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My bipolar began showing itself when I was 7, but my first suicide attempt was at 11. My psychiatrist made a house call and put me on lithium the next day.


The following year I was hospitalized for the first of seven times and removed from my school and put into a day school for special needs children.


In ninth and tenth grade I went to a character building school where the punishment for everything was manual labor and exercise. In 11th grade I was expelled for self injury. My parents placed me in a residential treatment center, where the answer to everything was overmedication.


I graduated at 20 and went right into a group home for the mentally ill. It was an adult assisted living program for women who had a hard time with basic daily activities. I saw what my future was going to be if I never became healthy, so I saved up some paychecks to move into housing at the YWCA, where I lived for the next 9 years.


I got hired at 17 as a bagger in a grocery store with a job coach while I lived in my residential treatment center. 16 years later I’m a full time bakery clerk with benefits. I also married the cashier supervisor (who was my boss).


I discovered performance poetry and began writing and reciting my poems in the NYC poetry scene. This gave me an outlet for my pain. I met a lot of people with similar issues and finally felt less alone. I’ve written a book of poems about my journey through the mental health system called “A Bed with my Name on it”. For every book I sell I donate $1 back to the YWCA. I also wrote a book of poems about all my customers called, “Supermarket Diaries”.


I now perform and give presentations in poetry venues and college English classes, while working full time at the supermarket, married to the love of my life with three wonderful cats. I made it out to the other side.


You can find my books and poems at my website ninabelenrobins.com.