Hi, my name is Carol M and I am a member of Our House Clubhouse in Walled Lake Michigan. I have been a member since May of 2012. I found myself at the clubhouse after a suicide attempt in 2011. When I was released from the hospital, my after care was though CNS. Then I was referred by my case manager to attend the clubhouse. It took her about a year to get me out of my room to go to the clubhouse. On my first day of orientation, I thought that this place wasn't for me. I thought I'm not crazy I don't have a mental illness. But it’s not about mental illness but, breaking though your barriers and helping others who have the same struggle's in life. The clubhouse gives me a structured day. The staff helps me with reaching my life's goals. They give a lot of support and all the encouragement I need. I also enjoy helping and socializing with other members. We all support each other and encourage each other.
My name is Sheila Massey and I am going to talk about my recovery. I am a Gateway Consumer Advisory Board Member. I attend A Place of Our Own Clubhouse/Goodwill and I am also a client of North Central Community Mental Health.
Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s I had a really bad habit of popping pills and I tried to end my life. By the grace of God I survived and recovered from taking all of those pills. At that time I was very depressed, distraught and unable to face reality. I will never go down that path again.
I learned a great deal from attending North Central Community Mental Health. First of all they taught me that I am someone. Next I worked toward finishing my education by going to adult education classes and successfully graduating. I was also on the North Central CMH Volleyball team in which I won a trophy for my participation.
At the present time I am attending A Place of Our Own Clubhouse five days a week. I always come in around 8:00am and make the coffee and open the snack shop and sometimes I work in the clubhouse kitchen preparing lunch for our membership.
I am searching for employment in the community with the assistance of the clubhouse Vocational Coordinator Sharon. I am looking for a job working in a restaurant setting doing dishes. I really like to work with people as well as working as part of a team. In the past I have had a great deal of training and different job experiences in my lifetime such as working with pre-school aged children and as a utility worker and I am just excited about putting that training to good use in my future employment positions.
I have transitional housing and I would like to thank all of the staff who have worked so very hard to help me obtain and maintain my independent housing, Kara, Val, Monica and Rosalind all of which work for Goodwill. I am doing well and have lived independently for over a year now.
My total recovery means that I take my medicine on time and if I don’t its possible I could relapse so I am very careful to take my medication as prescribed and to work closely with my doctors to remain on my medications.
I have several plans for my future and they include but are not limited to getting a part time job, maybe getting remarried, owning or renting a house and volunteering my time to work with the elderly. I believe with the help of God and the support of my family, friends and clubhouse I will be able to make it and recover from my illness. I really must thank my clubhouse as they have helped me get employment and housing and have always supported me. They encouraged me to go from a group home to independent living and work towards my overall recovery.
I had a rough childhood. I dropped out of school. I got married at the age 17 and got pregnant right away. I had a beautiful baby girl. Life was good, then I got pregnant again 4 months after my first child. I had a set of twin girls who came 3 months early. One lived and the other died after 10 hours. I was wondering why God took her. Maybe she would be crippled or mentally retarded. So I accepted it was God’s will for my life. Then 6 months later, I got pregnant again. I had another beautiful girl. So by the age of 20, I had 4 children.
I had a beautiful life with my husband and 3 children. We bought a house. My husband was the one who went to work and he was a good provider. I was a stay at home wife and mother. In 1970, I decided to get my GED from school.
One day after coming home from church, my husband wanted to go to the hospital. He wasn’t feeling well, and that was the beginning of hard times for us. He had something wrong with his legs. So he lost his job because he could not lift up a quarter side of beef; he was a butcher. He couldn’t find a job, so we lost the house. We moved to Ohio and we went on welfare. I was still a housewife and mother, I didn’t work. In 1977, we moved back to Michigan. My husband tried to go back to work in another job, if he could get one.
In 1979, while I was walking to the drug store to get my husband’s medicine, I got hit by a car. The driver did not stop. I got up and was lucky I had no broken bones. I walked home. I called my husband and told him what happened. He came home and he did not want to take me to the doctor. I then found out that my husband had a girlfriend. I suspected it for 15 years. He did not love me. I was crushed. I cried all the time. I could not live that way so I divorced him. He convinced our children to go to the Friend of the Court so that they could live with him. I was crushed even more deeply.
So my husband took the children, and I was on the street with no job and no place to live. I got depressed and paranoid not knowing what was going to happen to me. Where was my next meal coming from? Where was I was going to sleep? I went to a shelter and they gave me a place to sleep and gave me 3 meals a day for a week. They said I would have to look for a job and a place to live. After a week, the welfare office paid for it. There was general assistance to pay my rent.
