S3: Fine Line - Episode 15 - Jaime

Episode Information

Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness – Episode 15 – Jaime

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Season three Fine Line narrative histories about mental health and mental illness, a traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. May you find insight and understanding in these voices. Episode Fifteen, Jaime.

Jaime:  I am homeless right now, and I consider myself very well educated. But I’m going to tell you, don’t be naive. I don’t care if you’re a doctor or a lawyer. I know two Vietnam veteran pilots who are here on the streets. Mental illness, discriminates no one. You could be here too if you are not careful. I have mental illness condition due to my chronic pain, and due to post-traumatic stress disorder panic attacks, you never know when they’re gonna happen. They can happen in the middle of the night during the day, during dinner. I think they’re one of the more disabling things. Your heart will pound in your chest. You can hear it in your head. It can make you think you’re going crazy. You think you’re having a heart attack. The depression can be unbearable.

When I was 16, I was presented to the community as a debutante. Uh, I remember the dress I had on was quite beautiful. It was full. I remember the dancing. I was very nervous. It was a very grand evening. I’ve always had the finer things in life. I have lived in the Ritz Carlton. I’ve lived in the most beautiful embassies in, in Italy and France. I’ve skied Switzerland. Then. I was so proud and so young, so full of hope, and now it’s so empty. I guess I feel like an older person looking back at the, the heyday of their life. And, and I try every day to make a difference in somebody else’s life, so that my life will count for something.

I I do blame myself. I put myself in the position to become pregnant, and I didn’t listen to my instincts. And I allowed two men to put me in a gray area, and I will never let it happen again. Ever. So help me God, I understand rage emphatically, and it can consume you. It can kill you too. Not just physically, but emotionally. You must be aware. There was a man when I was walking outside the front. He grabbed my chest and I slugged him, and I had to stop myself from hitting him again because if I hadn’t stopped myself from the second punch, it would’ve turned into extreme rage and I would’ve killed him.

I think it’s unfair that people don’t take time to see how we got here. Not all of us are drug addicts or murderers. Uh, pedophiles I’m, a Desert Storm Veteran. There’s a million female Desert Storm Veterans, and they’re just cast aside as if everything that we did was just useless. I think the only time that I can truly escape from the hell and the, the hell and the torment of everything I feel was when I used to go horseback riding. And I felt like whatever was chasing me couldn’t catch me. And it’s not like me to run. I’ll attack first, and I don’t have that now. I feel trapped by everything around me. It’s like being in jail and there’s no way out. And you can be as strong as you want to be. Somehow I’ll find my way out. I hope.

[Outro Music]

Host:  In season three, Fine Line, mental health mental illness, these voices and stories are about standing. I met Jamie in a homeless shelter. It was summer and inside it was over 110 degrees. So hot, so difficult. We spent two days together. Jamie was desperate. She talked about her major depression, anxiety, panic attacks, hopelessness, her pregnancy. So many questions circling around struggle.       Jamie went into labor three days after we talked. I visited her in the hospital. She told me that Catholic Charities was taking care of her, giving her a room to live in with her new baby girl, offering support. Mental illness is not caused by a weakness of character. Jamie’s story is open, honest, direct, and authentic. She invites us to listen. A voice has a power. What does it feel like to be that person? Thank you, Jamie, for your courage, your voice, and your presence. I’m Michael Nye. You can go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for Jamie’s portrait and transcript. Thank you for listening.