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Member Stories – Paula

As a young child, I was sexually abused. By the age of 6, I had been in court twice to testify. I was very withdrawn and very afraid of men. I was assigned a visiting teacher to try to help me with the emotional problems that had developed. She was my counselor until I graduated from high school.

As a teenager, I became very suicidal and attempted to kill myself numerous times over the next 25 years. I was diagnosed as schizophrenic, given shock treatments and very strong medications, but these did not help. My mother was told I would never leave the hospital and that I would most likely kill myself, but they would continue to work with me. I was self-destructive and I very deeply believed I was a bad person.

When I was in my early twenties, I fell in love and married. He knew nothing of my problems, but I loved him and knew we would conquer anything. I believe this was the worst experience of my life. He did ungodly sexual things that I had never heard of or thought possible; thus I could not respond correctly to him, and after a few weeks we separated and eventually ended our marriage. This added to the self-hatred, and again I tried to kill myself. It seemed the answer to every problem was to end my life. I could not find anything good in myself. I honestly believed that I was bad and I had no right to be happy or even live.

For years I was in the state mental hospital more than I was home, until about two years ago. At that time, I was in a medical hospital with IVs and unable to keep anything in my stomach. I decided if I was ever going to be helped, I had to want to be well because all the doctors and therapists could not help me unless I helped myself and really wanted to live.

I know I have a long way too go but I am now working with my doctors and therapists and helping other schizophrenic people. I am a member of the Clinton Valley Center Citizens Advisory Council; I led a chapter of Schizophrenics Anonymous at Clinton Valley Center. I have helped take care of an 87-year-old Alzheimer’s patient; and tried to help educate the public about mental illness. I know I will make it because I want to and I have the best support anyone could ask for.