“I’m a veteran, and I’ve been on these streets for 34 years. I have schizoaffective disorder and two types of PTSD. I can live in an apartment building, but only if I’m on the first floor and there are two exits and a fire escape. Otherwise, I get paranoid.
I take three medications: Valium, Haldol, and Cogentin. Haldol takes care of the schizoaffective disorder, so I don’t hear the stuff you don’t hear. Cogentin minimizes the side effects. It took the psychiatrists 40 years to figure out which medications I need. First, they are supposed to take 45 minutes to talk to you, but they make a five-minute diagnosis and write up the prescriptions. Then, they don’t listen to you, and they want you to take the medications that they didn’t talk to you about. I’ve been on medications for 41 years, and I know what works for me. They tell you, ‘You don’t want to take the right medications. You just want to get high.’ If I wanted to get high on drugs, I’ll be out there doing that. This works for me and I can get my life together and stabilize myself.
You are the doctor: You are supposed to listen to me and analyze. We are supposed to talk about the medications, and I have the right to decide which ones I want to take. Don’t just write up meds you never talked to me about.”
Portraits of Boston is a project of independent photographer Ivan Velinov. He is regularly sharing some of his favorite portraits with WBUR. Visit his website to see the hundreds of portraits he has taken on the streets of Boston.