By Daniel J. Vance MS, LPCC
Not long ago, I received an email from an Indiana reader wanting to share her story.
She was diagnosed with a severe mental illness more than three decades ago, she said. A psychiatrist later diagnosed her with schizoaffective disorder, which, roughly, could be described as a combination of schizophrenia and a manic or depressive mood disorder. In our telephone conversation, she strongly denied having schizoaffective disorder.
Said 57-year-old “Jean” (a pseudonym) over the telephone, “I don't have any (mental health) symptoms right now, but they did have me on experimental drugs (about five years ago). They were trying to kill me. I don't want anything to do with the government. There are so many falsehoods and lies in government. People are following things they shouldn't follow and they're just abusing each other.”
Jean said she was incredibly thankful for receiving disability payments because without them, she said, she might have ended up on the streets, doing drugs, and being a prostitute. Currently, she lives in a relative's old home and attributes her stability now to her Christian faith.
A three-sport athlete in high school, Jean said all her mental illness troubles began not long after being raped at age 16. At different points in her life she was in and out of mental institutions. Her father died in 1998, her mother two months ago, and she doesn't get along well with her only sibling.
She said, “Now I just want to stay away from everyone because people just want to ruin your life. People act like your friend and then betray you. It's nothing but evil what people are doing to each other nowadays.”
She had especially harsh words for doctors prescribing medications patients didn't need and how she believed those medications were “poisoning” so many people. She eats her meals at a local church-run soup kitchen where she gets “excellent” food.
“Since I'm on my own now, it's just hard to find someone you can trust,” she said. “Some people just want to give you their opinion about what they think you should do, but they aren't really helping you. For people going through what I've gone through, I would have to comfort them and tell them it's not easy and also tell them to get someone to cry out to. Sometimes you just need someone to cry out all your burdens to.”
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