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Welcome to Indiana Disability Rights New Monthly Blog Series!

IDR's Monthly Blog Series is written by our staff and guest writers each month. The blog posts discuss different initiatives, cases, or information related to disability rights.

  Click here to find archived blog posts

Most Recent Blog Post

We’ve Come a Long Way but we Have a Long Way to Go.

October 9, 2019

 By Ray Lay, Mental Illness Advisory Council (MIAC) Chair.

The average person may find some of the words that I am writing funny, hilarious, or offensive.

I find these words needed and they can be encouraging.

I am a person that lives with a dual diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and poly substance abuse issues. I have experienced both incarceration and homelessness for an extended period of time.

I have experienced living in a state-run mental institution, and endured forced treatment and physical abuse by those that were supposed to protect me. I had done nothing wrong. All that I did was develop a mental health condition.

I am one of the persons that experienced non-diagnosis and, therefore, non-treatment. While serving our country as a United States Marine, I experienced a psychotic break while on active duty. I suspect bias and stigma were contributing factors to a destructive decision that helped rob a young man of life's possibilities. Instead, that decision helped lead to me experiencing seven years of my life behind the 40 foot high walls of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City with no treatment or services for severe mental illness. At the time, the archaic treatment of individuals with mental illness were nowhere near effective. I was locked up in a cell with handcuffs and shackles until I calmed down. Even though the handcuffs and shackles have been removed, I still have not calmed down.

Ray Lay, Marine Corps Photograph

In 2002, I was finally diagnosed with psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (NOS) and made many suggestions for treatment but, due to the state of my mental health and lack of supports, I was unable adhere to any treatment plan.

At the same time, I was still struggling with poly substance abuse issues and soon became homeless. Both of these issues were exacerbated by my non treatment of my mental health issues. It was only after accepting my condition and working on all the issues that I was able to be where I am now.

I have been clean and sober for over 12 years, a homeowner for over two years, and it has been over 33 years since I last spent a night in a prison. I am honored to serve as a member of the board of directors with the Indiana Balance of State, NAMI Indiana, Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), and as chair of the Indiana Mental Illness Advisory Council at Indiana Disability Rights. I look forward to helping to bring forth much needed changes to help move both Indiana and persons living with a mental health condition forward inclusively and with the dignity that should be afforded all humans.