By Crystal Jenkins
In April 2019, things seemed to be really looking up for me. I had just obtained permanent supportive housing after being homeless for approximately seven years. I had a history of alcohol and occasional drug use, but at this point I had been clean for some time.
Then, in August of the same year, I started hearing voices. The voices eventually stopped in March 2020, but not without turmoil, fear and loss. Within that short period of time, I was evicted, went to jail and lost guardianship of my nine-year-old daughter.
The things I heard were very scary, perverse and threatening. The voices were always people I knew like my son, brother, friends and even former supervisors. I would hear comments, conversations and commands. The commands came with threats to harm my daughter. The comments were always perverse and occurred during times when I was bathing or changing clothes.
The voices sounded so clear that I thought someone put Bluetooth speakers in my apartment and talked to me that way. I guess because the voices were of people that I knew, I listened to them and reacted.
The voices would tell me to do things, often followed by a threat.. Things like, "smoke meth or I'm going to kill your daughter” or “don't smoke menthols or your son will get hurt” or “come outside mama” (in my son’s voice). So with dread and out of fear, I listened. I can't tell you how many times I went outside looking for a family member because that’s what I was “told” to do.
There was some part of my brain that knew something was off, but I still had no idea it was voices I was hearing. I remember thinking, "What's wrong with my family? Why do they hate me? How and when did they get so perverted? I need to somehow save my little girl from all this."
I would call the police often and send instant messages to the police department and the FBI. I made a few online police reports as well.
I went to my landlord and confided in the housing support specialist where I lived about what was happening. I started going to management almost daily asking them questions based off what I heard. Once or twice, I went to them scared and crying because I had heard that my daughter was being molested by my own family and best friend.
The final incident happened when I went out to the apartment hallway, thinking that I needed to defend or rescue my daughter, and began questioning who was saying she had been abused. I don’t recall knocking on anyone's door but I do remember arguing with an unhappy neighbor in that hallway. When I finally went back to my apartment, I messaged the police and fire department for help.
The police soon arrived at my door and served me with a restraining order from yet another unhappy neighbor. They asked me if I would be willing to go to the mental health center and I agreed. Before leaving my apartment, the police asked me if I had threatened anyone with a knife, to which I explained what I thought I had heard and that I was scared and only trying to protect my daughter. They responded with “okay” and then proceeded to take me to the mental health center.
While in the middle of my assessment, the officer came to me, put my hands behind my back and put handcuffs on me. I was in jail for a month until I got bailed out. Due to the pandemic, I have yet to go to court and my case is still pending. I am no longer hearing voices, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the people handling my case.
Currently, I am fighting the charges against me and trying to regain guardianship for my daughter, who I am unable to even have unsupervised visits with. I was also evicted from my apartment.
I lost everything important to me due to mental illness. Is there any legal help out there? I feel the judges, the courts, the appointed guardian are all treating me as if I am a cold-hearted criminal. I feel I am being punished and treated unfairly for being sick. I haven't been able to tell my side of things at all to anyone.
Who can advocate for me?
Crystal is now a Home Health Aide for In-Home Support Services and is hoping to move into a case manager position. She aspires to one day have her own residential care facility and to write a book.
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