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Help Dennis Conrad Recover

Organized by: Kristen Conrad

Kristen's Photo
Kristen's Photo
Kristen's Photo
Kristen's Photo
Kristen's Photo
 

Kristen Conrad via Crowdrise
September 01, 2015

The benefit date has been set! October 25, 2-6 PM. Please visit this link for details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1485136831807291/ See More

THE STORY:

My dad, Dennis, is one of my best friends. He is funny, caring, and hard-working, and is the type of person who has always helped others in their times of need. He has had a very severe struggle with bipolar disorder that intensified over the past year, creating a dire financial situation for my parents. Our family and friends have banded together to plan a benefit for him, hoping to raise money that will help pay his past and current medical bills and prevent foreclosure on my parents' home of 30 years while his permanent disability application is in process. I am hoping that this CrowdRise campaign will help with that effort as well as raise awareness of how a mental disorder can truly impact a family.

I never saw any signs of mental illness in my dad when I was growing up - in fact, I was blessed to have two amazing parents who were a great example of a strong work ethic, charity and humility. He worked as a diesel mechanic for many years, mostly working night shifts and taking on extra small jobs during the day.  He was never too busy, however, to lend a hand to neighbors or volunteer as a youth hockey coach.

In the early 2000s, he switched to a teaching position at his alma mater, which had been a dream of his. I had the pleasure of shadowing one of his classes when I went home to visit during my college years - his students seemed to love his class and teaching style. The job seemed to cause some stress for him, as he felt completely responsible when a student wasn't performing well in the class.

In 2007, his stress and anxiety triggered a breakdown. He was committed temporarily and diagnosed with major depressive disorder. There is a history of mental disorders in his family, especially in his father, but the diagnosis was surprising to everyone since it seemed to appear so suddenly.

Over the next few years, medication seemed to stabilize him and he was able to return to work, though he decided to switch jobs and go back to a non-teaching position. Following the death of his mother a few years ago, he had another major breakdown. Since that point, the right combination of medications seemed to be hard to find, and he had a series of episodes that seemed to be only months apart. Leaves of absence from his job were necessary, and despite insurance, large medical bills accumulated.

In October 2014, he was again committed after a severe breakdown. He was then diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which seemed to better fit the pattern of behavior we had seen over the years. Unfortunately, as with most mental illnesses, there is no easy way to determine what medications will be a perfect fit for an individual's brain. My dad and his doctors struggled to find the right combination to no avail.

In March 2015, he attempted suicide via overdose, and was lucky to have a fairly speedy recovery. In April 2015, he attempted suicide again by slitting his wrist with a circular saw. No one predicted his survival - including the first responder who called in a likely DOA - but somehow he pulled through. I can't speak for anyone else in my family, but the worst, scariest moment of my life was waiting by the phone to get the confirmation that my dad was dead. Thankfully, that call didn't come.

We are so lucky that he survived, and perhaps just as lucky that his new doctor has found a combination of medications that seems to work for him. He is participating in physical therapy to regain movement in his left wrist and hand. When I talk to him now, I can see his "old self" starting to re-emerge, and I'm so grateful for that. We are all trying to help his emotional recovery, and we have a great support system.

What we can't directly help with is the financial burden this situation has caused. Medical bills total over $50,000, and my parents can't survive on my mom's salary alone while the disability application is in process (which could potentially take an entire year or more). Despite my mom's severe Crohn's disease, she is committed to continuing to work to support them as much as possible. They refuse to take money from my brother and me, so I'm extremely grateful to friends and family who are helping us to raise money in addition to providing emotional support along the way.

What is important for me to clarify is that the person who attempted suicide is not who I know my dad to be. This disease and others like it take over every aspect of the victim's life - their thoughts, actions, speech, etc. It not only tears apart that person, but is painful for everyone who loves them as they are relatively powerless to help. About a year ago, we saw an example of that in Robin Williams - a seemingly happy-go-lucky man who struggled on the inside with severe depression, whose loved ones experienced terrible heartache when he took his life. My sincere hope is that we reach a point when mental illnesses cannot cause such anguish for anyone.

