These were the first words which came out of the mouth of Cheryl Miller yesterday, as she celebrated her newfound freedom after having spent 15 days incarcerated at Ward One of the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital.
On Friday, through the intervention of several attorneys hired by the Public Services Association, a writ of habeas corpus was filed and Miller, an accountant with the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, was ordered released from the mental institution into her sister’s care.
On March 21, Miller had been forcibly removed from her office by mental health workers following what she claimed was a case of her “standing up for her rights”. She had been kept there since then, despite protests from her co-workers and other concerned citizens.
When Sunday Newsday visited Miller at her home at Chinatown, Belmont yesterday, she had just minutes before awakened from a deep sleep and said she was extremely happy to be home, especially in time to celebrate the Easter holiday with her family and friends.
Happy to be reunited with her three pet cats — Jub Jub, Rainbow and Jungle — Miller smiled and laughed as the cats, too, seemed equally happy to have Miller back as they played in between her feet as she stood in the gallery of her home chatting with Sunday Newsday.
As her sister Doreen looked on and smiled during the interview yesterday, Miller recalled the nightmare of being locked up at St Ann’s and revealed how her life has changed since that eventful day.
“I am getting accustomed to being back home because it was a kind of prison I was in,” she said.
Miller told Sunday Newsday she now knows the meaning of freedom, as hers had been illegally curtailed and up to now she does not know why.
“I could not even open a window and now being back home, I have that freedom to move around, to walk and talk as I want again,” Miller said.
Miller said six months ago, she was transferred from the Ministry of Sport to her current posting at the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development and that since then to now, she has been a victim of “harassment” by a female co-worker. Miller said although she had not taken any steps to file a formal complaint against the woman, she had mentioned the matter several times to senior persons in the hope that it could be resolved. However, when nothing was done, Miller said she spoke up about it one day in her office.
“I just spoke my mind and stood up for myself,” she said.
Grateful for the outpouring of support she has received, not only from her colleagues but the public at large, Miller said she has also been receiving calls from persons living in the US who have been following the matter on the internet.
“It feels good to know people care about you and what you are going through,” she said, adding, “I have continued to pray and thank God for giving me the strength and courage to deal with it.”
Acknowledging that it was Newsday who had first broken the story about her plight, Miller said she was not worried about her future and intends to meet with the ministry’s Human Resource Officer on Tuesday when she returns to her workplace.
Revealing that the permanent secretary had visited her and has asked her to comply with “the regulation given”, Miller would only say that meant “I should take my medication.”
Asked what medication she had been placed on and what medical condition she had been diagnosed with, Miller declined comment.
Instead, she said, “I don’t know what will happen and what God has planned for me, but I am not afraid.”
She added, “I am catching myself and feeling a little better everyday.”
Many have questioned the manner in which Miller was forcibly removed from her office and taken to St Ann’s, especially given the absence of any previous diagnosis that she had mental problems.
Yesterday, Miller’s sister, Doreen, also told Sunday Newsday that while she is extremely relieved and glad to have her sister back home, she does not want anyone labelling Miller a mad person.
“My sister is not mad or violent, she just spoke her mind and they just came and took her and lock her up,” Doreen said.
Extending their heartfelt thanks to Miller’s two colleagues who “had stood up with Cheryl” about what happened on that fateful day, both Doreen and Cheryl said they were honest and truthful with the authorities.
Unsure of how her long holiday weekend would go, Miller said she is also hoping to make it to church to praise God and give thanks.