Josh Lampert started having psychotic episodes in college, when he was 19 and living in Seattle.
"My diagnosis was psychotic depression," he told his father, Chuck, during a visit to StoryCorps. "You can hallucinate sounds and smells and tastes. And my mistake was doing drugs, because sometimes the line got blurred of what is real and what isn't. Other people seemed like they had so much — social relationships and girlfriends, and I was just trying to function."
The Lamperts flew to Seattle, took Josh back home to Richmond, Va., and helped him get well. Today, at 32, he is a line cook at a Mediterranean restaurant in San Francisco.
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman.
Click on the audio link above to hear Josh's story.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It's time again for StoryCorps. Friends and family have been interviewing each other for this project. Today we'll hear a conversation between a father and his son. Josh Lampert started having psychotic episodes in college. He's now 32. Josh sat down with his dad, Chuck, at StoryCorps to talk about his descent into depression and how his family responded.
CHUCK LAMPERT: You were 19 years old, living in Seattle. And talking to you on the phone, you were really out of it and said some frightening things. So we jumped on a plane, flew across the country. You were paranoid. You had lost a lot of weight. It was a shock, Josh, because I had no idea. You know, nobody prepares you for that.
JOSH LAMPERT: You guys were empty-nesters and I moved back in. What was it like having me around the house?
LAMPERT: It was difficult. You used to take the car and run it out of gas and leave it all over the city.
LAMPERT: Yeah, I remember that.
LAMPERT: And you left it blocking a road once and the police got really mad. And they thought it was me and they wanted to arrest me. And then I kept saying, I'm just here to pick the car up.
LAMPERT: That's probably the most embarrassing time.
LAMPERT: Because you were struggling and you had a lot of rage and you had a lot of anger.
LAMPERT: My diagnosis was psychotic depression. You can hallucinate sounds and smells and tastes. And my mistake was doing drugs, because sometimes the line got blurred of what is real and what isn't. Other people seemed like they had so much, social relationships and girlfriends, and I was just trying to function. Did you ever give up hope?
LAMPERT: Never. There was always a glimmer of yourself in there and I was not going to let you drop.
LAMPERT: I really owe you guys for that. You saved my life, you know.
LAMPERT: Well, there's no debt. You do that for your kids and someday you'll make a wonderful dad.
LAMPERT: Thanks. What do you think of my life now?
LAMPERT: It's wonderful.
LAMPERT: You're back to yourself. You're the person that I know.
LAMPERT: I'm pretty happy with my life today. I'm doing better than I ever have. You know, I'm working and I have a lot to look forward to and I see good things in the future.
LAMPERT: Yeah. Me too.
GREENE: Chuck and Josh Lampert at StoryCorps in San Francisco. Their interview will be archived at the library of Congress and you can subscribe to the project podcast at NPR.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.