Barbara had what she considers a normal childhood. She had two loving and supportive parents who enjoyed helping those in need, and inspired their children to do the same. She never got into any trouble. She enjoyed playing with her dolls, and dreamt of getting married and having a family of her own one day. But when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the tender age of 12, her entire life changed.
“Why did this happen? I thought I was a pretty nice girl. But it can happen to nice people too. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person because it happened,” she said.
As Barbara got older, she continued to have negative thoughts and hear voices that told her she was not pretty, that her friends and family were bad people, and other negative thoughts that fought to tear her down. But it was Friendship Clubhouse that helped her build herself up again.
“The program has helped me deal with the illness big time, the voices, and the symptoms. It helped me to come here and socialize with good people, have fun, to learn, so this is an outlet for me. Like a home away from home,” she said.
Friendship Clubhouse is a rehabilitation program for adults who suffer with mental illness, including those who may have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. The Clubhouse serves as a safe and supportive environment that focuses on wellness and recovery, socialization, and independent living skills enhancement. Participation is free.
“I need some place to go. I couldn’t stay home; I’d probably wind up in an institution if I didn’t have a place to go,” Barbara said.
Barbara has attended Friendship Clubhouse for the last 25 years. She says recovery and wellness, communication, and self-esteem classes have helped her become more social than she’s ever been. She feels comfortable going to the mall, attending barbeques with her brother, and many other activities her mental illness has made difficult for her in the past.
“I was always determined to get better. I’ve always been determined,” Barbara said.
While Barbara may not be living the life she always imagined, she is happy about how far she has come. She draws her strength from her faith, and leading classes at Friendship Clubhouse allows her to help people recover, like the Clubhouse helped her recover. Attending Friendship Clubhouse has taught her to appreciate her journey, even the parts she did not plan for.
“I didn’t accomplish some of the things I really wanted to accomplish; God has something better for me. Now that I’m older and I’m wiser, I look at it like that.”