(calming music) - I am Lloyd Johnson Hale II.
I am the second because I was named after my grandfather.
I'm a certified peer support specialist here in the state of South Carolina.
I was born in Oklahoma, lived all up and down the east coast, and now I live here in Columbia, South Carolina where I provide as much help as I can to other people living in recovery.
My great grandmother spent quite a bit of time raising us and helping my mom raise us.
My father did a lot of time, so it was just the women in the family that took good care of us growing up, so.
But it was good.
You know, we always had what we needed and we got what we wanted sometimes.
So we just, we cherish those moments when we got what we wanted.
When I recall my symptoms starting out I was about 13 years old.
I was in the Department of Juvenile Justice and I had to do some community service.
After that 30 days, I had to do community service.
For part of that community service was picking up trash in the projects where I lived.
Found my first bag of weed while I was picking up the trash with that stick with the nail on it.
So we called a friend of mine, you know, we rolled it up and we smoked.
I was walking down the street after I smoked, I was walking down the street and I saw a guy who hadn't seen me in a while because I was actually in the Department of Juvenile Justice.
So he was like, "Yo, man, where you been?
I ain't seen you in a while, where you been?"
I said, "I'm doing community service."
He said, "Well, how many hours do you have?"
And I said, "80."
And in my mind the word eighty just kept echoing over and over.
It was 80 (echoes) That's kinda how my symptoms begin and it just transitioned into me believing that I could have conversations with people in my brain.
People, as they talk about schizophrenia, they talk about hearing voices or responding with voices.
For me it was those voices were people that I knew, people that if I heard your voice and I saw your face, I could actually have a conversation with you, what I thought to be in my mind or over time, it changed into thinking that it was a third world.
Over time that looked like, I was more quiet.
I wouldn't talk out loud as much.
It took quite a while for other people to understand that I had mental problems.
It took quite a while.
Even though I was struggling with my stuff, I fit in with everyone that was doing the things that we were doing.
And I smoked a lot.
So often times when anything was strange happening with me, someone could easily just say, "You know, Lloyd, you smoke too much.
You need to go sleep that off," or, "You had too much to drink.
You need to go sleep that off."
As I'm going through these symptoms of...
Symptoms that I don't even realize it happened.
No one around me knows what's happening.
And I believe, I believe that's because of several reasons.
One being that the folks in my area were all struggling with one thing or another.
We lived in the projects, so people had financial issues.
They had issues with people who wasn't friends going to prison.
So everyone had something going on so I can't imagine that people in the immediate neighborhood, even in my family could even pause long enough to recognize anything strange going on with me because there was strange things going on with them, you know?
Secondly, is I'm not sure that, as a young Black man, I'm not sure I was high on the priority scale.
You know that when I look back at the many different facets of being 15, 14, 16, when I look at school, I wasn't connected in band or sports or extracurricular activities, people who were the decision-makers and the the real shakers and movers in our community.
I can't say that I was relevant to notice.
I had just gotten to a point where I was functioning with the voices.
It was a part of my life at this point.
Around the same time I'm having this conversation with my mom.
She says, "Lloyd, my boyfriend has a problem.
Can you help him?"
I'm like, you know, "What's the problem?"
She said, "Well, he wants to die, but he doesn't want to kill himself.
Can you help?"
And for me it was instantaneous.
I can do it.