Michael Cimino

I reside in an adult home in Suffolk County. I am a 55 year old man who suffers from mental illness.My road to this point is different than most. I grew up on Long Island as normally as can be expected. As I look back now I can remember that I did suffer from bouts of depression. My life continued though.

I worked different jobs that usually lasted about 5 years each. I met a girl where I worked and after a few years we were married and over the next 14 years had 3 sons. I went to college for 10 years during this time and earned two college degrees. My periods of depression came more often and were deeper and deeper.

Also, at this time, my physical health began to deteriorate. I was in 3 terrible car accidents and ended up having two spinal operations. In 1986, I suffered a minor heart attack and in 1990 suffered a second major heart attack that should have taken my life. In 1992, I had surgery on my colon for what up ended up, thank God, being a benign tumor. My physical health continued to deteriorate. Forty-five percent of my heart muscle is dead and the other 55% required open heart surgery in December 2004. In April 2001, I was diagnosed with diabetes. One month later, I was hospitalized, having suffered a severe case of Lithium overdose due to the fact that I had not had my blood levels checked for 18 months. It was at this time that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I believe my physical health is directly linked to my mental condition. Today, I m on 17 different medications. I had to have open heart surgery in 2004 and an implant put in my chest in 2005. I survived all of this including an addiction to pain medication.

I worked very hard for almost 35 years and put a lot of my money into my Social Security Disability. My insurance coverage is with a private HMO as well as Medicare.

Now I am asking for help. Help in erasing the stigma attacking all people with mental illness as well as other disabilities. We need more help in defending our rights under the law. We all need case managers to help us set goals and achieve them. We need more advocates to represent us and push for us. We need advocate peer groups and self-help programs. But in reality, we all know that this cannot happen overnight and without funding.But most of all, all we ask is to be treated as human beings. And being treated in this manner is a God given right.