KENTWOOD, Mich. (March 29, 2014) — A Kentwood man who went missing earlier this month is speaking out about his mental health.
Bradly Harmelink, 42, suffers from mental illness. He said that stopped taking his medication, and secretly took off to Texas without telling his family. Thankfully he was found safe and was reunited with his family.
Harmelink said that he shared his story to let the public know that they shouldn’t be afraid to speak openly about mental illness.
On the morning of March 3, 2014, Harmelink made breakfast for his 9-year-old-son Vae.Once his son got off to school and his wife left for work, without leaving a note he made his move.
“I thought I had a dream from God and I thought that there’s going to be some type of miracle once I got down to Texas, where I was going to be a special messenger,” said Harmelink.
After a day of planning, Harmelink believed God wanted him to serve a higher purpose and bought a bus ticket to Dallas.
His wife Ellen noticed her husband withdrew a large amount of money from their bank account, and waited at her son’s school to see if he would arrive to pick him up later that day.
“I sat at the school. I didn’t go in yet, but I sat there just to see if he’d show up, and he never showed up, so I knew. That’s when I knew that something was majority wrong because in any other time, that was his first and foremost. He made sure Vae had a way home from school no matter what,” said Ellen Harmelink.
Ellen then called police and reported her husband missing.
“I’m thinking, maybe he has a plan and once he gets to wherever he gets, he’ll call me or he will contact somebody,” said Ellen.
Harmelink said that he began to face reality once he arrived to Dallas, and it wasn’t what he expected.
“It was almost like pure terror. It was totally chaos at the bus station, all kinds of different people. No indication as to what was to happen next or what I was going to do. I was just at a loss,” said Harmelink.
While the community searched for him back in Michigan, Harmelink, who was off of his medicine and not eating, stayed at a Dallas homeless shelter.
“I was talking with one of the guys there about how I was on a mission from God and that’s why I’m here. I told him about my family and my son, he’s like, ‘What are you doing down here in Texas? Don’t you have to take care of your son?’ And then it was kind of like a blow,” said Harmelink.
Missing his family and nearly broke, Harmelink said that he started to snap out of his manic episode and used a library computer to email his wife, letting her know he was safe.
“I opened it up and there was an email and I like, I just didn’t know if I should open it. I was scared to open it. I was like, is this really him?” said Ellen Harmelink.
It’s been about three weeks since Haremlink returned. He says he’s back on his medication and no longer contributing to his obsessive behavior. As a part of his day-to-day struggle,he writes in his online blog about his issues with illness. He hopes being honest about his experiences will help others who are also ill to be honest about their own.
If you would like to read more about Harmelink’s experiences with mental illness, you can click here to read his personal blog.