BJ

“There’s a lot of people that are hurting in this community.  The people who are mentally ill don’t choose to be the way they are.”  [link to “Read BJ’s story here”]

“There’s a lot of people that are hurting in this community. The people who are mentally ill don’t choose to be the way they are.”

“I had my first nervous breakdown when I was 31 and it was like I just couldn’t function,” explains BJ. Though the mental illness itself was a challenge, the Navy veteran and former correctional officer also struggled with very thought that he could be mentally ill. “I wanted to deny my mental illness because I’d always relied on my mind.”

In and out of different institutions, BJ says he spent time in the psychiatric wards of four different hospitals before accessing his benefits through the Veteran’s Administration. Now, those benefits help BJ pay for the $17,000 worth of medication he needs each year.

BJ and his sister, who also suffers from mental illness, shared an apartment until last fall, when an altercation between the siblings ended with BJ being taken to jail.

“I spent two months in jail for intimidation,” he recalls. “I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in jail.” MHAVC staff helped him get approved for residency at YOUnity Village upon his release on New Year’s Eve.

“I started the new year here,” BJ says. “It’s been good. This is the nicest place I’ve been in since I was in the service. This place is a godsend—the staff is nice. My refrigerator is stocked full of food and I’ve got a little money in the bank.”