I found a place in Taylor so I moved there. I started looking for work. I found a job at a restaurant. Then my symptoms came back, and I got fired from my job. So I called my mother, and she said I could come home. I needed love and rest. My mother was not sympathetic to me. She called the police and they took me to Clinton Valley Medical Hospital in Pontiac. They said I had paranoid schizophrenia and that I could not take care of myself. They put me on medication and said I could not live alone. So my mother and father said I could live with them.
In 1991, my father died, and my mother moved from Saint Clair Shores to Trenton. Then she decided to remarry, and I ended in a group home. While at the group home, I started to go to Gathering Place Clubhouse. The Clubhouse gave me the support and confidence I needed to live independently. The Clubhouse gave me a chance to work at a job which gave me the money to buy things for my apartment that I wanted to live in all by myself. The Clubhouse helped to change my medication. My doctor said I became Bi-Polar. Now I live in a senior citizen building, and I like it.
My hope is to spend more time with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and maybe meet a man who will love me for me.
- Submitted by Stella from Gathering Place Clubhouse
Hi, my name is Thomas G Hoffert. Before I had a mental illness, I was always starting trouble… Like getting suspended from school, being expelled, hitting teachers, not listening to what I was told, and always getting into fights.
Who helped me and how? I was referred to Macomb Mental Health. My therapist, Jim, diagnosed me with ADD, Bipolar and Schizophrenia. Harmony Hall Clubhouse has played a role in my recovery. They keep me busy and out of trouble.
What am I doing now? I am going to Harmony Hall and I meet new people and have new friends. My plans and dreams for the future are to work as a volunteer in a senior home and one day open my own “Volunteer Saves.”
I’m Paul DeYoung. I was born in Kalamazoo, MI in 1967. I was raised in a middle class family, my mom a KPS school teacher, and my dad a committee man at Fisher Body. I had a somewhat normal upraising as a child. I played in many sports, Little League baseball, AYSO soccer and was in the school band. I remember discovering alcohol at a young age. I was about six years old when my dad gave me a taste of scotch whiskey and I didn’t like it. I remember I was on Ritalin as a kid, as I was hyperactive as a child. I was picked on a lot as a kid also. I remember being asked if I was retarded as a child by other kids.
When I was in Jr. High school I started to have problems with my behavior and getting along with others. I remember when another student in class was picking on me and I stood up and disrupted the class, yelling at the student. I ended up getting a referral to the principal’s office. I made it through Jr. High in two years with others picking on me and then I was in High School. When I began high school, in the mid 1980’s is when I started to discover cigarettes and marijuana. I remember my Freshman year at high school. I was at a bon fire and playing in the band. After the bonfire I went across the street to the park and someone had a joint. I tried it and I started to feel real weird. I started to walk home from the park, living about one mile away at the time. I would zone out every few minutes and would get scared. I ended up about half way home at a friend’s house and his parents let me in and I told them I had tried some marijuana and that I was feeling weird. They called my parents and they came and picked me up. I remember watching TV and every five minutes or so I would check the time, as I was feeling weird and not right at the time. You would think that I would never experiment with marijuana again after that, but that ended up just being the beginning of what turned out to be a life of insanity and addiction.
I discovered beer and wine coolers at the age of 17. I would get 2-liters of Sun Country wine coolers and drink them or Boone’s Farm cheap wine. I would also discover my parents wine and would mix it with Kool-Aid. There was a day one fall when I came home from school, while in high school, and my parents weren’t home yet, that I got into some tequila that my mom had purchased when she and I went to Mexico that summer. I drank about half of it and I had fell asleep or passed out at about 3:00 in the afternoon. My mom arrived home and noticed I was asleep in the early afternoon and I was supposed to go over to my dad’s for the weekend, as my parents were divorced at the time, and I was visiting my dad that weekend. My mom found out the next day and I got in trouble.
I continued to experiment with alcohol and marijuana as I progressed into my 20’s. I couldn’t wait until I turned 21 and I went out and bought beer as soon as I turned 21, at midnight the night before. I remember that I was so drunk on my 21st birthday that my friend had to put me to bed. I look back at that day now and I hated that feeling I had. The room was spinning and I got sick. The insanity continued after that day, as I continued to use into my 30’s. I would use before work and after work. I had a job as a pizza delivery driver and I could get away with being high at work as long as I could perform my job. There were even other co-workers that would use and get high at work. We would even have drinks and smoke marijuana as we closed the store, after all our deliveries were done. I would make sure I would make it to the store before 2:00am, even if I had to stop while on a delivery, to get beer for myself to consume after work.
I went through many pizza jobs in my life, having a difficulty keeping most of them. I would continue to use at all my jobs. I even had a few jobs where we would use during the evening, while at work. I remember one job where the owner had all the guys take a break and go to the bar for a drink and then when the guys came back to the store, all the women went to the bar and had a drink and then we would finish our shifts.
