The beginning of my struggle with mental illness started when I was molested at age 10. This started a downward spiral of depression that was diagnosed at age seventeen. A series of unfortunate events happened to me over the next ten years. The job that I had maintained for twenty-three years had suddenly closed; I was forced out of my house, and then raped. After all of these things happened I decided to move up north closer to my sister; it was there that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I had just received a settlement from the shop and the car accident, so I had money in the bank. Having money in the bank for someone with bipolar in a manic phase was like having a serious flame burning a hole in my pocket. I quickly spent every penny in my bank account, and started slipping into a depression. I suddenly felt alone everywhere I went, so I quit going out and I stayed home, not doing anything. No knitting, no talking with people, I just stayed in bed. I started having thoughts of suicide, so I called my caseworker and scheduled a meeting with her. Later the next afternoon I was on drugs. My mood was better, I was able to laugh and joke; people even said that I was a different person.
As time went on I started getting out more, my neighbor introduced me to her church. I was saved and I took Christ as my savior. I started a fresh life, as a person that I wanted to be, and a person that other people would want to be around.
After not seeing my family for three years, my brother called me to invite me to my nephew’s wedding. The next day I was on a bus to East Lansing where they picked me up. The wedding was on a Saturday and I had a great time. The family was welcoming and careful of me. But after two hours, everyone was treating me like a real person and not like someone sick. I felt loved and special to my family.
Another important part of my recovery has been Club Cadillac. I participate in all of the units during the work ordered day. It has given me a higher confidence and self-esteem in my life. I also work on the Lawn Crew from the spring through the fall. It has taught me the meaning of work and how to work well with others. All of the experience that I have had helped me to get a job at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Now I am working on my keyboarding skills; by doing this it gives me confidence in myself. Club Cadillac is a place where I can go to be with other people who are like me. They also help me do things that I have always wanted to do. Last September, Heather and I went to St. Louis, Missouri, to an I.C.C.D. Mid-States conference. We both attended important educational sessions about mental illnesses and clubhouses. I learned a lot about trust and financial responsibility that weekend. I was allowed to make important decisions that gave me a real sense of empowerment. It made me feel more capable and determined in my own recovery.
Overall I have learned a lot about myself. Some of my strengths are my determination, my ability to make quick and decisive decisions, I am always aware of my surroundings, and realistic in my thoughts and behaviors.