TRIGGER WARNING: This Blog contains raw human mental health struggles such as references to violence and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues and or suicidal thoughts, please contact 988 or Lifeline (988lifeline.org)
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Georgia West is a proud Self-Advocate, SUFU member who sits on the Board of Directors and lives in Caribou, Maine. Georgia moved to Maine from Indiana about 10 years ago and said it’s one of the best things that she’s done. Georgia spoke about the struggle to live on her own, make her own decisions and prosper despite the lack of support to be her own person.
Georgia has had her share of struggles and successes throughout her 50-plus years. She chose to pack up and leave her dark surroundings behind in the state of Indiana and move her and her son to Maine. Georgia said that her family of origin often impressed upon her that she couldn’t think for herself and called her crazy for making the decision to move to Maine. “I was treated like I was not a parent and even lost the guardianship of my daughter to my parents. I haven’t seen my daughter or spoken to my parents and siblings in fourteen years.”
Despite the negative things Georgia heard about herself and even as others denied her disabilities, Georgia has continued to put one foot in front of the other. Georgia earned 2 college degrees from two different colleges and sought a diagnosis for her disabilities. Georgia was diagnosed with Autism a few years ago and even though the people around her treated her as if she would never think for herself or be in charge of herself, she proved to herself she can.
Georgia says, “I could have ended my life years ago, but I decided that I wouldn’t be able to help anybody, and I know that there are some things I must do.” Georgia has accomplished more than those around her expected. She has raised her son, taken care of young children, taken care of the aged and dying and despite the dark days has looked for the positive and chose not to be bitter.
Georgia said it wasn’t at all easy and there are negative people everywhere, people that have made fun of the way I walk and talk and so what… “I’ve seen violence, and suffered trauma physically, emotionally, and mentally, two of my friends were killed, I have felt alone but I have survived, and I can walk, talk and take care of myself.”
Georgia’s message for others: “Don’t let people walk all over you, find out who you are and what you want to be, and don’t become anybody else. Don’t let anybody tell you that you won’t be able to do the things you want because I am living proof if I can do it anyone can do it”.
Georgia is the proud owner of two rambunctious cats and stays busy with friends, Self-advocacy, and explores many hobbies.