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Member Stories – Jeff

I always considered myself over-qualified for life. I grew up in Waterford, Michigan and was always popular. I was the student council president in junior high; I was blessed with a gift for music and won numerous awards for solos and ensembles in statewide high school competitions. I sat first chair playing the baritone horn in symphonic band and was captain of the high school marching band.

My nightmare began when I was a junior and grew rapidly by the time I graduated with honors from high school. My first hospitalization was a year later when I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The medications they put me on helped and my life began to improve.

I worked several jobs for the next seven years until I had my next hospitalization. My medications were adjusted and I was discharged. Four years later I stopped taking my medication and landed in state hospital for thirty days. I’ve been improving ever since.

About this time, I started attending a day program for people with mental illness. One of the people there suggested that we begin a Schizophrenics Anonymous meeting. I co-led the group and it helped me get along better with people. It also makes it easier for me to accept my schizophrenia. Instead of hiding my illness, I would like to think that I am helping to erase stigma. More honest and steady attendance at Schizophrenics Anonymous meetings has enabled me to open that closed door a little more each time and come into life’s sunlight.