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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 7/7/2008

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Adrienne Young's Story

I am 27 years old and the mother of a beautiful five-year-old son. I am a daughter, a sister, and a board member of my neighborhood association. I am the executive director of a non-profit organization. I also have been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, personality disorder, severe reoccurring depression and anxiety.

My parents divorced when I was five; what followed was a difficult childhood. As I grew up, I faced alcoholism, abuse and rejection. I would miss my morning class because I couldn't get out of bed. I would then go into "hyper-achieve" mode. No one knew that, at home, I was cutting on myself and obsessing about all the horrible mistakes I had made during the day.

I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt at 17 and was restrained on a bed without sheets in a seclusion room, monitored for fear I would hurt myself. Once out of the hospital, I returned to high school, from which I graduated with honors.

I went to college for two years and even joined a sorority, but I dropped out because I was so overwhelmed by my mental health issues. I became pregnant at 20 and was in a very abusive relationship. I thought that I was going to be faced with poverty and abuse forever.

I was working with people with developmental disabilities, using person-centered planning tools, when my life began to change. I started to apply these tools to my life and began to visualize a positive future for myself, where my mental health issues could be an asset. Today I am directing a non-profit that is run and staffed completely by people with mental health issues. We are running a brokerage model of service and our agency is the only one like it in the nation. I am now able to share my story and not feel ashamed; I am proud of who I am.

Adrienne Young

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