Seventeen years ago, Carol Kivler lived in dread of her sleepless nights, inability to concentrate, and marathons of obsessive thought, which drove her to exhaustion and despair. After being diagnosed with clinical depression, the Lawrence resident broke out of her mental dungeon thanks to a form of therapy that at one time had a terrible reputation—electric-convulsive therapy, or ECT, commonly known as shock treatment.
“The doctors kept telling me my diagnosis would limit my ability to engage in life,” says the 57-year-old former part-time college professor, mother of three, and grandmother of five. Kivler decided it was time to make a change. In 1998, she reached out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Mercer County, which showed her she was not alone. Through NAMI she became active in educating and advocating in the mental health field. Now a member of NAMI’s board of directors, she works to raise awareness of mental illness through team walks, speeches, and media appearances, sharing her story of illness and recovery.
Through her work at local organizations and treatment centers, she “puts hope on the face of depression.” Three years ago, she created Courageous Recovery, a division of Kivler Communications (the media-coaching firm she founded in 1994). Courageous Recovery provides information to health care professionals nationwide. “Kivler Communications is how I make a living,” says Kivler, “Courageous Recovery is how I make a difference.” In 2003, Kivler self-published her book, Blessings: Your Journal of Gratitude, and is now working on her second book, Will I Ever be the Same Again? “Actually,” she says, “you will be better.”
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