My name is Christopher Cumings. I am a 35 year, from Ketchikan, born and raised in Alaska. My dad was a cop and my mom was a nurse. Growing up, we moved frequently; I've lived up on the Slope, in the Interior, Anchorage, out in Bristol Bay, on Prince of Wales Island. My wife, Jamie, and I, have a 7 year old son, Charlie.
I went to college at the University of Oklahoma, where I graduated with a B.A. in Political Science, summa cum laude. I also went to law school, but ended up dropping out 3 credits short of my J.D., as a combination of addiction, undiagnosed schizophrenia, and the Great Recession sent me on a complete breakdown.
Mental illness, addiction, and disability are not just important planks on my platform. They shape how I experience life, every day. In the last few years, I have finally been able to connect with the resources I've been screaming out for over the last 15 years. I was officially diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder (a combination of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder). I got on psychiatric medications, which changed my life and unlocked a person I always knew was inside me, but who was imprisoned behind bars of fear and self loathing, and thoughts of suicide.
I've struggled with addiction all of my adult life... At the end of the day, I was just trying to do the best I could to medicate myself, with the resources I had available. The drugs worked -- but only for so long before my life began to fall apart. After my third trip to rehab, I was able to get on a Suboxone treatment program, and I've been sober ever since.
My son and I are both on the Autism Spectrum. Learning to get him the help I never received has been a bittersweet experience. The system is not set up to make it easy for families like us to get the help we need -- and that's a problem. On the flip side, going through the process has taught me how to advocate, very effectively.
My life today is simple. I work at a local nonprofit, where I provide services to individuals with disabilities, and elders. I live paycheck to paycheck. I have an embarrassingly large student loan. My truck is 16 years old, my clothes from the thrift store, my hair cut by my own hand.
I'm just some guy down the street. I'm smart and I've been around. I understand the problems we face - you face - because they're the same ones I'm dealing with. I'm open, genuine, unpretentious. I'm progressive. I'm different. I've got the kind of perspective that always goes unheard when decisions are being made. I'm here to speak up and make that change.