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LAKEWOOD -- Sakeenah Francis had a good childhood, was voted prettiest girl in her high school class, and her popularity continued in college when she was voted homecoming queen.

So it's hard to imagine that same woman walking the streets, ranting and raving, homeless, and bound for jail.

"Voices tell me to get out of Cleveland. So I see a stopped train. I climb on the train, for them to take me out of Cleveland.

Thank goodness someone called the police," she remembers. Those police officers took her to jail. When she was booked she smiled for her photo.

"One of the men said to me, 'Why are you smiling so much Sakeenah?' I said, 'I am just glad to be here!' I was so glad to have food, a roof over my head," she said, "if the police had talked to me for ten or 15 minutes, they would have known I didn't belong in jail, I belonged in the mental hospital."

The judge she would later go in front of was a former college classmate. "The last time she saw me I was waving, on the homecoming court, and the next thing years later I am up in front of her."

Today, Francis has made it her mission to educate those police officers, and really anyone who will listen, about her mental illness: schizophrenia.

Through the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, she is making sure that the pain she lived through for decades can be minimized for someone else who has the disease.

Francis was diagnosed in 1977. She was 25-years-old. A wife, and a mom, with three young children. One of them was ill.

The on-set happenedabout the time it does for most of the two million American's who have the mental illness.

"The early signs could be in late teens, early 20s. It's kind of classic to have what we call the first psychotic break, or the first aspect of the illness presents in someone that is just finishing high school to college, just beginning a career," said Dr. Toni Johnson, MD, a psychiatrist at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Schizophrenia is commonly thought of as a condition where people have multiple personalities but that is not the case. It is an illness where people hear voices, and become paranoid. They believe they need to protect themselves.

"Voices would tell me things about people in the past, what they were doing, voices would tell me things that weren't true going on around the house. I was thinking the radio was talking to me, I thought the clock was talking to me I thought the clouds were directed to me and I was getting too zealous in religion," Francis said.

Her first trip to the mental hospital came on a weekend she had to herself. She planned to relax but her mind had other plans.

"A voice told me the apartment was going to be on fire, I rushed out the house and went to a girlfriends house." Normally well-dressed and put-together Francis remembers she was disheveled and after a few days of staying with her friend she did something that still makes her shake her head decades later.

"I had the nerve to call her daughter the devil," after that, Francis had her first trip to a mental hospital. Over the years there would be many more trips and many adjustments of medications.

When things were just right life was great. For seven years she had no episodes. Francis had a steady job. She'd never held a job longer than seven-months in her life which lead her to believe, she was doing well and didn't need medication.

"I stopped taking that medicine, I became a completely different person," she said. "I was walking down the middle of the street, at midnight, ranting and raving about some religion and one of the store clerks called police, and they took me in and I thought, that was very (dangerous), because cars were honking, people were saying 'go home.'"

The relapse caused her to stop paying her rent and loose her job.

"When I put myself together I thought, I put my loved ones in a lot of turmoil, and all I have to do is take medicine -- I can see now it was nobody's fault, I stopped it myself, nobody was against me or anything like that, so for the last 15 years I've never missed a day."

The medicine makes life consistent, but what also helped, was a loving family. Each time she had an episode, no matter what point in her life, her family was always ready and willing to take her back with open arms.

With that said it's fittingthe title of the book she is writing with her daughter, who lived through those painful days with heriscalled, "Love is all that Makes Sense."

Through the book, Francis and her daughter have learned things about each other's experiences they both thought they would take to the grave.

"At night she would cry herself to sleep, Francis said."

Anika, who now lives in Atlanta, explained it wasn't easy. "When I was very young my mom was first diagnosed, so she was really struggling with her illness-- so I wasn't always sure which mom would show up."

Anika says it forced her to protect herself and grow-up fast.

"I never understood what it was like for my mom to have the illness, or how she felt about me so that helped a lot and I think it helped for me to be able to say my mom wasn't the only one who was impacted by her sickness."

The pair's book is set to be released in the Spring.

23-recovery-years later, Francis still lives in the same apartment. Her landlord knew when she stopped paying rent 15-years-ago something just wasn't right. He let her get back on her feet.

The relapsemade her realize the disease she has is strong but she will never let it overpower her again.

"Don't count us out," she said, "If we are in recovery we might be able to help the ones who helped us."

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