“In 1997, I passed basic training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) school with flying colors and started my career as a Medical Specialist in the United States Army. A few years later, I was diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder of substance abuse and schizophrenia. I remember feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. All of a sudden I couldn’t smile to myself or whisper prayers because people would think I was hearing voices. It made me feel imprisoned, like my freedom of self-expression had been taken away.
I left the military not understanding and accepting that I needed help, and as a result I spent 11 years in and out of jails and hospitals, and was often homeless. But with God and family support I finally sought help. It took several attempts to get better, but I eventually came to a place of acceptance, recovery and well-being. I learned to listen and accept the help and support that was out there waiting for me.
Today I have peace from my symptoms and I am filled with hope. I love to play and watch sports, watch movies, listen to music and spend time with my friends and family. I work for NAMI as a Peer Helpline Specialist and live with my loving family. My life has truly been restored.”– Pharoh Degree
Incorrect beliefs about people experiencing mental illness lead to stigma and discrimination. As a result many people experiencing mental illness are deprived of opportunities such as a job, a home, friends and family -the very things that make life worth living.
It’s Up To Us to make a difference. Learn more at www.Up2SD.org.