Victoria Molta's Story
I have lived with a severe mental illness, schizoaffective disorder, for over 20 years. It began in college with depression, psychosis and anxiety that were triggered by the stress of studies and an abusive boyfriend. I believe that the loneliness of living with a mental illness was the most difficult part of it. My family distanced themselves from me and, through subsequent moves to different states, I virtually cut myself off from my past - my family and the friends I grew up with. In the end, I had no place to live. Finally, in l986, I was flown to Connecticut in a drugged state after being released from a mental hospital to live with my mother.
My recovery began when I stayed put long enough to receive help and not run away from the pain. In my early twenties, I was admitted to a partial hospitalization program and put on the waiting list for a halfway house. I was given a diagnosis for my mental illness and finally moved into the halfway house, called "Interlude," at the age of 25. My counselors believed in me and I slowly began to get better. I had setbacks over the years, but none so low as when I spent three months locked up on a ward and was given ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). After that, I was determined to stay out of the hospital - and I did.
I am a writer and have been published in a number of mental health publications. My writing is my greatest form of expression and helps me release my emotions. I have kept dozens of journals. I am also an avid reader. I have a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Vermont , have done graduate work in community counseling and have a certificate in Gerontology with a 4.0 average. Currently, I am employed at NAMI in Wethersfield as a coordinator of two consumer programs, In Our Own Voice and Peer-to-Peer. I recently began working full time and got off social security entitlements for disability.
Stigma within my own family prevents me from engaging with them. I feel very sad about this.
In l990, I began advocacy work, worked as a residential counselor for a mental health agency, marched in rallies and attended conferences around the country. I married a man I knew from "Interlude." He had substance abuse problems but has been sober for 12 years. We have been in love for 17 years and recently celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary in the home we own together. He is my greatest support and the true love of my life. We help each other on this sometimes perilous, sometimes unpredictable, but always mysterious journey called "life."