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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 7/7/2008

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


George Kotwitz's Story

I am 67 years old, and I have been married for 43 years to the most wonderful woman in the world. I have created a living hell for her during my illness but she has stuck by my side. We have three daughters and four grandsons.

I am a graduate of Southern Nazarene University, and had a very successful insurance career for 25 years. I have bipolar disorder, and the mania drove me to the top in my career but almost destroyed me along the way. I hit a downward spiral and lost everything except my family. I was hospitalized nine times during the first 10 years of my illness and was unable to work for 16 years.

I previously had a very strong work ethic but felt I could not give an employer 100 percent, as I was unable to concentrate and went through periods of being unable to understand what I was reading. I lost all confidence in my ability to provide financially for my family, and I learned I could not meet other people's expectations.

Finally, I attended several national mental health conferences and learned that others were able to overcome their illness. I started speaking openly about my illness on both a local and national level, and I serve on two national boards and belong to two national speakers' bureaus.

The empowerment of these activities helped me to go back to work after 15 years on a part-time basis. That position ended as a full-time person replaced me, and once again I wondered if I could ever work again. I decided to give it my best and have not looked back.

I have been able to start my own business and am working again full time. I am once again experiencing success in a field I was not trained for, and I am gaining back my confidence on a daily basis. I am exceeding all my own financial expectations. God has chosen to allow me a second chance, for which I am very grateful.

George Kotwitz

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.