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Voices for Recovery

Jaquese Armstrong (06/18/2013)

Jaquese Armstrong

I have been living with a mental illness for 30 years.  For 25 of those years, I was stubborn and living in delusion and psychosis.  I am a living testimony that you can make it through if you have faith and, in my case, family.

I was 20 years old when I had my first psychotic episode, and not long after I became catatonic – a psychiatric state where I stopped almost all movement.  There weren’t very many good drugs on the market in the early 80s.  I was given shock treatments and an antipsychotic and sent on my way.  While adjusting to treatment, I had to change my chemical engineering major, and it took eight years for me to get a B.A. in journalism.

I worked on and off after I completed school.  My family moved a lot, so I got the benefit of new psychiatrists.  They found the combination of drugs that worked for me through a research project.  In about a year, I was psychosis-free, and I have been managing my mental illness for more than six years.  I give thanks to God and family who have always helped me along the way.

I am now in my fifth year of a workable level of recovery and wellness.  I enjoy living independently.  I volunteer with a mental health organization and do everything I can to combat misconceptions, including participating in a documentary, delivering inspirational speeches, and publishing articles.  I am also working to publish a memoir. I hope these projects will inspire, educate, and stimulate conversation about mental health issues on a personal level.   All of these activities help me to feel that my experience was not in vain. When everyone begins to understand, I am confident that the misconceptions will fade.

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