Timothy Wade feels thankful for the life that he has. He is the father of six children and grandfather to seven. He has three brothers, two sisters, and really good friends. A 70 year-old Caucasian male, Timothy currently lives in the College Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. He enjoys watching sports, eating at his favorite restaurant, and talking. One of the most important elements of Timothy’s life, though, is his faith in God.
As a boy, Timothy attended at least four different Catholic schools, and was in both regular and special education classes, but he was able to earn his high school diploma. When he was 18 years old, Timothy came home from cutting grass to find that his father was lying dead in the middle of the living room floor. He loved his father greatly, partly because he was not very strict, even when Timothy deserved discipline. His father also taught him, by example, a good work ethic. Timothy can easily call to mind the details of the day that his father passed away. At the time, he blamed himself for his father’s death. It was after this that he was first hospitalized.
Timothy: But the fact that I didn’t stay home and cut the grass and my dad was at home and he cut the grass, I felt like he had a heart attack because it was over—it was almost a hundred degrees, and it was so hot, we had to keep taking breaks. And I was only eighteen and my brother was sixteen, and I blamed myself for my dad’s death. So that’s how I went to the hospital.
Interviewer: That’s when things started for you?
One day, Timothy was getting gas when he realized that he did not have his wallet with him. After his tank was filled by the attendant, he drove away from the station, knowing he had money at home. Before he could make it there, though, he was pursued by the cops.
Listen to Timothy describe the day the police chase happened here:
He was admitted to Longview Hospital, which at the time was called Longview Insane Asylum. Timothy remembers the building being old; warm in the winter but unbearably hot in the summer. The food was cooked by some of the other residents, and he can vividly recall one meal in particular, which consisted of a hard baked potato and tough liver. Timothy might have been released after six months of residing at Longview, but when he was completing his lawn mowing job one day, he “took off.” Given six more months, he ended up staying at Longview for almost one year; three hundred and sixty days, to be exact.
Timothy: The–it was a real, real old building. The ceilings were real high and they didn’t have air conditioning back then, so they never-it was hot-you know, in the winter it was warm enough but in the summer it was really bad. The food was cooked by some of the people that lived there, some of the residents-some of the people that were mentally ill, and the food was terrible. I remember one meal that was liver and baked potato, and the baked potato was like a football, it was so hard, and the liver was tough. You know, that’s the one thing I can remember about that.
Since then, Timothy has been in four other hospitals. Following Longview Hospital, he left for Kentucky, where he went to Eastern State Hospital. He has spent time in Rollman’s, Christ, and Good Samaritan, which he liked the most compared to the others. In addition to a diagnosis of schizophrenia, Timothy has bipolar disorder. He views the bipolar as more of a problem than schizophrenia, because he feels that the bipolar is what caused him to try to commit suicide. He attempted this three times, taking whole bottles of Lexapro, Neurontin, and Tylenol Extra Strength. That was in the past, though, and Timothy’s last hospitalization was a few summers prior to his interview.
Outside of his hospitalizations, Timothy worked. For twenty years, he was in the machine shop business, with thirteen of those being at the same job. He also worked at Sunoco, a meatpacking company, and for his brother who raised llamas.
Hear Timothy discuss his favorite job:
For many years, Timothy balanced his work and relationships. In 1975, at the age of 30, Timothy married his first wife. She was 15 at the time, which meant that a guardian had to sign for them to be allowed to marry. Once married, they had two children: a girl and a boy. In 1981, after a relationship started between himself and the babysitter, Timothy and his first wife got divorced. His second marriage was to a woman 19 years younger than him. Timothy and his second wife also eventually divorced, but he still considers her a friend. Currently, Timothy has a girlfriend. He is hopeful, however, that he might get back together with his first wife, who is now his best friend. They see each other often, as she takes him to church regularly.
