Faces of Need — and Hope - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Faces of Need — and Hope

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Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 9:30 am

Alice has struggled with mental illness most of her life. In addition, she has fibromyalgia and nerve damage. After working for 18 years, she had to take medical leave and file for disability.

She struggled every day to cope with her mental and physical problems. She was no longer able to support herself and her children. Her physical and mental health plummeted fast.

She was not able to carry on a conversation or even to get out of bed. She became paralyzed by her disabilities, and the symptoms worsened.

In 2007, the pain of living was more than Alice could bear and she attempted to end her life.

Then, after three long years of existing one day to the next, a ray of hope came into Alice's life. Her psychiatrist asked her if she could work in a snack shop that Marc Community Resources Inc. was opening at her clinic. Alice said yes, that she would give it a try.

She worked with her case manager to prepare a resume and went for an interview. She was hired.

Alice says that this was the best thing that could have happened to her. She took on some responsibility and had a new purpose in life. But it wasn’t easy. There were days, she says, when her fear, pain and anxiety wanted her to fail.

She had to learn how to balance her mental problems with her physical problems to function successfully. Alice sought counseling to work on some of her issues because she wanted to do a good job and be a part of her own recovery.

As she slowly began taking back control of her life, Alice was offered the opportunity to work with and help others. And in doing so, she helped herself. She began to look forward to each new day. She wanted the snack shop to succeed and she wanted to be a part of that success.

Today, utilizing her peer support skills, Alice works as a vocational job coach at Marc Community Resources. She has developed a sense of confidence.

She still struggles with balancing mental and physical symptoms with her everyday responsibilities. But as hope and confidence have replaced pain and despair, Alice is determined to give back some of the support and encouragement that she received. She wants to be an example to others who might be lost in their own fears, whatever they may be.

“Today I enjoy my job and I enjoy my life," Alice says. "Not every day is easy and there is no magic cure, but I am so much stronger in my recovery.”

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