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Georgia Ann Cowell, dealing with bipolar and schizophrenia, bounces back from homelessness

Schizophrenia led Georgia Ann Cowell to homelessness. In the years since, she's been able to find good people to help her live independently.

Georgia Ann Cowell had her first medical episode when she was in her 20s. It’s about this time most schizophrenia cases develop, between adolescence and age 30.

“I had episodes at my aunt’s house,” Cowell said. “My aunt was yelling real loud, and I was hiding in the closet. It was like she was after me.”

That’s when Cowell was "Baker Acted” for the first time.

Not knowing where to find help, Cowell found herself homeless. She was homeless for more than 10 years.

“I got homeless because there was nowhere else to go,” she said. “I started sleeping on the cement. And I would yell at these voices coming at me. I would yell loud.”

Schizophrenia affects approximately 2 million Americans today.

“My friends that I met who worked at a dental office near the woods I stayed in befriended me,” Cowell said. “They convinced me to try and find a home to live in.”

Cowell now lives independently in her own apartment, thanks to Gracepoint Wellness in Tampa.

The complex Cowell lives at allows her to have access to fully integrated medical and mental health care, substance treatment services, pharmacy and on-site social services -- all offered through Gracepoint.

“My life is better. I have friends,” Cowell said. “I have a good place to live. I get my medication. I’m stabilized.

“You have to do your best to believe that someone will help you. I never thought I’d be adjusted and have my own place.”

More: Question about mental health? Resources connect you to need-to-know information

Related: By the numbers: 14 interesting facts, statistics on mental illness

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