Cedar Rapids man, 23 years into recovery, shares mental health story in hopes of helping others

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 5:02 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Steve Miller is 23 years into recovery from mental health issues that dominated more than a decade of his life.

Miller’s symptoms started at age 18 and progressively got worse.

”I was having, like, delusions and hallucinations, you know, hearing voices, imagining you’re some kind of religious figure. It was, it was pretty serious,” Miller said.

Miller sought help turning to psychiatrists and trying medications and treatments.

“We didn’t know what to do, we had no mental health in our family at all so we didn’t know anything about it,” Miller said.

Eventually, Miller tried medicines that worked for him and helped get him to the place he is today.

“Things can and do get better. If you’re not happy with treatment now, there’s new things coming out all the time, meds and other types of treatments,” Miller said.

Dr. Alan Whitters, a psychiatrist in Cedar Rapids whose been practicing in Linn County for more than three decades and currently works at the Abbe Center, said the pandemic and the derecho have been particularly challenging for people locally.

“I think COVID and then on top of that with the derecho has been, has hit Linn County very hard,” Whitters said.

As the need has gone up, so have the resources. Several groups came together to open Linn County’s Mental Health Access Center earlier this year. Anyone 18 and older can walk into the building on 13th Street NW, to seek help with no appointment needed.

“People are there to determine evaluation to figure out where do we go next,” Whitters said.

Whitters said there are also newer resources like telemedicine available to people now. In addition, mental health treatments have improved with time.

“Our side effects are better. The efficacy of the treatment for the illness is also better,” Whitters said.

Miller hopes that sharing his story will help get rid of any lingering stigma that surrounds the topic of mental health. He told us even people who are young and seemingly healthy can struggle. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles was a recent high-profile example when she talked about her battles in the recent Tokyo Games.

Miller’s encouraging anyone facing any sort of mental health challenge to seek help.

“I think as hard as it can be for people when they’re struggling, and I understand that. The future I think is bright, I feel like we’re making some headway,” Miller said.

More resources are also becoming available for the families of those with mental health issues. The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Linn County is going to offer classes starting next week aimed at helping the family members of those with mental illness.

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