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Twenty Years

I grew up in Temple, Texas with a family that had not noticed early signs of my mental illness. Parents divorced and I went to Florida. I found support with my sister Lisa; I felt the future was where we belonged. I seemed to have had minor quirks that could be bypassed by my cute appearance, something that would slowly fade as I grew up, but I didn’t care — something was growing inside and worsening by the day.

My first sight of fear came as two boys threw my sister down and pulled her into the laundromat as we were coming home from school. I froze. My big sister fought and the danger was gone but my inability to act fast tore me. The Rev. James Allen Jones found my distress a year later and gained my trust and love but was only after my body. I sold Christmas cards door to door to get closer to that future faster. I spoke to the people inside but they put attention to me that broke the shell of my life. I had a panic attack. On the way home waves of fear and disbelief of my world shocked me to stay alive if not only to write this letter or to close the path I saw. It was real. My family could hardly see my afflictions even as I tried so hard to show them but I never told them.

James spoke of a Hell and God saying there was a council who sat in a mothership above me and aliens who flew around watching me. My thoughts were known and death came to the disloyal. I was arrested for truancy for the many months I couldn’t go to school. James was exploiting me and may have spoken against me because an angry judge sent me away. I could not break the brainwashing from James and my mind was not my own. I can’t say how much he affected me. Justice was perverted and no one knew of my years held hostage.

The day I arrived in Texas and saw the anger in my dad’s eyes was the worst day of my life. The next 20 years I went through the stages of depression, social phobia, PTSD, panic, and ADHD, getting counseling when my pay increased. My dad taught me to be a carpenter and that resource ultimately paved my way out to the future but I lost contact with Lisa. Today I take Elavil for depression and anxiety, and Strattera for ADHD.

My advice is to find your path, accept it and yourself. Love, forgive and most important stay with your faith. Mental illness hurts but you can choose to move forward today! Change your pain to joy by seeing the true warrior you are! You’re holding yourself up and reading the stories of your illnesses. Admire the true courage of one person that will stand with you — You! Confront the worst by letting trustworthy people into your life then ask them to tell you what they see, that will help the confusion. Be factual. Cross over and be not afraid nor dismayed. Use AM radio talk-show hosts, listen and structure yourself around the moral ones. You must change your thinking and it can be done. You will have to hit the gas at the top of the hill and if you do you’ll get over your hill, if not try again. Be stubborn, you have a right to your life! Stand. Find groups that move together by support. Learn more about your diagnosis by knowing your symptoms well. Keep an account of what you experience. Go through your state’s emergency hospital to seek medicine and counseling when needed. It’s work but what you’re going through is harder. It gets easier once you deal with each issue. I pray for your success…

–Moving On

Twenty Years

Personal Story

A personal story contribution is a story told by someone who is living with mental illness, a caregiver or family member, or a professional who treats mental illness. We believe in the importance of the patient's voice, and those most impacted by the effects of mental illness. These stories are a vital part of the mosaic that makes up the complexity of living with mental health concerns.

APA Reference
Story, P. (2020). Twenty Years. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.