“The first time I was correctly diagnosed was at the age of 38. Unfortunately it should have been a lot sooner.
From the time I was a small child until I was 18, I was molested and raped by various father figures in my life. I didn’t know it was wrong. I didn’t know it wasn’t normal. When my twin sister and I told people, they contacted our abusers, who denied everything. It was their word versus ours. So we lived with it until we didn’t have to.
I never thought highly of myself. I thought of myself as worthless and less than a person. I had no self esteem and as a result did not have healthy relationships.
The 90s were pure chaos for me. I used drugs to cope with my trauma and I was married to a man who beat me. The abuse continued until one day my son found my husband, his father, beating me. He called the cops and said, “Dad is killing mom.” I went to the hospital for my injuries and when I was released from the hospital I went to jail, because the cops had found stolen property in our house. I had hardly noticed because of my perpetual-state of tunnel-vision– I used to cope.
I was in jail for 278 days. During my time in jail I felt anger. Lots of anger. I was angry at everyone around me because no one understood my situation. I was angry because I had pre-existing medical conditions and I wasn’t allowed to receive the medication I needed. I was angry because of the bureaucracy. I was angry because every time I was rejected for the treatment I needed, someone always responded, “this is the way it’s done.” I became loud and obnoxious hoping that someone would finally hear me.
Finally, two people did: Father Paul and Judge Fae Hoover-Grinde. They were essential in my recovery. Before I met these two, I didn’t just feel worthless. I knew I was worthless. I had accepted it as a fact and saw myself as an object. I let people control me and walk all over me. Everyone else in my life had treated me like I was a problem, these were the first people to treat me like I was a person first, with problems second. Eventually, with their guidance I was able to begin to see myself as a human being with real value.
One of the most valuable experiences that resulted from my time in jail was drug court. For the first time in my life I had structure. This mandatory structure meant my days had to be filled, and I couldn’t just sit at home and feel sorry for myself. The structure kept my mind occupied and, over time, I found purpose.. I volunteered at Goodwill, which eventually led to a paying job that helped me to support myself. And, in turn, from my newfound independence grew a passion to help others.
Today I am involved with various organizations including the East Central Region’s Regional Governing Board. I have received Mental Health First Aid training and QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) Suicide Prevention training. Helping people is the most rewarding aspect of my life and I try to help as many people in tough situations as I can.
Everyone’s situation is different, but by being honest and open about my story allows me to connect with others. The first time I shared my story I was scared… very scared, but I knew it would help me and it could help others, so I told them. And I kept telling people until I got where I am today.
Today I am not afraid to share my story. I now know that mental health is a journey. Some days are good, some days are bad, and a lot of days it feels like I’m walking through fire. But the fire doesn’t burn me anymore. Living in the present and moving forward makes me who I am.” – Corrina Todd