Bruce is a quiet, caring, easy going man. He holds a steady job at Wal-Mart, has his own car and shares an apartment with a room mate. He enjoys spending time with his friends and likes to be happy. At first glance, Bruce seems like everyone else. What you don’t know is that Bruce has been living with schizophrenia for much of his life. Schizophrenia, a chronic, severe and extremely disabling brain disease, causes distorted perceptions of reality, hallucinations, delusions and inappropriate emotional expressions. What started out as restless behavior, flurries of energy and temper tantrums in high school, was soon diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia and Bruce was stabilized on medication which helped reduce and control the symptoms of his illness. For the next thirty years, he lived with this parents who helped him make ends meet and made sure he remained on his medications.
Once Bruce moved out on his own in his mid 40’s, he quickly realized that with his minimum wage, part time job he couldn’t afford his rent, his car payment, food and the $275 monthly prescription for his antipsychotic medications. When Bruce runs out of medicine he experiences heavy mood swings, memory problems, becomes nervous, fidgety, detached from reality, confused and more importantly, is not able to function at work. He lost his job, was forced to live in his car and ended up in a homeless shelter. He was then admitted to David Lawrence Center’s crisis stabilization unit and connected to our homeless outreach program.
Today for the first time in Bruce’s life, he is living independently with the help of David Lawrence Center’s community based services where he receives regular monitoring, job training and placement services, resource coordination and training on daily living skills such a budgeting, cleanliness and medication management. He now lives in one of David Lawrence Center’s affordable housing units. Once connected to DLC’s programs, the Center walked Bruce through the process of getting social security disability and helped him get approved for Medicare and a prescription assistance program. Now, if Bruce has an issue with work, DLC helps facilitate conversations with his manager. If he has a problem financially, the Center helps him make ends meet. Collectively, these supportive services along with his medications have successfully navigated Bruce through the path of learning to live with the mental turmoil schizophrenia can have on his life bringing him the independence, peace, normalcy and happiness he has always wanted. He says, “Helping me get back to work has been the most beneficial thing David Lawrence Centers has done for me. It is very comforting to know that if I get sad, forget to take my medicine or need help with something, they are there to get me through it.”