I have been involved with the “mental health” system since the 1960’s. Things from my earliest past life up until now have always had to have something to deal with the mental sense of who I am as a person and individual: I’ve been depressed and suicidal all of my life since childhood, with the “title” being “deep depression and suicidal ideation,” with a learning disability. I’ve been in special education throughout my schooling. During my young adult life, my mother and dad separated and my brother had many problems with me, so home life, for lack of a better word, was a mess. Mom was a lesbian and Dad was involved in many “different” types of things, so he was not around enough to make a difference in my life, and my uncles were the only “men” figures who showed me some help. My picture of the garage as in a mess form is how I think of my whole childhood as well as most of my adult life.
Throughout my life I’ve had many ups and downs, including spending time in prison (over 30 years) and 90 days in the Pontiac State Hospital. My mental health problems, drinking and drugging, medications that I have used in the past, and many different types of things have all contributed to the point that I couldn’t seem to get ahead one way or another for a large part of my life. With paranoia, mental and emotional stress, I’ve been trying to conquer my different issues.
When I was in prison, I was involved with Jaycees and different organizations. I’ve been always trying to upgrade myself because I knew that would be the real opportunity to advance my skills in helping different types of people that even society would shun and throw to the curb. Since prison can be a horrible place for many different reasons, I would at times find myself in angry situations. Without thinking, I would say things that I would regret later, think everybody was out to get me, and the paranoia would kick in at the most inopportune times. I deal with this now on a daily basis.
Before I got out of Prison in November 2008, I tried to get help for depression and they said that my depression wasn’t bad enough for any type of medical intervention! When I got out I had insomnia and depression so bad that I knew I needed medical/mental help desperately. I walked in and they gave me a caseworker to talk to and that person has been my caseworker ever since and then proceeded to reopen my “case” and I was told to go to Community Mental Health. After seeing my caseworker as well as my psychiatrist for awhile, they had me start going to the learning group to help me learn about my actual and specific mental problems.
At that point, the case worker helped me get involved with the “Pathways to Recovery” group. I found it to be a group that had many other people who had the same issues that I have and it is also a group that allowed me to express myself and find out that I am truly not alone in many different issues nor am I different than anybody else. The stigmas surrounding many different mental health issues opened my eyes so that I could think about a future where I could actually “help” other people.
In May of 2009 at the State Capitol in Lansing, I was asked to represent Crawford County by carrying the flag. Then I was asked to give a speech for my county that enabled me to know that I could overcome my different social issues with many different kinds of people and at the same time give me the confidence to make a speech. The Crawford County Avalanche newspaper wrote an article about me making a statement on the Capitol steps and here is some of the statement: “In Crawford County, we don’t want to fail first with the state’s preferred list of drugs before we can get approval to use the mental health prescriptions that we know work best. That’s not the way to treat people. Let us recover using the prescriptions that we know work. “WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES!”
While at the rally, I met some wonderful and helpful people who could help me in so many ways in regards to what I, as an individual, could accomplish. My life has been remarkably changed from the help I’ve received in the last two years. I now find myself want to literally “help” other individuals in ways that would change their lives for the better as it did for me. Community Mental Health, the Crawford County Alcoholics Anonymous Program, the Grace Center for Substance Abuse, and some community people that have helped me out by giving me food and housing and just by being a friend to someone like me, I would like to say a very large “THANK YOU”!