Michelle Hammer at Fountain House NYC

Mental health is often shrouded in stigma and ignorance. By sharing my story, I’m working to change that.

For me, everything began in ninth grade. I started not doing homework. I didn’t want to participate in class. I had this voice in my head, and it told me how terrible I was. I became isolated and didn’t talk to a lot of people. In school, I didn’t want to read and write papers. I thought, “What if people read my writing? They’ll know who I am.” I was paranoid all the time. The voices stopped for a brief period. But in college, they came back. I thought my roommate was trying to hurt me. I knew something wasn’t right. But at the time, I didn’t seek help. I was afraid that the entire world was out to get me.

In college, I went to a doctor in upstate New York. He put me on medication, but I had to take it three times a day. It was a struggle to remember to take it. What helped was being on the lacrosse team. My coach encouraged me ​​to take my medication. I realized that when I took it, I liked my life more. I was happier. If it weren’t for great friends and a support network through playing sports, I don’t think I would have survived college.

About Fountain House

Fountain House is a national mental health nonprofit fighting to improve health, increase opportunity, and end social and economic isolation for people most impacted by mental illness.

Drawing on more than 200 community-based social rehabilitative programs inspired by Fountain House and known as clubhouses – to reflect an insistence on belonging and acceptance – in nearly 40 states and with more than 60,000 members, we are leading a national movement for the dignity and rights of people with serious mental illness.