My name is Luis... it all stated for me… at age 17… I would stay in bed for days at a time because I was too scared to come out of my room, to eat, to brush my teeth, to take my bed covers off. My mom came to my room each day to persuade me to go the bathroom and to brush my teeth. My dad often came to help me get downstairs to eat... They asked me “What’s wrong?”… I didn’t know. They convinced me to come out of my room, and go to the basement. I would sit there for hours, even days, without me saying a word. I was afraid…I did eventually come out of the basement to eat, but only after everyone went to bed...
Dad finally decided I needed help. He physically took me over his shoulder to take me to the hospital. I was scared in the house and basement; I was really scared when he took me outside… My dad, mom and sister took me to St. Mary’s Hospital anyway, where I tried to…beg my way out. They didn’t listen and I stayed for a month.
I came home from the hospital and was good for a month, then I’m scared again. This time Mom and Dad don’t waste any time. Off to Temple I go…Again I’m home a month and then off to Belmont Hospital… The same thing happened 6 more times.
A social worker tells me I’m going to a CRR. Out loud I say “OK” to, but in my head and heart I’m asking “Why? What did I do wrong? I’m only scared.” I was in CRRs a total of 12 years…While there, I learned to clean, to cook, to take my medications, and most importantly how not to be frightened of people. The other guys there helped me to gain the confidence I needed to deal with the outside world.
At COMHAR’s Beginning’s program I learned many things about myself. Then it was time to start a new chapter in my life. I took a chance and went to the Clubhouse. After 2 months they asked, “Are you ready to go to work?” I immediately said “yes” to my first job ever. I worked at the LTSR as a janitor. It wasn’t my dream job, but it was my job… Secretly I never thought I would be able to do it, but I did the entire 6 months without taking a day off. My second job was at Iovine Brothers at the Reading Terminal. I worked there for 6 months when they said they wanted to hire me permanently. I knew then all my efforts were paying off. That was in 2006. Now I have moved into a new job at Wilson’s Meat.
Right after I got my permanent job I realized it was time for another big step…I moved into my own home with my girlfriend. Shortly after…my girlfriend got hurt; she needed an operation. I took care of her during a long recovery. I have cleaned, cooked, shopped, washed, gone to work and taken care of her each day for several years. Happily she is getting better.
Through all this, I have “popped out of my shell and I’m still popping.”