My mother was a prostitute. Actually, she was a drug addict who prostituted herself to pay for drugs. I was born three days before her fifteenth birthday. I had to stay in the hospital to withdrawal from drugs; I was born addicted. My mom used to leave me at a dive bar in east Baltimore while she turned tricks. Sometimes she’d leave me for days at a time while she turned tricks then got high.
The owners of the bar bought me diapers and food. I spent so much time there that they started raising me then legally adopted me when I was three.
I was diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities when I was in the first grade. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder when I was 14. I met my husband when I was 16, got pregnant at 17, and had my first baby when I was 18.
After my second baby, I suffered post-partum psychosis and was admitted to Sheppard Pratt Hospitall. I was readmitted later because I wasn’t taking my medication. The second time I had 15 rounds of electroshock therapy. I didn’t have any treatments or take any medication for the next ten years, during which I added two more babies to my family.
In 2012, when I was 31, I started hearing voices and attempted suicide. My husband sent me away for three months for treatment.
Now I see a therapist in the outpatient mental health clinic at Mosaic Community Services and am part of a women’s depression group at my church. Now I realize how much I mean to other people, and that if I don’t take care of myself, no one will take care of my family. I am blessed to have four daughters, ages 10-17, and a husband who’s loved me forever.
I want everyone to know that when you have mental illness, it’s hard to make decisions when you’re not in your right mind. Therapy and medication are helpful. Remember, there’s always hope. Better days are coming.