I was working a pizza job one day in the city of Portage and I didn’t feel well and I ended up going home early one night. On my way home, I slowed down on the bridge over I-94, on Oakland Drive and got out of my car. I climbed up on the bridge and attempted to jump off. I couldn’t do it though. I would climb up on the bridge and then I would climb back down and then climb back up again. The police eventually saw me and took me to the hospital where I was evaluated and released. That wasn’t the first or only time I attempted suicide. There were a few times over a period of 20 years that I either attempted or considered suicide. There was one day about 10 years ago I tried to break into a gun shop on the west side of town.
I banged on the door and walked around the whole building looking for a way to break in to get a gun to kill myself. I ended up crying in front of a big sign in front that says Guns. I felt terrible and wanted to end it all. My family found out and I eventually admitted myself to Borgess 1NW, a psych unit for a few days. While I was there I was able to straighten out my meds, as I had fallen off of them and was all messed up. I also met some nice people with problems similar to mine and I made new friends. I stayed there for about five days until I felt better.
I would do almost anything or go to any lengths to get my next use. I sold my plasma at the blood bank one summer day many years ago to get money for some drugs. As I was on my way over to score I felt real sluggish and tired. I couldn’t stand up. I was riding the bus at the time, as I was so poor I could barely make ends meet. I was in between jobs at the time and was having a hard time finding another pizza job then. I remember calling 911 for help from a pay phone and the ambulance came and took me to the hospital. When I got to the hospital I found out that I had dehydrated from selling my plasma. It cost $500 for the ambulance, a cost that I couldn’t afford at the time. You would think that I would have learned by now that drugs were not for me but I ended up going to get the drugs after that incident.
I eventually discovered Pathways in 2003, although I was still using at the time. Pathways, a psychosocial clubhouse for those suffering from a mental illness, began to help me in my life.
I began being able to go to inexpensive activities and meeting new friends along with many other new and exciting activities. I love it here at Pathways. I have been at Pathways for almost seven years today. I have learned a lot at Pathways. I was at Pathways for almost a year when they told me I would have to get help and quit using drugs and alcohol. I was still using up to May of 2004. I would still go to just about any lengths to score my drugs. I would use whenever I wasn’t at the Clubhouse. Pathways introduced me to Narcotics Anonymous in 2004. I went to my first meeting feeling hopeless. I listened to others in recovery share. I came back to another meeting. I was doing well for about a week and then I used a check I should have used to pay a phone bill to get a bag of marijuana. I used for a week feeling hopeless, not knowing how I was going to end this nightmare of continuous using.
I came back to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and they welcomed me with open arms. I have been drug and alcohol free since May 17, 2004. It wasn’t easy at first, but I kept coming back to meetings and I got a basic text book and a sponsor. I began to work the steps and kept going to meetings. I would go to about five meetings a week. I continued to go to Pathways while going to NA. I got more involved with Pathways and NA. I went to my first convention downtown in 2004 and had an awesome experience sharing six months clean time with over 500 other recovering addicts at the convention. I began going to DRA (Dual Recovery Anonymous) meetings at Pathways. DRA began to help me even more with my issues as it allowed me to address my mental illness as well as my addiction. I have seen a lot in my six years of recovery.
I have seen people come and go. I have seen many people die from the horrors of addiction. I am grateful for my recovery. I still am struggling with my addiction and mental illness today. I may have lost the desire to use drugs and alcohol, but the disease is still with me ready to strike when I least expect it. The disease has manifested itself in other ways. I am struggling with my weight and eating issues. I can’t eat just one cookie or one donut. I have to have the whole sleeve or more. One is too many and a thousand is never enough. I used to isolate a lot early in my recovery but I have come a long way since then, although I still have some problems to this day.
I was able to have a healthy, consensual relationship with a woman friend 2 years ago. I have run meetings many times and been there to help a new comer to the program. I have run the DRA program at Pathways many times when there was no one to run it. The program was there to help me when my girlfriend decided she no longer wanted to be in an intimate relationship with me earlier this year. She told me it was over and she didn’t even want to talk to me anymore and I felt real bad. I entertained the thought of using whiskey and marijuana to ease the pain. I immediately called a few recovering addicts and told them how I was feeling and what I was thinking. I also went to a few meetings as soon as I could. I was able to get through my problems with their help. I am so grateful for my recovery and the programs that have helped me.
I take my recovery one day at a time. I currently have just over 2,125 days clean. I am looking forward to another year of recovery one day at a time.
I hope to be able to do new and more exciting things in the year to come. I am looking forward to the convention, my 5th one, later this year. I am going to work on my weight issues and getting into better shape with the help of the program and my doctor. Right now I have trouble walking a half block. I am going to work on that in the upcoming year. I will continue to go to NA, DRA and Pathways and improve my life. I will always remain grateful for my recovery as long as I take it one day at a time.
- Submitted by Paul D. from Pathways Clubhouse