As a way to progress toward that ideal, my family and I are pledging that any funds raised that are above and beyond what is needed for my dad's financial and medical recovery will be donated to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. This foundation awards scientific grants to those working to make discoveries in understanding the causes and improving the treatments of mental disorders, and has been rated as a highly impactful organization.

Thank you so much for reading our story, and for donating or sharing with your friends and family.

 

Sincerely,

Kristen

DONATE

To This Fundraiser

$6,975

 

12% Raised of $60,000 Goal

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  • Steve & Chelsea McFarland

    $100

  • ServiceMaster Quality Restoration

    $1,000

  • Bryan Evans

    $50

  • Mat Kramer

    $100

  • Steve and Nancy McFarland

    $1,000

  • Matt Rathke

    $30

  • O'Brien Family

    $100

  • Anonymous

    $100

  • Emily, Paul Sr, Cindy, and Paul Jr Rossi

    $50

  • Sue and Michael Paolucci

    $100

  • Heather Barnes

    $75

  • Sarah and John Farrar

     

  • Kellyn & Patrick LaLiberty

    $200

  • Alia and Matt Sanders

    $50

  • Mark Bookhagen

    $100

  • Kathy Brazil

    $50

  • Frank and Jen

    $250

  • The Nelson Family

    $100

  • Tim Pauline & Curran McNamara

    $200

  • Terry Conrad/Rachel Ziegler Sheridan

    $75

  • Bays Family

    $50

  • Christine and Mark Johnson

    $100

  • kim & john

    $100

  • Lucy & Peter Guidotti

    $1,000

  • Neighbors Don and Sue

    $200

  • Jeannie and Bob Fallon

    $100

  • Lynn

    $20

  • Danielle Vaccaro

     

  • John Amico

    $25

  • Our Thoughts are with you all!

    $100

  • Apogee Telecom

    $500

  • Jake Fabian, Brandon Myszka, Matt Taylor, and Joey Pezzino (hockey team)

    $250

  • David Langa

    $25

  • Anonymous

     

  • Julie Galante-Fox

    $100

  • Don Kolniak

     

  • Louis Ondrasek

     

  • Anonymous

     

  • Anonymous

     

  • Anonymous

    $50

  • Kathee Sive

    $50

  • Jackie Yarnes

    $25

  • Cheryl (Wild) Hayes

    $25

  • Anonymous

    $100

  • Anonymous

     

  • Anonymous

    $100

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Organized by

Kristen Conrad

This is a direct to organizer fundraiser.

Donor Comments

Anonymous

ANONYMOUS

DONATION: $100

Dennis is one of the best people I've ever known. I was just thinking about him the other day, truly. I'll have to see how I can get in touch. The guitar teacher!!!! 2 years ago

Anonymous

ANONYMOUS

Hi Kristen, I read your story and I am heart broken for you and your family. I can't imagine what you have been through... Don't give up hope and always have faith. I just lost my daddy to suicide without any warning in July. The pain is unlike any other. I will pray for your daddy to get the help he needs from medicine and from God to help find his way back out of the darkness. 2 years ago

Anonymous

ANONYMOUS

DONATION: $100

Dennis, i love you and I loved working with you at the college! You were one of my favorites and I always looked forward to your early morning voiceMail messages. I too struggle with depression. I had to retire last fall because the stress was too much for me and it was affecting my physical health. Please know that you were an amazing professor! I wish you peace and happiness. 2 years ago

Cheryl (Wild) Hayes

Cheryl (Wild) Hayes

DONATION: $25

Thoughts and prayers are with you! 2 years ago

Jackie Yarnes

Jackie Yarnes

DONATION: $25

2 years ago

Kathee Sive

Kathee Sive

DONATION: $50

God Bless you all 2 years ago

Anonymous

ANONYMOUS

DONATION: $50

2 years ago

Anonymous

ANONYMOUS

2 years ago

Anonymous

ANONYMOUS

2 years ago

Louis Ondrasek

Louis Ondrasek

2 years ago

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