Jose Martinez of Waterbury knows what it’s like to be on the outside.
He grew up in an abusive family where his father didn’t want him to follow his interest in art. He was bullied in school. “I never could be a part of things,” he says. “I was always being attacked for the way I was acting. I had no idea.”
“I have always tried to fit in and have gotten into trouble for doing stupid things to fit in,” he says. “It got me into bad places. I didn’t know how to control what was wrong.”
Initially Martinez turned to alcohol to try to help. “I substituted alcohol because I didn’t know I had mental health issues,” he says, noting he was in countless rehabs before finally becoming sober. Getting a mental health diagnosis has helped him finally feel as if he is moving in the direction he wants to go.
“I’m starting to see things slowly. I feel like I woke up from something,” he says. “From 1990 I feel like I fell into a time warp and I’m catching up now.”
Returning to the art he loves creating is helping Martinez as well. He participates in the Mending Arts program offered by Mental Health Connecticut. “I was always interested in art. I used to hide myself in that,” he says. “Through the art, things started clearing up. I was less and less wanting to do the things I was into.”
Martinez is sharing his story in the hopes that people will stop making assumptions about people with lived experience. “We have to let people know that we are individuals,” he says. “You’d be surprised by what a lot of us can do. People have to stop labeling.”
“Maybe we cannot do three special things at work but if I concentrate on one thing, that’s all you need,” he adds. “Assumptions are not the answer. You know what happens where everybody assumes. We are all here with a purpose. Every single one of us.”
Each day in May, you will meet a new face and a new lived experience, because #LetsFaceIt there is no one-sized fits all when it comes to our wellbeing. View past posts here.
Looking for resources or support in CT but don’t know where to start? Contact MHC’s free Information & Referral line: https://www.mhconn.org/education/information.