Heidi is an intelligent, friendly, energetic, proud 35 year old mother. She grew up in Honduras, before moving to the United States to attend college. She had a good job, a nice car and was doing well in school until her world fell apart. She experienced what she calls a “relapse” – a downward spiral that included several years of extreme confusion, fear, homelessness, loneliness, a two-month stay in a state mental hospital, several crisis unit admissions and improper medication management all driven by powerful voices in her head brought on by the symptoms of schizophrenia.
She admits to being diagnosed as a child, but nothing prepared her for what she experienced during her relapse. She began experiencing problems when she started to forget to take her medications or took more than what was prescribed. She became ruled by the voices in her head and wound up on the streets without the continuous, appropriate medical attention she needed to remain stable. For several years, Heidi had many ups and downs with brief bouts of recovery. She explains, “Having these psychotic episodes made it impossible to think clearly or reason. When I look back on it now, nothing makes sense. The voices took control of my life.” She adds, “Without having any friends and family locally, I felt lost and alone. Even my family doesn’t know how to handle me – especially when I am sick.”
After spending several days at a local homeless shelter, confused and refusing to eat, she was introduced to the David Lawrence Centers homeless outreach specialist who referred her to the Crisis Stabilization Unit where she spent more than a month being stabilized. After the Center’s psychiatrist began administering her medications monthly via an injection, Heidi’s symptoms vastly improved. DLC helped her regain her independence by getting on Social Security disability and into an apartment. She was referred to group therapy, outpatient counseling and supported employment services and introduced to a network of people who also were diagnosed with a severe persistent mental illness. For the first time she felt connected, had friends and a host of treatment services provided by familiar faces who were invested in her wellbeing and continued success and stability.
Heidi is proud to report that she is doing extremely well, is back in school and actively looking for a job. She says, “Everyone at David Lawrence Centers treated me with respect and warmth. They had faith in me. The Center gave me everything I needed to recover.” She adds, “I have a support system here and consider David Lawrence Centers to be my extended family. They paid attention to every detail and helped me address problems as they came up. I finally feel like a human being again. I feel like myself.”