My name is Amillia Henderson. I reside in the Atlanta, Georgia area. This is the first time that I’ve written a personal testimony to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness support group.
As an individual who suffers from both mental and physical disabilities, I lost my last two “real jobs” due to my health (I’ve had other very low paying jobs). While employed as a loan processor at a large bank, I experienced my first symptoms of psychosis, hearing voices in my head. After leaving the bank I was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I became stable but later started feeling pain in my joints; I attributed this pain to my antipsychotic medicine which causes deterioration in bone density. At this time, I had completed my Master of Arts degree in Human Behavior and was working for a group home that sheltered teenagers with behavioral issues. One morning, an 18-year-old resident of the home had refused to attend school and became irate when I took a bag of art supplies away from her. The resident kicked me in both of my knees which forced me to leave that job. Since then, my hips have also gone bad. I have had both right and left total hip replacements.
Setting at home and staring at the Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and my graduate degree that I earned made me angry and very depressed…”Am I only well enough now to collect a monthly social security disability check that isn’t much of an income?” When you wallow in your heartache you become infested in your own negativity; you’re literally living in your own waste materials! When you fall down please, learn from my mistake, don’t stay down. You lose so much precious time that can never be replaced.
I’m now writing a book about my life experience of being an African American Christian woman enduring paranoid schizophrenia and degenerative bone disease. I want to stress the importance of taking care of yourself – mind, body and spirit! Taking your medicine, eating right (and possibly taking multivitamins), daily exercising, practicing stress-reducing coping techniques, and keeping a positive attitude is so important for those of us who are enduring mental illness.
"A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it." ~ Ray Davis