As part of a campaign to improve the dignity and respect given to people with a behavioral health disorder, Voices of Hope is sharing real stories of real people in recovery. Today, one of our most dedicated volunteers, Darrell, shares his story with all of us.
My name is Darrell, and I am in long term recovery. The environment I felt trapped in growing up perhaps does not fit the normal story of happiness and love. I always knew I was different, just did not understand the reason. There were people who looked at my life and responded with “why do you always have to live on the edge?”, but mental illness is not something that comes with directions when you are born. Many times, it felt like being in a room full of people and screaming as loud as you can about the emotional pain you were in, but nobody was listening, and their lives went on as usual. I never considered myself an addict because I only used to decrease the emotional pain, I needed to stop the torment I was in. However, to stop the pain, I used crank and window pane, and that was usually chased with Bacardi. When I would get in trouble, the Judge would always cut me a break and order me to AA or NA, and truthfully, I only went for the free donuts and coffee. My life didn’t start to change until one day I had enough and decided to enlist in the USMC. Things began to escalate and I was given an Honorable Discharge. But, my psych evaluation after signing my discharge papers was Bipolar Disorder and a couple of other psychological terminology. Finally, somebody understood the reason and gave a definition behind it. Years later, I got in to trouble and this time, the judge ordered me to get psychological counseling. I thank God for the Pastor who became not just my counselor, but my mentor and father figure. Today, I am giving back to my community, trying to be an advocate, because everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Along the way, I lost a lot of important things, but I found me.