My name is Patrick R. I am 47 years old. I was diagnosed “Paranoid Schizoaffective with Depression” when I was 34. That was when I had my first suicide attempt. I had 4 more suicide attempts after that. I started drinking at 12, and started smoking pot when I was 13. I started using harder drugs when I was about 21.
I’ve been in the hospital for my mental illness so many times I’ve lost count. I’ve only been in one rehab and that was for alcohol. In the final days of my using drugs I was smoking cocaine everyday. This was about the time I had my last suicide attempt. I was 38 years old. I had lost everything and I was addicted to crack cocaine. Feeling very paranoid and depressed I felt that there was no other way out but suicide. So I took a bottle of my mom’s prescription pills to kill myself. The next morning I was still alive. My mom got up to take her meds and they were gone. I told her what happened and she called crisis. They took me to the hospital, pumped my stomach and I stayed there for 3 weeks. From that hospital I was sent to Essex County Hospital. I was there for about 5 months.
My mother had found out about Project Live. Two people came to the hospital to see me from Project Live and asked me if I was interested in living in one of their houses. I said yes. I moved in February of 2001. By May of 2001 I relapsed on alcohol. I was drinking everyday for 3 weeks. The counselors at the house found out and they put me in rehab at Bergen Pines for a month. It was there I discovered not only was I a drug addict but also an alcoholic. I started doing better when I got out of rehab. I got a sponsor in AA, a home-group, lots of phone numbers and went to a lot of meetings. I also got a job with Project Live Maintenance Crew working one day a week.
Today I am working full time 5 days a week. I am off of Social Security. I have my own apartment in Bloomfield NJ. I just bought a new car. I still have the same sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous. I still make meetings every day. Life is good. I don’t think I could have done any of this without the help of Project Live. They showed me and taught me that I could live without the use of drugs and alcohol and be happy most of the time. I thank God that they rescued me from a life of misery and despair.