In His Own Words  – “Now I Run” by Thomas O’Shea

Before I came to Pathway Homes, I was crawling. After coming to Pathway Homes, I began to walk and now I am running both figuratively and literally. Sadly, for many years I was crawling. When I was six years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. At that time, sugar levels were tracked through urine tests that took 48 hours to provide results. I was raised by my grandparents growing up and my treatment was largely trial and error as they estimated the medications.

It was a daily battle to monitor and effectively treat my diabetes. As I grew up, the monitoring improved somewhat with the finger prick blood tests and more recently with the creation of continuous glucose monitors. However, most of my childhood focused on managing my diabetes.

In my early twenties, I began to find it hard to concentrate and I felt like my “brain” wasn’t working right. Human beings are faced with a multitude of decisions every day and our logical “left” brain battles with our emotional right brain. My brain wasn’t processing these decisions correctly. I found it increasingly more difficult to focus and I was experiencing negative thoughts. I had always been a good student, an avid reader and worked as a librarian for many years. However, I began to have trouble functioning at work and in social situations. Eventually, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorderbipolar type. Over the course of my lifetime, the symptoms of my mental illness and my diabetes made my journey a difficult one—I was crawling.

I ended up homeless. I loved to read and would sit in restaurants reading my books until I was asked to leave. I lived in my car and anywhere I could find a spot. I had no money for diabetes medicine nor for medicine to treat my mental illness. One day I had reached my limit and was laying in my car on the side of the road. A police officer came to my car. I told him I needed help. He got me to crisis care and I spent the next several years in and out of hospitals stabilizing my diabetes and mental health symptoms–I was crawling.

Thomas O'Shea standing next to his artAbout four years ago, I came to Pathway Homes. I began to walk. Pathways recognized my intellect and helped me to develop skills so I could manage my physical and mental health on my terms. I have acquired tools to help me understand the structure of my recovery. I use scientific conceptualizations to help me manage my symptoms for both my diabetes and mental health. I work with the nurse and staff to make good nutritional choices and I take anti-psychotic drugs to stabilize my mood and increase my focus. I have room and time to think. I go to the park, the movies and holiday parties. I participate in self-esteem and art groups. For the last two years, I have exhibited in Pathway Homes Summer of the Art Exhibit. In December, I spoke to a group of Prince William County community leaders about my journey so I can help others–I am running.

I recently applied for a copyright on an invention I have been working on for several years called the Diabetes Ring. It cost $169 to apply for this 70-year copyright and in addition to working on this invention, I have been saving funds to make this application. I am anxiously awaiting copyright approval which takes between five and six months. In addition, I continue to work on my business plan and trilogy of my journey with type 1 diabetes and mental illness. My passion for the Diabetes Ring came from my desire to provide better options for those managing the symptoms of their diabetes.

These efforts position me well for a return to the work force. I recently completed the Social Security Ticket to Work program and look forward to joining the work force again. This is the figurative part of running! As I continue to monitor my nutrition, exercise and can meet with my doctor regularly, I now literally walk frequently and have begun running as well. I feel so much better and am more focused allowing me to concentrate on those activities that help me continue to reach my goals—I am sprinting!