“I came to AuSable Valley CMH after overdosing on drugs and nearly dying. I had been involved in counseling for severe abuse issues but my pattern was to run away or stop going when I got to a certain stage in treatment. When I felt like opening up, I would just stop going. After nearly dying, I was motivated to stop using drugs and follow through with treatment. Through therapy, my grandmother began talking about her own abuse history and this helped me tell my story. At one point, I became frightened and ran away for a few days. I committed to changing and to take recovery seriously. I created goals; graduate, pass all of my classes, not use drugs, and not get into any fights. I resumed therapy. The group session was very helpful knowing I wasn’t the only one who suffered from abuse and addiction, I could relate to them. I turned to drugs for happiness and to escape. I am happier now than I have been in a while. I find it easier to talk to people and open up about things. Expressing my feelings has helped me feel calmer, more self-confident and raised my self-esteem. Hearing other people talk about their abuse has helped me feel like it wasn’t my fault. I discovered it had nothing to do with me and I will be ok.”
“As a consumer of the mental health system, I have received many experiences within the mental health system. I was originally diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder and was put on medications to help cope with my problem. Then in 1982, I got married. I became involved with the AuSable Valley Mental
Health System in 1984. I have had many different psychiatrists throughout the years at AuSable Valley Mental Health. I have also been involved with a number of support groups. They were very helpful to me. I am currently involved with the Case Management Support groups at the AuSable Valley Mental Health. I am also involved in the Northern Affiliation Regional Consumer Council, Consumer Advisory Panel, and the PQI meetings. These meetings have been very helpful and I have received much peer support through them. I am staying in a stable condition and continue to have excellent marital status and family and friend involvement in my life. I feel that I have a good understanding of my mental health issues. It is not easy to deal with this condition, but I feel that it can be controlled. I thank AuSable Valley Mental Health for all the assistance over the years.”
“Betty” grew up in a sheltered home with 2 sisters, because of her disability she was protected and attended special education in school. She had worked in sheltered settings during school. When she relocated here to our county, it was discussed that she could live on her own with support. Arrangements were made for her to visit an apartment and work with CLS staff. She is living in her own place, cooking her own meals, doing her own shopping and cleaning. She acquired a job in the community and works without support now, using public transportation to get to work and attends a local church with help from church peers. “Betty” is a member of our local RICC group and has learned how to tell the legislators what is important to her. A few years ago she took on the responsibility of paying her own bills and balancing her account with some assistance.
“Sally” was married with two children. As a result of her untreated mental health issues she got divorced and lost custody of her two young daughters. She hit rock bottom, became psychotic and threatened suicide. She was hospitalized several times; during her last hospitalization, the treating doctor felt she needed a 24/7 placement for her own safety, so she was sent to a secured 24/7 facility. With the support and assistance of case management she was able to move to a less restrictive placement back to her home and work to develop the skills she needed to regain her independence. She lived in a consumer owned home (COH) for approximately two years working on her level of confidence, self-esteem and building her relationship with her daughters. Today she lives independently in her own apartment, manages her own day-to-day needs without any assistance and has regular contact with her daughters, including her new grandbaby.
“John” was a young man when he entered the service; he was active and had goals for his future. He experienced his first mental health episode while in the military and received an honorable discharge. “John” entered into mental health services for a brief period of time, but then chose to self-medicate with alcohol. His extended use of alcohol led to the failure of three marriages and a damaged relationship with his two children. With supports and services from AVCMHA, he was able to learn about his illness and began to treat the symptoms with medication vs alcohol. He experienced a few setbacks but always pulled through. Today he has years of sobriety, runs his own AA meetings, married and was able to reconnect and build a relationship with one of his children.
“Bob” has schizophrenia, reports voices on a regular basis but was motivated to have a life he could call his own. With the assistance and support of Supportive Employment he was employed at Burger King for more than 5 years until he felt it was time for him to retire.
There are so many more examples of success stories. We look forward to sharing more about these in the future.