bad.”

Listen to an expanded version of Marshal’s message here:

Marshal is a 39 year old Caucasian male living in Independence, Kentucky. He was born on the westside of Cincinnati, Ohio, and spent time both there and in North Carolina before settling in Kentucky. Marshal currently lives with his roommate in a condominium and enjoys movies and family time at the lake.

Marshal was born into a family that includes two sisters. As a young boy, Marshal had a lot of friends, and enjoyed a “good childhood” filled with trips to Kings Island, swimming, and watching movies. In the midst of spending time with friends and participating in various activities, Marshal noticed that he could sometimes be quieter than those around him, and spent time daydreaming. His younger years faced a significant change when his parents divorced, and he and his sisters spent time moving between mother and father.

Listen to Marshal describe his childhood here:

He described himself as sometimes being a good student in school, and occasionally even enjoying it. Other times, however, he struggled with making the grades he wanted and focusing without daydreaming. In high school, Marshal preferred to take honors classes rather than “normal classes,” but he found himself getting grades of C’s. Outside of the classroom, he played basketball for the school team and spent a lot of time reading. After graduating high school, Marshal headed to college, where he began going to parties and drinking alcohol. Still, he felt as if he did not fit in; he felt different than his peers.

Marshal: And I was in and out of college, too. I didn’t meet anybody, know anybody. I was in isolation. I managed to get good grades. I managed to squeak out a two-year degree somehow, but, you know, I was a good student sometimes and sometimes I didn’t, but I managed to do that and—
Interviewer: What was your degree in?
Marshal: Hotels (laughing).

Marshal graduated with a two-year degree, and secured employment. His work was mostly in different areas of the hotel industry, such as helping set up for events, assisting with room service, and even driving a hotel shuttle. Like with his education, Marshal’s work experiences vacillated: he could be Employee of the Month or end up quitting or getting fired.

Though Marshal had, for many years, believed himself to be different than those around him, it was not until he was a young adult with a two-year degree and work experience that he had his first encounter with a psychiatric hospital. In 1998, Marshal was living with his mother in Kentucky and in his words, drinking heavily. It was during this time that he received the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

So, you know, I was there living with her and I was drinking heavy and I started like talking to myself and, you know, it was like in my head, there was like these gangs or something…And there was like a big cult all in my head and everybody was evil and doing evil things and demons and stuff…

One night, the police found him muttering to himself and wandering around a basketball court. They talked to his mother, but Marshal was terrified when, after refusing to go home, he was taken by the police to the psychiatric hospital.

Listen to Marshal’s description of his first interaction with the doctor here:

When he was hospitalized, Marshal was also prescribed medication. At first, he was adamant about not taking it. Once he learned that not taking the medication could result in a return to the hospital, he began to comply. Often, Marshal would not take the medication alone, but would take it as he drank alcohol.

And then outpatient I wouldn’t take my meds, so my mom told on me to the doctor and he told me he’d have somebody pick me up and take me to the hospital if I didn’t comply with it, so I started taking meds. My mom would watch me take them and I used to drink beer while taking meds…

For some time after he was diagnosed and began taking medication, Marshal was drinking to the point of drunkenness. One day, when he had been drinking, Marshal walked into a bank and told the tellers that he was robbing them. After they gave him money, he took a taxi home and was there when the police came. When questioned, Marshal confirmed that it was indeed him who had committed the robbery. His alcohol use was the biggest contributing factor to the robbery; when asked, Marshal said that he robbed the bank when he was drunk.

I did something stupid. I committed a crime. I went by a—went up the street with my bus and I walked in Fifth Third Bank and I told the tellers, “This is a bank robbery,” and they passed me money and then I left and had a taxi waiting and then I went to déjà vu. I—I went home after that and then somebody showed up at the door and it was an undercover cop and he had a picture and he said, “Is this you?” and I said, “Yeah, it’s me,” and it’s just all the drinking and just all the stuff.

After Marshal robbed this bank, he was arrested but given probation. He completed a combination of three alcohol programs of various nature, and once he completed those programs, he went to a homeless shelter. However, Marshal again began to drink alcohol, and shortly thereafter, he robbed a second bank. After robbing the second bank, he spent four years in prison.

Hear Marshal’s description of his second arrest here:

Marshal was placed in a mental health unit where he completed a program and began regularly taking medication again. Following his time in prison, Marshal lived in a halfway house, but was also hospitalized a few times, making for a total of four or five hospitalizations in Kentucky and a few in Cincinnati. He then went to another halfway house, where he did well.

An important support system through all of Marshal’s experiences is that of his family. This includes family members providing him with shelter, helping him find his own housing and a roommate, and spending time with him on trips to the lake. Unfortunately, Marshal’s greatest supporter, his mother, died when he was 26 years old. He commented that the loss of his mother was the hardest thing he has had to face, even harder than the experiences he had while in prison. However, Marshal’s remaining family members continue to be an important and supportive presence in his life, and he enjoys spending time with them, especially with his young niece.

When asked what a typical day is like for him currently, Marshal said that every day is different. Sometimes that involves staying at home spending time with the dogs and listening to music, or going to movies with his roommate. He also participates in Alcoholics Anonymous and some of the opportunities that his group provides, such as volunteering at hospitals. Now sober, Marshal stated that, in addition to Alcoholics Anonymous, his belief in Jesus Christ has helped him with his alcoholism.

While Marshal was at first opposed to taking medication, he now takes it regularly. While he would prefer not to be dependent on medication for the rest of his life, he knows that if he does not take it, he might have an “episode.”

I don’t have any problems with that, so—because I know what happens when I’m not taking them and hopefully there’s not going to be any more episodes…

When asked about his future, Marshal was optimistic.

I’m glad to be out and trying to do good for myself…be responsible, be on my own, you know, work a job and be responsible with money, and you know, that’s big. And one day overcome where I won’t need pills and I won’t need help—all this help.

His dream is to continue to be “good,” especially as a brother and uncle. He desires a life in which he does not need medication or other outside supports, but rather, is able to live independently and do things on his own. In addition, Marshal hopes to attend more social functions sponsored by his Alcoholics Anonymous group, to avoid isolation.

He has bigger dreams, too:

Big dreams, I’d like to be a movie star one day. I’d like to be a musician. I have dreams of that but I don’t know how much talent I have. I’ve never done any acting or any—and I used to like giving presentations in high school sometimes, so—and I chair meetings sometimes at AA.

Marshal felt that participating in The Schizophrenia Oral History Project was a way to show his agreement with the goal of the project. While he still has reservations about committing to things such as volunteering or helping others, he wanted to take this opportunity to give back; his hope was to take responsibility and participate as a way of giving back in some way for all the support he has received. He has had, and continues to have, hard times as well as good times, but he hopes the best for others. Marshal’s wish is this: that other people have lives that are not all bad, and that each person is able to overcome the challenges that may occur with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.