I got sick with mental illness at age 21 after giving birth to my first child. At the time, I didn’t know I was sick. I just thought I was having the baby blues, crying all the time.
It was hard for me to help with my new baby and my husband at that time didn’t help me. In fact, he divorced me. I was trying to do all the parenting on my own but needed help. I had to move in with my stepmom so she could help take care of my child. She called my doctor and I was diagnosed with depression and, later, schizophrenia. I didn’t want to go, but I was put in a psychiatric unit. I fought tooth and nail not to go but a bunch of big guy nurses grabbed me at the hospital and forced me. I remember being tackled in the elevator. It was horrible. I think to this day this is why I don’t like elevators. They told me I couldn’t see my child because I was sick. I had to try several medications – I can’t even remember all the medications – and it took a few years to find a good medicine for me.
Later, I moved to Maine with my new boyfriend. Everything was great. I didn’t get sick with my second child, a beautiful boy named Nathaniel. I was healthy. Life was good.
Then my third child was born. I heard voices and got paranoid. I couldn’t watch TV or listen to the radio because I thought they were talking about me. I was put in a psychiatric unit again. I was in and out of the hospital for a year. After I got out of the hospital I broke up with my boyfriend at the time and moved back to Michigan.
I couldn’t see my children again for about two years. Then the father of my children committed suicide. People do not realize how hard this time was for me. I was isolated and didn’t have many friends.
In 1999, I started going to Club Cadillac. My CMH caseworker took me there. I liked it and started going everyday. I worked in the clerical unit, answered phones, did accounting, and helped with the newsletter. It kept my mind occupied from thinking bad thoughts about my past. I was getting stable again and started to have more friends. I started dating a man, Leon, from the Clubhouse, and in 2003 we were married. We moved out of our adult foster care homes and into our own apartment and Clubhouse members helped us move all of our stuff. I started working on getting custody of my kids again and began taking computer classes at Baker College. Life was getting better again.
For about two years now, I have been one of three members of our Clubhouse Advisory Board. Thanks to Dr. Melvin, I have been approved to be my husband’s payee and we have our own car now. With the help of my case manager, I regained custody of my children two years ago. We have our good days and our bad days, but I love them and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my control, I had to give one of my children up for adoption, but I also survived this.
I believe If I can survive all this, I can survive anything.