I was born with mental illness. At the age of nine and a half I had a seizure. My parents took me to the doctor. He told them I have epilepsy. When growing up and going to school I was picked on and called “stupid” and “retarded.” I used to go home to my room and have crying spells. I asked my mother, “Am I stupid or retarded?” and she said I was a slow learner with problems. The doctors and medical people told my parents I wouldn’t be able to work a job, drive a car, get married or date. I had rough teen years, a lot of ups and downs, and something I can’t even mention.
When I was twenty-one I met Joan, my wife. We dated and I moved in with her and her mother. Her mother had a mental illness too. I took Joan to see Elvis Presley on December 31, 1975 at the Pontiac Silverdome. We had a great time. On March 2, 1976, Joan and I got married. They said it wouldn’t last. Thirty-one years later, she’s still the one.
In 1980, Steven was born. He was slow in development. At age 4 he was diagnosed with autism. He lived with me and Joan until he was eight years old. He was placed in the St. Louis School for Boys. He came home on weekends. He now lives at the Mt. Pleasant Center in Mt. Pleasant, where he is being treated for his mental illness.
In 1982 we bought our first house. We had our share of ups and downs, taking care of Steven, dealing with Joan’s problems and my problems, working jobs, paying the bills. It took its toll. By 1993 I went down the wrong road. I met someone at a bar and got hooked on crack cocaine. I became a crack addict. I was a weekend warrior. I would work all week and party every weekend. It took its toll.
On October 28, 1994 I fell off a roof. I broke my ankle and tibia. I had to sue the company for which I worked. I won my lawsuit on August 8, 1995. On September 11, 1995, I moved with my neighbor to Houghton Lake. On October 1, 1995, Joan came up to join me. She didn’t like Houghton Lake. She moved to New York to live with her brother. On February 25, Joan came back to Houghton Lake to be with me. She filed for S.S.I. and on October 11 she got approved.
On November 11 that year we bought our house on a land contract. Six years later, in 2002, we paid it off. In 2001 we renewed our 25th wedding vows at Our Lady of the Lake and on May 25, 2001, I got hired at Our Lady of the Lake.
In April 2002, my problems with drugs returned. I went to Community Mental Health to get treatment for anxiety, depression and drugs. We go to the Drop-in Center. I shoot pool and Joan watches TV and talks to other consumers there.
In 2001 we bought a 1993 Sable. In 2002 we traded in the 1993 Sable for a 1999 Mercury Sable. In 2005 we bought a 2005 Ford Focus. I say we bought the Focus because I am focusing on my recovery. Not bad for a couple of mixed nuts.
On September 25, 2005, I went down the wrong road again with the wrong person. I went to jail and they let me out on September 27. I was stranded in Lansing. I spent the night in an airport. I got my therapist to call the guys at Drop-in. They came down to get me. Thank God for them. You really know your true friends. Thank God for places like Community Mental Health, the Drop-in Center, and our Church.