“I had gotten off my meds, I couldn’t carry my insurance. I fell behind on my payments and it lapsed so I couldn’t really get it back. So I went a year without my meds, a year of depression, I just really didn’t click with anybody. I was suicidal. I sold everything in my storage, because, with whatever I could fit in my backpack, the money in my pocket, and clothes I had on, I would just go as far as I could go. That’s how serious I was. That’s how f*cked up I was. Trying to escape from where I was in life, walk away from life, away from it all. I had just cut off ninety percent of my family off over some dumb, ignorant sh*t.

I went to the social services office right down the street. Because if they couldn’t help me, I was going to be gone in a matter of a couple of days. But I went in there and talked to one of the people. I was really emotional, falling apart, but she was comforting while I asked ‘Who can I turn to? Where can I go? What am I supposed to do? I don’t know this world? I don’t know how to deal with this diagnosis, being positive?’ And she was great, got me connected with the mental health in Washtenaw County and I met with them a few times. They got me connected with UNIFIED, but that still took a lot of years to get through the stigma, the shame of it all.

I started meeting with my case manager at UNIFIED and I got back on my meds. All of a sudden I had doctor appointments scheduled every week; I was going to see a therapist; like literally every week I had something to do. When I first started going to UNIFIED, if I was early to my appointment, I wouldn’t wait in the office and have people come in and see my sitting there. What if someone came in that I knew? It was this tremendous amount of fear. I would sit under a tree at UNIFIED until two minutes before my appointment. I would do this for months because that’s where I was, I would feel ashamed. And I felt turned away by my family and nobody understood how to deal with me and talk with me about it. It took me a long time, through going to UNIFIED and therapy, I just immersed myself into volunteering at UNIFIED. It’s my UNIFIED family.” (3/4)