What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted bJolene.

Photo by: Volkan Olmez 

I am 33 years old and on disability for a mental diagnoses and up until 2015 I had never been discriminated against because of it. Being on a fixed income I chose to live with college students because it was cheaper that way. I shared a house with three other females and the landlord knew that I was on disability and wasn’t a college student myself before I signed the lease.

For the first month thing’s were okay, at that point I was the only one living in the house and the other girls and I had contact with each other through text messages. After the girls moved in, we had disagreements and the landlord started making rude comments about people with mental illnesses that really made me uncomfortable and I wanted to find some where else to live.

Another girl in the house continuously called the police on me claiming that I was crazy and she was scared I was going to kill her in her sleep. After the third time the police came to the house they informed me that if they came one more time, they were arresting me.

The day before labor day of 2015, I was getting ready to lay down when there was a hard knock at my bedroom door. The landlord was there and I put my shoes on and grabbed the lock I had to lock my door because I had a feeling I was going to get arrested and I was right.

I called my mom and asked her and my step father to come to the house because I didn’t want to be there. As I was turning to lock my door, all of a sudden my landlord grabbed me hard by my arms, so hard that I had bruises of her hand prints on both my arms the next day. As I tried to get away from her, she stumbled and fell down one step and then screamed that I tried to push her down the stairs. Later I found out that she was recording everything on her iPhone.

I walked down stairs just trying to get away from her and went to sit outside. Just as I expected, two police cars pulled in front of the house and the same officers that had previously been there told me to stand up and put my hands behind my back.

I knew this was bullshit but I did so anyway and they placed me in the back of one of the police cars, I knew my mom & step father were on their way so with tears running down my face and having no idea what I was being charged with I continued to look out the car window. While I was sitting in the back of the car, two more police cars showed up. The officer got in the police car and my phone was ringing constantly, I knew it was my mom calling.

We got to the station and I was booked and put in a room by myself, The officer told me at first that I would be out in a couple of hours but later came back and said I would have to go see the judge and had to stay until morning. He also informed me that I was being charged with assault and that the landlord also wanted an order of protection.

I sat in the jail cell crying in disbelief that I was really in a situation where I was assaulted and also arrested, I had spent 31 years of my life without a record and now I had one. I could no longer say no to the “have you ever been arrested?” question.

The next morning I went before the judge and was released OR, but also told that there was an order of protection in place so I could not return to where I was living. The thoughts going through my head at that point were: I had been assaulted, arrested and now I was homeless.

I was lucky in this sense as I stayed with my mom and step father for three days and quickly decided that I didn’t want to live in a roommate situation any longer. I went out and looked for another apartment and on the third day found one and I am still living in the same apartment.

I lost almost everything I owned and only got my clothes and a handful of other items out of the house.

I went to court two weeks after I was arrested and the judge dropped the charges 6 months after, the charges were officially dropped on March 29th, 2016.

The sad thing is that I had to go through this experience to realize that mental illness is still very much a stigma. There are people out there that truly believe that people who are diagnosed as such are monsters and that can’t be further from the truth.

People who know me, know that I am the sweetest person who is always helping others out and would take the shirt off my own back if someone needed it. I am not violent and would never throw someone down a flight of stairs as this women claimed.

I want people to know that this is still happening to people and also don’t believe everything you see on TV or in movies about people who suffer from a mental illness. We are just like you, who happen to suffer from a disease that we can not control.

This women was never charged with lying to the police as I believe she should have. I would never wish what I went through on anyone.