CALL US TODAY: 718.869.7000 | 327 Beach 19th St, Far Rockaway NY 11691

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I have been coming to the Community Mental Health Center for therapy since 2013, but that’s not when I first got my diagnosis. I was first diagnosed right after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and really it was my daughter, who was having some problems in Jr. High School, so I had her see a therapist, and it was the first time I’ve ever been to a therapist. Where I’m from in the black community, mental illness is just not real, it’s “What are you talking about, get over it!” you know? During intake, they asked me questions as a parent about how I was feeling. I said, “I’m awful! I’m drinking after work every day, and sometimes during break I look over the bridge at work and sometimes I just want to hop off!” so they asked me to talk to a supervisor and I agreed. The supervisor asked me if I was okay, and I said “No, I just finished Hurricane Sandy and I’m having some issues,” He asked if I wanted to go somewhere to talk about it but I was there because my daughter needed help. Actually, it was me. That was a Friday, and the psychiatrist said to, go home and think about if I wanted to go away for an evaluation and that there was help available.

I went home and thought about it and said “Yeah, you need to send me somewhere” and later the car came and picked me up and took me to Holliswood (Hospital). I stayed there for a 5-day evaluation and they discovered that I was Bipolar. Apparently, I had been on a manic binge for a long time and it was crashing down. It was my first time going through that, so I got my medication. That was January.

By April, on medication and everything, for the first time I thought, “Oh wow, I don’t need this, I feel line, I’m back to normal.” At first when I was going to therapy, it was as if we were talking like friends, but I needed to work so it wasn’t helping me and I was okay. I went back to work, stopped taking my medication and life was okay until September.

I was fine, totally fine, and then I went back to work and had a wonderful day at work because I was a salesperson and I worked on commission so I sold a whole bunch of products that day. There was an 8 o’clock meeting the morning after, so nobody was happy to be back the next day for a meeting, but I was manic and happy going through the store. Nobody really said anything, but then the next day, at 6 AM, I woke up like something was literally sitting on top of me, I was crying, and I just wanted to die. It was a complete opposite and I called my manager and my manager said, “Yeah you know you need to get some help,” so I called around, but nobody helped.

My vacation time started to run out and there was no money, so I applied for public assistance for food stamps, so in between that time I was going to pantries to get food. I was over at St. Mary’s; it was the first time I ever had to go to a pantry to get food. I was depressed already so I was feeling pretty bad.

I was in there, in line and I thought, “This is rock bottom,” and then a priest there said, “You know, right there on the corner they have a mental health center, they can help you and can talk to someone.”

Later on in the afternoon, I decided to go in there. I thought I would make an appointment like with [other organizations], you try to make an appointment and you’ll get an appointment maybe 5 weeks later. If I had to wait for 5 weeks in the state that I was in I would have been dead, there’s no sugar coating it.

I came to [CMHC], went to the receptionist with my shopping cart full of pantry food and I said, “I need some help, I need to talk to a therapist,” and they said, “Okay, just fill out your name and address.”

I filled it out thinking they were going tell me to come back in 6 weeks, because everyone is so booked up, but the receptionist asked if I wanted to talk to someone now. I was so relieved, I said, “Sure.” I didn’t care if I had to wait 2 hours, 3 hours, I didn’t care.

About 15 minutes later, Mandy came down to meet me, by then, I had it together, I wasn’t crying or anything I had it together, I had to send my kids home with the shopping cart and I had to be strong. Once I got upstairs to her office, I let it out like I had never done before and that felt so good, just doing that. She sat, and she waited, and it was a release that was so peaceful, she didn’t have to say anything.

Then when she spoke, she said, “Hey, what’s going on?” Of course, the waterworks started coming again. Just through that conversation, I understood what therapy was, not necessarily that they are your friend, but there is a way therapists talk to you so they can figure out how to help you. It is not going be a questionnaire saying your symptoms. That’s what I thought it was. Mandy made me understand that.

So Mandy and I, we set some goals, but it was rocky because I still had that mentality that I could tweak my medication whenever I felt like it. I think after a few tries and sticking with Mandy and group [therapy], it just made me so much stronger and so much more stable; it is amazing how it all worked out. That was 6 years ago; I’ve been coming here ever since.

327 Beach 19th Street Far Rockaway, NY 11691 | TO REACH US: (718) 869-7000