I was suicidal and in therapy at 16. I was diagnosed with agoraphobia in Navy Boot Camp, had panic attacks that were a danger to myself and others, and I have learned in years of therapy not to act on what the voices in my head are saying.
I’ve been unemployed and homeless, and I self-medicated that loss by going through a fifth of liquor a day—starting before breakfast.
Rehab saved me.
I didn’t come from a terrible background. My parents both worked and I had a Nanny. But I had to turn down a partial college scholarship because my parents wouldn’t sign for my loans. My artistic dreams faded and I went to court reporting school. I’ve also worked for UPS and with the Downtown Cincinnati Ambassadors who help visitors and keep the sidewalks clean and safe. But I lost that job two years ago and I couldn’t find another one because I was struggling with severe mental health issues.
I had to go on food stamps through Hamilton County Job and Family Services. They referred me to Dress for Success.
I was very nervous walking through the door. But I felt immediately at home. The staff and volunteers greeted my warmly and treated me like a sister, rather than a broken person. That was another step forward to becoming myself again. And that’s why I’m happy to be here.
I have my daughter back with me. I have a job with Over the Rhine Community Housing. I’m on the Board of Tender Mercies. I’ve joined the Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group to help me continue and advance in my career.
And my artistic energy that was buried for so many years is back—and I am working on a graphic novel.
Thank you, mental health care workers, and thank you Dress for Success Cincinnati.