Chad’s story is one of a boy with tremendous goals fueled by incredible potential. It's also that of a young man who knew and appreciated his gifts, yet ultimately became frustrated, growing to believe those gifts were rapidly slipping away and would never be utilized in the way he had dreamed.
Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness"
a documentary film by Shellie Hart and Ethan Cox, courtesy Hubbard Radio.
Watch the documentary here:
Meanwhile, Chad found a centering place in sketching. Without any formal training, his art became as beautiful and wondrous as his theories of space and creation. But as Chad’s curiosity grew and his artistic and scientific gifts matured, another part of Chad slowly emerged.
Chad excelled in artistic creativity, but also showed a scientific curiosity and innate understanding of the complex reaches of our universe. As he matured through middle school, it became evident he was destined to use his mathematical and scientific prowess to reach great heights as an adult. Chad was thrilled to be accepted into Aviation High School, a highly sought after Seattle area STEM high school where he began his Freshman year with excitement and great expectations. His ultimate goal was to eventually become a mechanical engineer and land an engineering job with NASA. He dreamed of helping to develop the next generation of propulsion and was already conceptualizing faster than speed of light travel, utilizing artificially manufactured black holes as a “towing mechanism”. Chad even postulated as to the type of particle a spirit might be made up of and how that might enable interdimensional travel.
In his junior year of high school, he complained of increased focus challenges and felt that he occasionally lost moments of time out of his day. He was soon diagnosed with ADHD and navigated the rest of his junior and senior year with those challenges moderately managed. Chad was then accepted into the engineering program at Montana State University. There, he admittedly struggled in his freshman year of college with increased focus issues, along with emerging issues he was uncomfortable speaking about to anyone - including his own parents. He returned to Seattle at the end of his freshman year of college and rejoined his family at home, hoping to find a path beyond his inner struggles and eventually return back to Montana State University.
At 20 years of age, Chad shared for the first time that he had been hearing voices. Most of the time, they were benign, but occasionally were not. His psychiatric care began almost immediately, but just before his 21st birthday, Chad was admitted into the psychiatric unit at the University of Washington, plagued with depression and suicidal thoughts. Chad was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and went on medication in an attempt to quell the voices that plagued him day and night. The elevated urgency within his care plan brought optimism for improvement.
After numerous dose adjustments, a change in medication, as well as information he researched online himself, Chad began to question if his battle was to ever even slightly improve, let alone become well managed. It appears to us now that he made a decision pre-holiday, 2015 that this was a battle he would not win. He waited through the holidays and past his siblings' January birthdays and in the early morning hours of January 21st, 2016 chose to free himself of a disease that he saw in the same way an Olympic athlete might see being confined as a quadriplegic in a wheel chair; his gift, just beyond his reach at all times.
We lost Chad, in spite of ensuring he had the best care available. We lost Chad in spite of the loving relationships that surrounded him. We lost Chad in spite of a willingness in us to adjust approaches and constantly look for better ways to support him. The cavernous grief and guilt in our loss is a product of the demons that plagued Chad within a mental illness called Schizophrenia. Without hard work to eliminate stigma, improve access to care and advance research to better treat mental illness, many others will continue facing demons and battling in this way. Some will lose their battle like Chad, but some will merely find a way to survive.
Neither is a viable option to us, though and that is why we fight.
That is our calling.
That will be Chad's Legacy.
An excerpt from the 2016 King County Behavioral Health Legislative Forum. Todd and Laura Crooks share their story and
"What Brings Us Here".
On October 5th, 2017 KOMO News4 aired a story covering the 2017 Washington State Mental Health Summit, where 120 invited key stakeholders came together for the first time to develop plans to transform the world of Mental Health in Washington. As a result, improvements and new innovations are in the process of being implemented now. over 550 stakeholders from the greater Washington Mental Health community will converge on the UW campus on October 29th, 2019 for a much larger, third summit.
Visit www.wamhsummit.org for detailed information on the Summit.
Click here for the KOMO News story by Molly Shen.