Minggu, 29 September 2013


Today the quiet woman moved into her new apartment. And she smiled, and laughed, and told me that she was starting her life anew. She ran into an old friend at her new apartment complex, and neighbors greeted her with friendly hellos. She has a home. And she is happy.

Her new home is in an apartment building for people over age 55. In addition to having a home, she is joining a community. She is looking forward to the Spaghetti Dinner on Friday -- just $1.00. A fellow resident is donating all the food, and proceeds will be donated to support social events.

She signed the lease for the new place a couple of weeks ago--that day, we spent hours waiting by the phone to hear if it had passed inspection. She couldn't sign the lease until it did.

What do you do when you have a new home, but nothing to put in it? Last week, we went bed shopping. She bought a bed, and was there when it was delivered last week.

We had planned for her to move in on Monday. But on Monday, when I went to meet her at the shelter, she said she wasn't ready. The shelter staff had told her to provide a wish list of items for her move in. She did, but they said no to her wish list (3 pieces of furniture from Crate and Barrel -- a desk, a chair, and a bookshelf.) So she remade her list, but hadn't heard what they might provide for her. Instead of moving in, we strategized and made lists, and sought clarification -- what could/would the shelter provide?

Today, when I arrived at the shelter, she told me that staff had told her she would be moving out today. We asked about household items for her, and were told she could have a set of pots and pans. We loaded her stuff in my car, multiple garbage bags with clothes, books, and personal items, and unloaded them at her new apartment. Then we when shopping. Sheets, pillows, mattress pad, shower curtain, cleaning supplies, glasses. She knew exactly what she wanted, and where she wanted to shop. She spent $76.

I asked about food -- did she want to stock her kitchen? She said "Not yet." First priority -- cleaning and settling in. I helped her make her bed. Then I asked what she would have for dinner tonight. She thought McDonalds would be good. I took her there for a cheeseburger, small fries, fruit smoothie and an apple pie. Her celebratory dinner in her new home. She looks forward to cooking when she's ready -- but she's not quite ready for that.

I thought today of the things that help someone recover from mental illness: a home, a community, friends, choice and autonomy. These things are not in pill bottles, nor in therapy sessions. I wish I had a picture to show you -- the sadness and despair I saw when I first met this client, and the elation and hope today.

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