Hello! My name is Mary and I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature. I am also a 37-year-old woman living with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type.  I would like to tell you about my recovery through Journey Mental Health Center.

I grew up in Madison and Green Bay in healthy and stimulating environments. I had a  supportive mom, dad, and two sisters who expected the best out of me. Mom thought I could do anything.  She was a wonderful woman who didn’t think of me as disabled. Sadly, she passed away from breast cancer when I was in my 20s.

After Mom’s passing, I became depressed and symptomatic of my psychotic illness. My favorite job, a job I held for five years, was at Options in Community Living as a home care worker for people with disabilities. I began hearing voices telling me to quit the job I loved and decided to be hospitalized.

I was depressed for two years. I slept 12 to 14 hours a night, ate too much, and gained 70 lbs. I went in to therapy and with medication, became stabilized. I was a consumer at SOAR from 2010-2012. I also worked there as a peer support specialist from 2012-2014. I joined Journey Mental Health Center’s Yahara House in 2012. Since then, my mental health has been slowly progressing in a positive way. I go to Yahara House often for lunch. I also work there at least three hours a week.

Yahara House is a really de-stigmatizing place. The things I like about Yahara House:

  • I see people making friendships.
  • I see people with their struggles and I try to approach them in a loving way.
  • Staff members listen to me and they seem like they really care.
  • It’s a healthy and stimulating environment for me to grow.
  • I learn to cook in the café.
  • I learn to value and budget my money.

Yahara House is really a fun place! We celebrate cultural events and have recreation days where we play games.

Today, I run a support group at SOAR for people who hear voices. I am also an outreach worker at Journey and I am taking a class at East West Healing Arts Institute. I hope to join the Peace Corps in the next couple of years. I’ve learned I can do anything I want to do.

I haven’t been hospitalized in eight years, and I don’t plan on going back anytime soon. Living with mental illness just means I might need to work harder than someone without a mental illness. Everyone has problems, so everyone has to work hard to achieve their goals too!

Thank you to all my family and friends for their support.