The following story was contributed by Tammi, one of MHAG’s Peer Support Specialists.
I started my sophomore year at UNC-Chapel Hill with a bang. I developed new friendships, joined a dance team, and even became the leader of my dance team. Unfortunately, my grades were below average. I had the strategy of staying up all night to study and write papers. No one thought it was unusual for a college student to stay up for days, and my parents didn’t think that my lack of sleep was an indication of a bigger problem.
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.
The following is a profile of one of MHAG’s peers, Benny Phillips, written by MHAG staffer Julia.
Benny Phillips came into the Mental Health Association in Greensboro on January 5, 2016. He was homeless, in crisis and really had no idea what to do next.
After speaking to our staff, Benny decided that he needed to take advantage of our services and start his recovery journey. He began attending Wellness Academy classes and faithfully attending peer support sessions. As part of the recovery process, Benny worked with a Peer Support Specialist to set recovery goals and monitor his progress toward attaining them.
Not long after, Benny started meeting the first of many goals.
Over the last eight months, Benny has obtained housing, established a medical and mental health provider, purchased a vehicle, and become permanently established with full-time employment. We are so proud of his progress and continue to support him in maintaining his wellness.
The following story was contributed by Eric, a friend of MHAG staff.
My name is Eric.I am 34 years old, and live near Cleveland, OH.I finally decided on July 24 2015 that i had enough of the crazy lifestyle that I had been living for far to long.I wont go into much detail but I started with weed when I was 13, did pretty much everything there is until I discovered opiates at the age of 30.It started with percocets from a car accident and within a year i was snorting heroin.It quickly destroyed my life.I first started getting serious about recovery when the mother of my children died from an infection that ate away her heart valve that she contracted through I.V. drug use.Two months later, I lost one of my very dear friends to a heroin overdose, he snorted a small amount and it killed him.Since I finally got my act together, I have lost too many friends to count to addiction.
The following story was contributed by Stephanie, MHAG’s Director of Peer Support Services.
Before coming to Freedom House I dreaded seeing the sun stream through my bedroom window. Hopelessness was literally choking the life out of me daily. My addiction to prescription pills had become such a beast that I found functioning without medication impossible. Consequently, maintaining a job, household, and motherhood quickly became unmanageable. I had become mentally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt.
The following story was contributed by Julia, MHAG’s Director of Recovery Initiatives.
My mother had me at the young age of 16. She married my father three years later. The physical abuse I witnessed between the both of them was horrifying. I remember hiding in the closets to try to disappear and escape reality. My father’s addiction to crack-cocaine made him very angry and although he never physically harmed me he was verbally abusive and I was scared to death of him. Finally during a violent fight between them one day I was able to get out of the house and call the police. After the raid of my house and fathers arrest I thought I was in the clear and could finally start living my life with my mom.