“I want you to know that there are people who care, people who won’t judge you, people who will embrace you when you’re struggling and when you have no place to go.”
Share your stigma story
My story began with losing my job. Then I had cancer and I was fighting for my life. And that led to me losing everything that I had.
Friends and family say it’s a miracle that I survived the storm. I’ve always been told, “Give it to God. He’ll help you through it.”
I grew up in an African-American family who did not believe in speaking to a psychiatrist. We gave it to God always. God can’t fix everything. And sometimes when you don’t deal with issues in your life, everything comes crumbling down.
I’m a person that most of my life I gave to others. I cared a great deal about people. But when it came to me, I didn’t put a lot into me. I never took the time to deal with my emotional state of mind. I accepted whatever happened to me as if it was God’s will. And, one day, life just took a turn and it seemed like I could no longer put the pieces of my life together. And it led me to eviction.
How did you overcome this experience?
I found Volunteers of America’s Paca House program from the homeless unit. I had to take a moment because I’m a person who never thought that I would be in a position where I was homeless. When I found out about the program, I went and put my application in. I remember my first reaction was, “I don’t belong here.” I felt out of place. But at the same time, I felt I was one step away from losing the one thing I have, which is my faith.
When I first stepped into Paca House, it was amazing. And for the first time in my life, I mattered. I will always be grateful for being in a position to walk through those doors because this program offers you a second chance. And it is what you choose to make of it. Today, I take baby steps.
At Paca House, VOA introduced me to the VOA Hope Center for my emotional wellbeing. I’m a person who don’t easily trust. I keep my private life private. So, it took me a year to be able to unfold about things that have happened to me. My family didn’t know. My children didn’t know. I’ve shared it with some of my best friends because they were there for me for most of my life. My psychiatrist helped me over one hurdle after another. And sometimes you need someone who won’t judge you just to hear your story. I couldn’t identify my issues because I spent most of my life running from them.
My journey with speaking to my counselor has been one of the best things I could have done for me because it has helped me heal. I don’t’ carry my pain with me where ever I go. I can say that it’s not ok what happened to me. I now understand that it wasn’t my fault.
I know in this program we’re at many different levels. But the best part of this program is we don’t have to hide who we are. We’re there for each other. It feels like one big family.
Help others by sharing a brief positive message.
I want you to know that there are people who care, people who won’t judge you, people who will embrace you when you’re struggling and when you have no place to go.”