I’m thirty-six years old. I was thirty-two when I moved in to an adult home in Brooklyn. I’ve been working since I was sixteen. First I was a camp counselor. At 17, I sold lingerie at Century 21, from 18 to 22 I worked at Waldbaum’s Deli. Then I got a job in custodial at the Board of Ed. I always managed to move higher up on the pay scale. I dropped out of school in the 9 th grade. When I got my GED, I scored high enough to enter a good college, but I had to work.
I was working my custodial job for 6-7 years but I couldn’t do it anymore with my illness. My family went into a homeless shelter, but I rented an apartment and paid for my family with my job. Then I was hospitalized—I was very sick. I still hear voices, but I can handle them now. I thought my life was over. Someone told me to join CIAD and get more active in your illness. Being part of the CIAD Policy Committee gives me control over parts of my life.
A volunteer for CIAD named Jennifer came and asked if anyone would like to learn to do videotapes. Now I am a cameraperson on the CIAD media team. I joined another video club for mental illness and made a video called Phat City—it’s about weight gain and anti-psychotics. The medications slow you down and make you gain weight. I used to be thin five years ago.
My boyfriend and I have been together for four years. Now my life feels like I havesome control and I have a future.