In Our Own Voice
   

Doug

DougI was a child. I used to hear them (voices) in the background. I thought someone was talking to me, from a distance, yelling at me.

I dropped out because I felt like everybody hated me everywhere.

I hear 'em (voices) all day long. I get in conversations with them. Sometimes I'm hearing some bad words and I won't mention them. Other times I'm hearing good conversations, you know. It sounds like there's a radio in my ears.

I believe I have a problem. I cannot explain it. The doctor has his opinion. And I have mine. I feel my brain is burning on fire because of a radio.

When you're in the hospital usually you can't get out unless you have a place; you can't get out except to a shelter home. And then the shelter, I'd stay in one for a while, I can't handle this, I'm going to run away. I'm going to find a job somewhere, so I'd head into the mountains, you know. So then I'd get arrested for vagrancy or something, they'd pick me up and send me back to the hospital and then they'd send me back to a shelter home. I was going in a circle.

They told me I couldn't get a job, because we want to make sure I get my checks coming in. That's what they would tell me. That you gotta keep your checks. That's why you're staying here. And they would be my payee; I wasn't my own payee like I am now.

I don't know about that word schizophrenia. It means something to the doctors. To me it's just a word that I learned to dislike really, cause I was in the hospital and all they would do for me is give me medication and tell me I'm schizophrenic, that's why I'm there. And it really got me mad. I needed fundamentals; I needed to really improve myself.

I have a lot more support from my caseworker than I have had from anyone throughout the entire 18 years. She really tried to get me involved. I feel very fortunate and I don't take it for granted.

I look at people and it looks like they have a lot more problems than what I do.