I’m From Frankfort, NY.

by Priscilla James

Satellite overhead image of New York State from Google Earth 2022

I was always raised in a Christan home. My parents always worked hard to help us kids. My family comes from Jamaica, but I was born here in the United States. I take a lot of pride in my family’s heritage. Growing up was hard because I had left a Christan school called Mt. Zion in Utica, New York and began going to public schools. I was very nervous and I struggled throughout high school always wanting to fit in and be popular. I hated myself because I was living a life no one would imagine. I was gay and afraid. I told some of my friends growing up that I struggled with identity issues and whether or not I wanted to be with a man or a woman. I lived a separate life not knowing what to do. My parents’ marriage was failing and my father was abusive to my mom. My mom got enough courage to leave him even though she lived in fear. She stood by her faith and never gave up hope that things were going to get better. This was all going on when I was 16.

I had dealt with some abuse when I was about 12. I always held it inside because I was ashamed. I had many friends, some who gave up on me and walked away because my lifestyle was out of control. I was drinking a lot, partying more than ever. I got into doing drugs and that’s when my life changed forever. I started getting so heavily into drugs that I started getting very depressed. My relationships weren’t always the greatest and I would always pull away. I broke hearts. I lived my life in chaos. I had lost jobs over the years. I always felt alone and that no one could help me.

I’m 26 years old now. There was one person that always made me feel like I was alive and that was my high school sweetheart. I knew I loved her more than anything in the world but I turned her world upside down. I never could forgive myself for that along with many other things. I was a broken soul that needed lots of help and on October 15th, 2010, I did the scariest thing you could imagine. I overdosed on pills. These pills were all half bottles of hydrocodone, flexeril, and paxil. I had cocaine and beer in my system, too. I wanted to die so bad and, well, I did.

My mom said God told her to go upstairs and she found me with a note, passed out slowly dying. I had burned my face with a cigarette. I’d left a letter telling my mom I would never fit in and that I had identity issues for a long time. Well my mom called the ambulance were she works and they rushed me to the hospital. That’s when everyone in my family waited to hear my fate. Well my mother had shouted at the top of her lungs saying we need a miracle and told the doctors that they needed one that time, then the doctors said they were loosing me. My mom called the pastor of the church I was born in, Mike Servello, and his wife Barb Servello of Redeemer Church, and they all prayed for me in the church. Then my aunts in New York City put my name across the radio for prayer and I had woken up the next day. I was in a coma for a long time. When I woke up, I looked at my mom and her friend that kept my mother company the whole time and I asked, “What’s the matter? Why are you crying?” They nearly passed out.

I was in Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital in the ICU. They brought me to the part of the hospital where I could get a new liver. My liver completely failed on me, but I never had to get a new one because I was healed. I was there for a month. I had to learn how to walk all over again and it was about three weeks before I could get my energy back because I was so weak. The doctors that worked with me explained I had a disorder called Bi-polar and major depression. I never knew I had this all these years. I knew I was depressed my whole life but couldn’t figure out why. Well from there I left to another hospital called MVPC in Utica, New York. I was there for 6 months and it was the hardest thing I ever went through in my whole life. I did everything I was told to do. And that kept me from staying there any longer. I told my doctor that I would do whatever it takes to get my life back together and when I told him that he was surprised because he never knew what I meant that day. Well he diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Anxiety. Well after knowing about my disorders and learning about them, I challenged myself to stay focused on getting out and becoming clean and I went straight to McPike Rehab center.

I only left the hospital about 4 times out on pass because I had wanted to recover and do it without any distractions. Going to rehab was fun. I ended there I wanted to go to this place called Conaford Park, another rehab place were they had a buffet and a pool. I really wanted to go and got my hopes up, but then was told I was going to McPike. When I was there I was a little afraid but knew if I could go through two other hospitals and do this, it’s worth it. And my counselor loved me there. A lot of people liked me even in the hospitals. I was always worried what people would think about me and now I’m a lot stronger than I was before. This place was a great place for my recovery. I was so proud of myself when I got my medallion with the Serenity Prayer on it. I carry it everywhere I go.

When I talked and gave my speech, I thought of what my mom always says. “No matter what any of you do or what you have gone through, everyone deserves a second chance.” And she was right. I was given back my life and I’m here today to share my story, and my journey and what I had to do to get here. I did it all on my own and I am ten months sober today. October 16th will be one year for me. I’m going the long way and staying happier with my medications, great friends to talk to when I need help and a loving church that supports me. My life is totally changed and I’ll never be the same person again. Now you can catch me volunteering in church  or doing some kind of benefit walk, plus my favorite hobby Zumba salsa dancing. I have a large support network and I know what to do when I need help. You see, I spent my whole entire life suicidal always afraid to tell my mother and we share such a bond now that I have been very blessed and fortunate. My father died on December 21, 2007, and my grandfather died just four days later. It was a very hard year for my family so even with that I kept all my feelings inside about how I felt about it. I never got the closure I wanted because the burial was done without us and I always blamed myself but it was never my fault. I say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and I learned a lot of lessons out of this to just talk about it. You don’t have to fit in to be popular and i am unique for a reason. We all have a plan and purpose and I’m just glad I’m able to help others and reach out to them especially because I know how it feels to not have anyone to go to. This is my story and I consider myself a miracle, more than just a hero. Now my life is starting its new chapter of happiness.

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