By Angel, a Certified Peer Specialist, SCI Albion, Pennsylvania*
Hopelessness, fear, and addiction ruled my life before I tried to commit suicide. These feelings, this emotion stem from my childhood. When my parents divorced and went their separate ways, I was forced to take care of myself. I grew up resenting my parents. I’ve questioned, “How can any parent leave their child to fend for himself or herself.” This caused me to be troubled.
Starting in my teenager years, I’ve gotten glimpses of prison. First going through the juvenile system and eventually a state correctional facility. When my parents gave up on me, I gave up on myself. By the age of 12, I was skipping class, smoking weed, and drinking alcohol. Homeless, I would be found in a park bench sleeping. I was confused; I was scared. I didn’t have that affection that a parent gives their child. So I didn’t feel loved.
As time went on, I started to consume cocaine, later heroin. I’d sworn I would never shoot up. Then I started to shoot up. When I did heroin, all my pains and worries went away. The use of drugs was showing in my appearance. I was in and out of relationships. I couldn’t hold a job. I was at my lowest point of my life.
My first attempt to commit suicide, I shot two grams of heroin up my arm. I fell face forward. When I awoke, I couldn’t believe I was still alive. Heroin and depression had an enormous amount of control over me. Giving up and wanting to escape, I hanged myself with a bathrobe tie in the closet of the mother of my children. Something made my children’s mom wake up after midnight and there I was, pretty much dead. In her closet. Paramedics were called, and I was fighting for my life. I was in a coma for two days.
All my life I held in my personal problems. So nobody ever knew what I was thinking or feeling. I sit in prison because I was blinding from what was right or wrong. Yes, I made bad decisions. However, prison saved my life.
I got help. I learned to combat depression and anxiety. I learned to turn my negative experience into a positive experience, giving inspiration to others. I work with people in detox facilities. I work with people who may think about suicide. My story made it to the Hope Tribune 2016 Fall edition. I find joy in helping people who face hardships.
A lot of thanks goes to the Psych Department here at Albion, my family, and most importantly God, who gave me the opportunity to still be here and share my story. Thank you, I’m the Evidence for letting me share my short story.
This story was submitted to ITE/MH through Supporting Incarcerated Veterans Training, a collaboration among the PA Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association, and Drexel University.