The following story was contributed by Scott, one of MHAG’s Peer Support Specialists.

Hi my name is Scott Ciallella and I am 49 years old and I work at MHAG as a peer support specialist for the last two years and this is my story. I was born in Riverside, RI into a family of alcoholics, my parents, grandparent, sister, aunts and uncles.  There is a picture of me drinking a beer at the age of 2 years old, it was acceptable for everyone to  drink in my family.   The first time I got drunk was at the age of 10 years old and it was with my grandparents and parents.   I learned that drinking took away my feelings and fears(false evidence appearing real). Then my life had its first trauma at the age of 12 I was sexually molested to the age of 14, when people in my neighborhood found out this was happening to me they picked on me called me names and beat me up.   When my parents found out they did nothing about it my father called me some real derogatory names!   At this point in my life is when my mental illness started,  a lot of negative things  were being done to me and said to me repeatedly and my mind learned from this.   My mind learns through repetition, my thinking has now become my problem over and over again in my mind.

Now at the age of 15 I create this character of Scotty Joe, he is drinking and doing drugs every day and he is a very angry, aggressive and a violent person.  I created him out of survival,  nobody was helping me or standing up for me so I did this myself although he had a very tough outward appearance I was actually a very scared and insecure little boy.   I continued to drink and drug with dangerous behaviors and by the age of 18 I was sent to my first rehab, I did not want to go and it didn’t work for me. I did learn a little something about alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness, they are diseases of my mind and they are progressive and fatal diseases  if left untreated. My life continued to spin out of control with numerous attempts at AA and NA.  I have been to over 20 Detoxes ,rehabs and psych wards with no recovery to follow I did not want it!  By now I had become Bi-polar and did not know my manics were completely out of control I have done things in my manic alcohol and drug induced state that are unmentionable , I did not care about myself and just wanted to stop feeling this way . That thinking problem I had bought into a state of depression which is the other side of my Bi-polar disorder in this “state of mind” I would beat myself up just like I learned how to do from all the words and actions other people have said and done to me, the human mind learns from repetition and my mind was in this state.  When I got like this I was in an emotional hangover and saw no future for me and planned a suicide attempt some of these attempts were real others a cry for help either way I was in a bad place. Thankfully I was not successful! My life was a total chaos lifestyle and I couldn’t figure out why drugs and alcohol had turned on me but I still was drinking and drugging because I had to.  My thinking made me feel real uncomfortable with me and with the world and I needed something to stop that feeling, my alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness is a disease of my mind I am at “dis” “ease”(disease) and I need something to stop me from feeling this way!  I couldn’t stop, something had to give!  So in 2004 I met this woman named Bonnie my life started to look better to me she helped me but I still was drinking and drugging, we started dating and on June 16, 2006 in Laconia ,NH on my motorcycle drunk and high we got into a very bad motorcycle accident where I almost died and Bonnie had a broken leg and foot , I vowed to quit drinking and drugging after that but did not I continued to smoke pot and got caught by Bonnie.  We got into a fight and she got away from me and called the police I got into a fight with the police and got arrested for numerous charges, this is the 11th  time I had gotten arrested in my life due to my behaviors on alcohol and drugs. Sitting in the jail cell I said to myself that this had to stop.  On Feb 10, 2007 I went to court and had a plea-bargain with the Mass. DA and I went to a 90 day rehab with 90 meetings  of AA after and counseling.   I threw myself into recovery and have not looked back since.   I go to 4-5 AA meeting s a week.  I still go to counseling and a psychiatrist, I take my meds as directed and work a program of recovery.  Constant  vigilance is the price of recovery!   I work at MHAG to help people that are searching to recover as well.  I was told in order for me to keep this recovery I have to give it away!  I try to help other as others have helped me,  I could not snap out of this as many people have told me to do ,what I have learned through repetition is that I have to work my way out of it.  Other people have helped me do this, this is a WE program if you take the words ”Mental Illness” and take the “I” out of illness and replace it with “We” you get “Mental Wellness” don’t go at this alone ask for help!  This is a life or death situation my recovery came first before everything,  if I don’t have my recovery I don’t have anything.  Working at MHAG has helped me grow as a person and has strengthen my recovery and I would like to thank all of the peers and co-workers because they help keep me in recovery so thank you!  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.