Photo of hands on a railing over a lake.
Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

Mental health has always been a topic I wanted to avoid, now I find myself opening up.

During the early stages of the pandemic, I found myself thinking differently, wanting to do different things — like have a drink, which I don’t do anymore. But the hardest part was being alone. I cried a lot and went through stints of depression. During that time I thought about my family and how badly I wanted to be around them. The death of my parents and siblings always brought tears to my eyes.

First being diagnosed with major depression disorder in 2008 while I was in the judicial system, I didn’t think of it as a problem. I thought mental health was just another stunt to keep me in the judicial system. But mental health is real, mental health is serious!

While in the judicial system I was ordered to take medications for my disorders, which I did not like. Besides having to take the medications in prison, when I was released I had to report to a probation officer and to mental health once a week for five years.

September will be five years since I have been out of the judicial system, and as soon as I was out of the system I left mental health. Once I left, I didn’t have the support that I thought I didn’t need.

I recently reconnected to mental health care because I want to move out of my current housing situation and the only way to do it was to reconnect. (Oh, I forgot to mention that I got my housing through mental health.) 

When the pandemic hit, I found myself all alone, crying and really not knowing or understanding why. See, when I was in the system, I rejected the mental health help because I didn’t want to be there. And I didn’t talk about these things because I didn’t want people to look at me differently. 

Some people have the wrong perception of mental health. It affects everyone differently. My mental health may not be as serious as others. I can do things for myself, whereas people with more serious mental health issues may need the assistance of a case manager or others. 

Now that I am reconnected with health care, it seems different than the last time. I’m more open to the doctor’s suggestions. I’m taking my meds. I make my appointments, and I’m getting a lot from my one -on-ones with the case manager at Street Sense Media, who I meet with once a week for one hour.

And it’s all contributing to my success, I just got a job as a line cook. I was hired by Reef Kitchens!