The following is a speech that I have not have the luxury of giving just yet but I feel like it needs to be heard so I am posting it here:
My name is Jason W. Tapscott. I am a self-published author and a CPS (Certified Peer Specialist). The series of novellas that I am currently writing is a transformation of sorts of negative times in mental hospitals and prison. I take those times and process them by fictionalizing them so that I turn a bad thing into a good thing; and if profit comes from it, so be it. If it does not, the writing process is still therapeutic. If you are curious and want to check out my writing, go to jasontapscott.com or amazon.com and search for my name. I carry around business cards with that information too so if you run into me in reality…
I am a CPS. I work at RHD (Resources for Human Development) at a center called United Peers on Ridge and Midvale in Philadelphia. It is at the end of the K bus route. I started in August so I am still a little “green.” Anyway, I will describe my work there with the following illustration:
There is a hole in the middle of the street. I don’t see it; I fall in. Eventually, I am strong enough to crawl out. That process strengthens me. Next time that I walk down that same street, I see the hole, but am unable to stop myself from falling in. Eventually, I am strong enough to crawl out. That process strengthens me. Next time that I walk down the same street, I see the hole, and am able to avoid it. Next time that I walk down that same street, I see the hole and I am aware enough to see people struggling to crawl out. I jump in the hole to help others climb out. Once I relay to them about the hole on that street and about the way to avoid it, then I have done my job. That is my role as a CPS.
Let me go back to the beginning. I experienced sexual trauma at 4 years of age at the hand of a baby-sitter. I remember nothing about it because I was so young, but I know it happened because of the emotional scars that I was left with. I was in therapy all through growing up afterwards. When I hit puberty, I started to have some real problems. I blamed my parents for the abuse that I had endured as a child. I punished them constantly with angry rebellion. It got to the point that I felt homicidal towards them. When I became aware of that extreme level of anger, I drove myself to the hospital and committed myself for the first time. Everyone praised me for my foresight and for getting help voluntarily, but I felt horrible. This happened in my senior year of high school, I believe. I was also skipping class regularly but managed to graduate. Even though I skipped a bunch of class that I was allowed to make up, I still graduated with a 4.05 GPA, which was 25th in a class of 500. So, having graduated, I went to college at the University of Pittsburgh to study neuroscience. I made (and lost) some great friends there but eventually mental illness got ahold of my mind and I withdrew from the university to return home and live with my parents. Over the next couple of year, I was in and out of therapy, homes, the hospital, other colleges, and finally prison. As a side note, during this time, I was able to obtain an Associate’s degree from a community college. At some point, I attacked my mother and went to prison for a week. My parents felt terrible and hired a good lawyer and I was set free. I cried 24/7 for that week. The feeling upon getting out was one of the greatest feelings I probably will ever have.
The next time I went to prison was 2008. For awhile, I was living out of my car. I started hearing voices, and they told me that an old friend of mine, from my time years before as a student of West Chester University, would let me live in her apartment with her. I walked right into her apartment one afternoon without even knocking. A couple of days later I was arrested for criminal trespassing. I spent three months in the mental ward of the prison in solitary confinement having hallucinations, delusions, and little in touch with reality.
Eventually, a psychiatrist at the prison moved me to Norristown State Hospital where I spent 3 or 4 years. Eventually I was charged with stalking and I was let out of the hospital. A case manager helped me find a place in Germantown to live, another home. I was very angry and rude to the staff at the home. I got fed up. My thinking was that, I knew how smart I was, why was I in a home? It was proud thinking. I grew impatient and one day in July of 2014, I set a shower curtain on fire. I let it burn for a little while, watching the satisfying orange glow from the next room. Then it dawned on me what I was doing. I sprinted downstairs to alert staff. They threw a small bowl of water on the fire and it went out. I was arrested. I spent a year in prison until July of 2015. During my prison stay, I made a lot of friends and really started contemplating the direction my life had taken. The community that existed in the prison gave my life meaning. When I got out, I lived in a different house in Germantown, but I was unhappy and tried to kill myself. Again, I found community in the hospital and started to realize that was what I needed to get well. So, in January of 2016, I moved into a home in Oak Lane but this time it was voluntary and with purpose. There, in that home, in that community, I thrived. I had hard times there too, but I count January of 2016 as the beginning of my personal recovery process. In that home, I found a community; I started writing my novellas; and I went to school online. In February of 2017, I was offered a housing voucher because I was doing so well. I moved into my own apartment, adopted a cat, and finished school with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology this past June. A couple of months before that, I became a CPS. Now, I am working, writing, and building my own natural community of family and friends. I attend church and am active in various capacities in the community at large. So I would say to you, dear reader, recovery is possible; it just takes an awareness of where you are at, where you want to go, and how to get there. Have courage! It gets better!
~jimbolawrence aka Jason W. Tapscott