Would you risk your stable life and take a chance on a new one?

As everyone in my life knows I have mixed feelings about Albany Care. A huge part of the time I love it. It totally saved my life! I have one of the best therapists I’ve ever had! I’ve found an amazing combination of meds for me. I met a best friend/ older sister for life! I’ve also connected with some other amazing people. My deaf friend, who will always be in my heart even if we never see each other again. And others here, have opened up my compassion and ability to be around others who have vastly different mental health issues to mine.

I’ve learned a lot about building relationships with different staff members as I’ve had so many and honed a solid understanding about what works for me.

In spite of the chaos some days, the amount of people and other things (see my post ten things I hate about Albany!) I love the place more than hate it. Even when I’m annoyed and feel like I just want to leave I still like the place as I know it’s brought such a sense of safety and stability to my life. Living in a place like this has been something that I knew deep down I needed by the end of college. At that time I had no hospitalizations, suicide attempts, no one took my SI seriously ETC

So finding this place was bound to happen which is why I grabbed hard on to the chance when it came.

I’m doing so well now. As I said, meds, therapy, good relationships everything.

We all daydream about wanting more for our lives. There are things in the Chicago Area and likely IL in particular that I just can’t do as there aren’t the oppurtunities. For example, I’m still shocked about how Chicago/ IL has so few hotlines. I’m a huge fan about that form of volunteering as my three internships were hotline based. Also there isn’t a lot of peer support that I can find in the area.

When I went to a young adult resource center towards the end of my time in MA (was a real sanity saver as I didn’t have to be at my parents house!) the peer specialist told me the first day she met me that I would make a good peer specialist! That’s always stuck with me.

There are just great groups back in MA that they don’t have here. The DBSA, depression bipolar support alliance is way better for example.

There’s also a chance I could find a stronger, friendlier deaf/ deafblind community and make those connections. In short I feel I could expand the things that are important to me in my life and the only way seems to be leaving the state. I’ve always loved MA as I grew up there. The culture around mental healthcare is different, expressive arts therapy is hugely emphasized for example.

I’ve obviously talked about all this a million times before. I think it was an idea that took root in 2015 and at the time I was afraid of it. Now it’s something always in the back of my head.

However, I could totally be wrong about all this. First of all I know Jess and I both would need a solid foundation of services to do well. With Medicaid and SSI only, we’d need: Case management, outpatient therapy, psychiatrist. Likely a place to go for day treatment to provide structure at first. Either group home, shared living or high support in our own place especially to start with. We’re asking for things not to work out without these things.

When I was in MA I was told that there was no way I could get department of mental health funding. Basically pays for the services other agencies provide as cited above. At the time I had no hospitalizations, no severe issues ETC just the feeling that I needed that level of care.

Now I’ve basically been under IL department of mental health for three years and had several hospitalizations. As has Jess. It could be wishful thinking but I would think this would somehow influence their thoughts on the need for such services. On the housing front at least, living with my family for any length of time beyond like a few months or less is out of the question. Suburbia, no understanding of mental illness, doesn’t think I have it doesn’t believe in meds. Like one counseling center in the whole town.

And both our histories, preferences and what works for us it’s clear we would need residential, or in home support as neither of us has done anything close to well otherwise.

Ma folks say that DMH often is such a lost cause as trying to get services is like almost imposible. And the majority of services, even in home supports, and outpatient are funded through that department.

I guess the core question for me to consider again and again is: Is it worth it/ practical/ a good choice to consciously leave my current life of inarguably stable mental health with everything I need to do well, in order to try and find something new that might expand my life. It also just as well might be the worst choice ever. I could not live with putting our stability on the line, things falling apart and no way out, back to the place we were in with the constant supports we have here.

Jess proposed a step down solution. We’ve been exploring gateway supportive living. Where they accept all disabilities, except mental illness! So all our mental health needs would have to be handled ourselves. However they do housekeeping meals, activities ETC and we get three times the amount of money per month than here. She said it would be a first step to see how well we do in a non mental health environment that still provides daily support. During this time assuming things go well we’d be saving money in order to visit MA or perhaps another state.

I totally agree with this plan. And it would be easy enough to get back to Albany or another SMHRF if needed. I really really wish all states had SMHRFS which is a huge advocacy project I’m going to add to the list of projects. These places, the private pay ones and our type, I don’t consider institutions. The staff really do care and do the best they can, admit when they make mistakes (most of the time) and are totally for and wanting people to move on if they’re ready or stay if they’re not. These places have such a bad reputation and stigma even amoung mental health users and professionals. I feel that this could be changed with a more peer driven approach in the residential community, which is already starting to happen. And plans to scale down and specialize from a nursing home model to mental health only are slowly under way.

The question I asked about taking this risk is a very sensitive one. Please respond with empathy and nonjudgment. People who truly know what I’m facing are those with mental illness and I’d also say additional disabilities. They’d be most connected on a deep level to realistic options knowing me.

I think it’s a question many face and have known friends who have moved states and what that’s like. Please keep in mind that this is ongoing dialogue with myself and others, ongoing research and something I go back and forth on. So I’ll absolutely send conflicting messages about wanting to leave sometimes, and other times wanting nothing more than to stay for ever and that’s normal I think.


2 thoughts on “Would you risk your stable life and take a chance on a new one?

  1. In general, Sammy, I’d have to say that taking a chance on something would be well worth it in the end. Yes, that journey would be difficult and scary to go through, but there would be a good chance that the benefits would outweigh the bad stuff.

    Look at it this way, you took a risk moving to IL to begin with. You didn’t have to -you could have settled for something less, or chose another place to live in besides Friedman Place (and eventually, Albany Care). You pushed for what you knew that you needed/wanted and stuck it out when things became difficult.

    Your first hospitalization brought changes for you. Again, you pushed to find a place where you could get the help that you needed. Yes, it took awhile to find Albany, a place that accepted you and your disabilities. Even after you found and moved into Albany, there were and are difficult situations that you have found yourself in. But look at you now, Sammy. You are a strong person, Sammy, even if it doesn’t seem like it at times.

    As for moving out, I understand how you feel. Moving on and into the next part of your life is and will be a difficult and scary process. However, I know that you can do it, and will do it if you decide to go forward with this step.

    Have you considered working with NAMI? If I’m not mistaken, they do have a peer support thing, or IL’s version of it. The one aspect of it that I’m thinking of is that you are able to go to other places -like hospitals- to share your story and stuff. They visit the psych hospital where I’ve been. Just something to consider, okay?

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