The only time that Timothy does not feel like attending church is when he experiences spells where he does not do as well as usual. It is not a sudden shift for him, but rather a gradual decline which culminates with him being “really sick” after about two weeks. When this happens, he does not call his family or friends, and opts to stay home all the time. He is on medication, but that has not been without its struggles. He was originally prescribed a high dose of lithium, but it made his hands shake. They have since reduced the dose, and his hands no longer shake.
Timothy: Now, I was taking lithium, 750 milligrams. Before I got on it, my hands didn’t shake. Now my hands don’t shake. We cut it down to 300.
Interviewer: But when it was higher, your hands did shake?
Timothy: Yeah, and I couldn’t write out checks. I had to have the landlord make out the rent. Well, I had to sign my name but it was so sloppy.
Whether he is able to attend church every week or not, Timothy’s faith in God is woven throughout his life. He says that “a person’s not all the way whole if they don’t have God in their life.” When Timothy lived through his suicide attempts, he began to believe that it was because God still wanted him to live. He feels that God has the perfect love, and that miracles still happen today. He also believes that speaking in tongues is evidence that a person has received the Holy Spirit, and he made sure to choose to attend a church that believes in speaking in tongues and that closely follows the Bible. When Timothy needs encouragement to get through a tough time, he watches Christian TV and goes to church, which help him a lot. In addition, he feels that faith correlates with his well-being, and says that the bipolar will begin to have less of an effect on him as he continues to get closer to God.
Timothy: I’ve been in a lot of churches. This church is as solid as the Bible and it’s more accurate than any church I’ve ever been in. Some of the Baptist churches don’t believe in speaking in tongues. This church does.
Interviewer: And you like that?
Timothy: Well, it’s important, right? I mean, you know, if you get—receive the Holy Ghost. People say the Holy Spirit. It’s a spirit anyway. So, if you receive the Holy Ghost, then the evidence of you receiving it is that you speak in tongue. But you don’t have to speak in tongue to get to heaven, and you don’t have to speak in tongue to get baptized. Getting baptized is good because Jesus did it, you know, but I was baptized in Jesus’ name only, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Even though Timothy holds to his faith in God, his life is not without trying times. In today’s world, many struggle with finding affordable healthcare, and/or getting the insurance they need to be able to pay for routine checkups or procedures. Timothy is no exception. He needs new glasses and a visit to the dentist; he has a tooth that constantly hurts, and needs fillings as well. He has additional health needs, such as wanting to get a routine prostate check and colonoscopy. Timothy receives Social Security and has Molina Medicare, but has difficulty finding health providers that work within the network. He stated that if he had Medicaid, the expense would not be an issue. However, qualifying for Medicaid includes meeting certain income requirements, and Timothy “make(s) too much.”
Timothy talks about healthcare here:
Other than a few physical health considerations, Timothy has been doing really well for the past couple of years, saying that he is usually living at one hundred percent. Typically, Timothy starts his morning by drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. Once a day he goes out to eat, usually at his favorite chili restaurant. He then returns home and watches television. As a sports fan, he especially enjoys watching the Cincinnati Reds and the Bengals. A few days a week, he spends time at a day program at a local community mental health agency.
Timothy does not have a job at the present time, but says that he wants one. Though he doubts he would get hired because of his age and diagnosis of a mental illness, he has always dreamt about working as a Metro bus driver. In addition to his dream about driving for Metro, Timothy has goals for his future. One such goal is to stop smoking. He also hopes to start reading the Bible and give the church ten percent of his income each month.
Timothy decided to talk to The Schizophrenia Oral History Project because he thought his story would help people. He feels that the more understanding that individuals have about schizophrenia and bipolar, the better the illnesses can be treated. Through sharing his story, providing financial help to those in need, and sharing words of advice, Timothy tries to do good.
Listen to why Timothy shared his story here:
Timothy’s message is one of love and gratitude. He wants people to know that he loves them—everyone. He is grateful to have made it to the age of 70, since others have not been so fortunate. Timothy is adamant about making known the fact that there is much in this life to be thankful for.
Timothy: See, there’s a lot of things to be thankful for.
Timothy: There really is. Even if you don’t believe in God, there’s so many things to be thankful for.