Jails are no place for the mentally ill. I was lucky to get out.

Twelve years ago, after a long struggle with drug addiction and mental illness, I packed my bags and left my home in New Jersey, bound for Miami and determined to make a fresh start. My brother had convinced me it would be a chance to get clean, to restore my mental health.

But the move unraveled me. My illness and addiction caused me to lose job after job, and I was becoming delusional, hearing voices and seeing hallucinations. I sold my TV and computer because I believed they were sending satellite signals to control me. I thought people were following me, coming to break into my apartment at night. My paranoia kept me up for weeks, wandering the streets in bad neighborhoods, constantly looking over my shoulder. Because I didn’t understand my illness, I never sought the treatment I needed. Looking back, I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked when I found myself staring into the lens of a booking camera, arrested on petty theft charges after the voices told me to steal.

– The Washington Post

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