My name is Keith.
I’ve been going to MHALA for a long time. Never stopping to accept and appreciate the services they provided. My goal was to get my clothes washed, a shower, and a lunch.
There was a time when I was doing ok. Then I stopped taking my medication and began the journey on self-medicating and not addressing my mental illness.
One day I was in the basement (MHALA’s Drop-in Center in Long Beach) and ran into the psychologist and she began to tell me about my illness and my disorder. She advised me to start taking my medication but I so much enjoyed the freedom that I felt by self-medicating.
This went on for a while and my illness as well as my addiction continued to progress. I believe it was a life-or-death situation that I was facing. You cannot mix medication with street drugs at the same time. I tried sleeping on the street and giving up. I had lost everything. My friends and family had pretty much given up as well.
I began to listen to the psychologist and was sent to Team North (in MHALA’s Integrated Service Center in Long Beach). There are many teams to go to, but this was different. I felt compassion and a need to get real with myself. I needed help. Somewhere in my sick thinking, I believed that I was owed something. I was assigned a PSC (Personal Service Coordinator), a new psychiatrist, a therapist, and the entire team of support.
The staff on this team are amazing. They could see right through my drama and knew without doubt that I was actually crying out for help.
Eventually, I became humble enough to hear my PSC Jennifer. We began to work on my goals and plans for my life. She didn’t tell me what I needed. She asked me what I needed and how much I was willing to do for what I needed. It’s been a long time since I’ve made wise decisions and you better believe she supported me every step of the way. I was staying in an SRO (single-room occupancy). We would meet almost every week, in person or over the phone, and each time she would ask what are my needs and concerns.
Well the first one was to get off drugs and take my medication as prescribed. She supported me with constant encouragement. I checked myself into Redgate and made it through detox. I completed the program and she continued to ask, what’s next.
Fast forward — she taught me to participate in my own recovery. She was not going to do for me what I can do for myself. She taught me that I don’t ever have to live like that again. She has taught me about my illness, how to wash my clothes, pay rent, grocery shop, cook healthy meals, socialize, and accept my mental illness for what it is. I am now a changed man.
I’m now clean and sober, gained brand-new relationships with brand-new friends. I am now connected to my family and speaking to my kids. I attend 12-step meetings online, take my medication as prescribed, and right now! I am waiting on the keys to my very own apartment. They are even going to allow me to have a dog.
My life is new. My life is real and I am truly thankful to MHALA.
My name is Keith.
A member of MHALA.