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Part 1: Watching The Dominos Fall

Updated: May 6, 2019

It’s hard to wrap your head around what’s going on in another person’s mind, let alone if that person has mental illness. But this month, Mental Health Awareness Month—and every day at Big Sister League of San Diego—we try. To shed light on these efforts, we’re sharing one residents’ journey in four candid perspectives, starting with the most important one of all: Deb’s own.



The circumstances of mental illness aren’t always black and white, but they can be related to something that is: a domino—or a domino effect, that is.


Like several women who suffer from this disease, that was the case for Deb*. She’s suffered from the symptoms for what felt like light years before she got a diagnosis.


“I remember being in the third grade and not wanting to live. I’ve lived with that all of my life, because I have PTSD from childhood trauma.”


Sexual abuse and assault was Deb’s first-known domino. The second to fall came at just 10 years of age: Drugs to deal with the pain.


“I’ve been an addict since then,” she says. “I started smoking pot when I was 10.”

Then came mushrooms, LSD, cocaine, and even heroine—“I tired it one time, and thank god I didn’t like it.”


As it turns out, alcohol did the trick. “It was cheap and easy to get.”


But it also eventually got her in and out of the hospital—including three times in a two months—and once hospitalized under a 5150.