Donna: My Story

In high school I felt fine, but I was picked on for how I looked. Also, I had “mono” in my senior year and was concerned whether I would graduate with my class in 1986 at Forest Area High School. I did graduate, but afterwards I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life and I felt a lot of stress. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I had my first “mental breakdown” and my mother helped to have me hospitalized. I was at Munson Hospital in Traverse City for one month and I remember the nurses as being very kind to me. My mom and dad also helped me through this. The medical staff wanted to transfer me to the State Hospital in Traverse City, but my mother said “no.” Munson diagnosed me with depression and for the first time in my life I was put on medication. The medication was a good thing and helped to stabilize my life.

I went back home, but was told that I was not able to work and was determined to be disabled. However, I was able to hold a part-time job at McDonald’s in Kalkaska for five years and again after moving downstate with my father. In the 1990’s I moved back to Fife Lake and not long after I moved to an apartment in Cadillac. I met my soon-to-be husband who was living in the front apartment. My husband was very controlling and it was a stressful marriage. After four years, my husband left me for another woman. This was a traumatic event for me and my mother invited me back to live with her.

Eventually I got my own apartment in Fife Lake and lived on my own for 17 years. During this time, I was pretty stable and was hospitalized only briefly. I am a quiet person and enjoy living on my own, but also having my family and friends nearby. I would sometimes lose my key or lock myself out of my apartment but the key was my responsibility and meant I was in control.

At some point, my medications got confused and I wasn’t taking them as I should. This led to my next hospitalization at Munson. After being released, I moved into an Adult Foster Care (AFC) home. However, not long after I moved into the home, I was hospitalized again, this time for two months in Sault Saint Marie. Afterward my mother and sister helped me move to another AFC home in Cadillac.

It was difficult to learn to live with a large group of people after being on my own for so long. I’m beginning to like my current home at Pleasant Lake Lodge but I would still like to eventually live on my own again. I have made new friends and have had some great experiences. The most memorable was this past summer at Mackinac Island with other members of Club Cadillac. I have also stayed in touch with my old friends. I appreciate having my mom and dad, my sister and my nieces and nephew in my life. All these people have been very supportive.

The one thing I learned throughout my life is that Friends and Family are important to me.