How Michelle found a path forward with the help of Community Alliance
Meet Michelle, an individual who was ready to take the next step in managing her major depressive disorder this year with the support of her family and Community Alliance. We are inspired by her commitment to recovery, her resilience when faced with setbacks and her willingness to share her journey with others. Thank you, Michelle, for helping break down the stigma around seeking treatment.
How did you first learn about Community Alliance?
I learned about Community Alliance through my therapist at Omaha Insomnia. I had been seeing her for around a year, and I was really struggling with isolation and had no direction for what to do with my life.
I was finally approved for disability benefits after trying for many years, and a part of me thought that would magically help. While it did help me greatly by finally having access to regular mental and physical care, I was struggling to move on to the next part of my life.
My therapist recommended Community Alliance several times before I finally chose to go. It terrified me. I had isolated myself for so long that even going to the grocery store was a challenge, and I had a lot of social anxiety. But I was getting to the point where something had to happen. It was scary to admit I needed more help and guidance, but I knew the way I was living was not sustainable.
What was your initial experience with Community Alliance like?
I was really nervous. My sister went with me for my intake in May. To be honest, it wasn’t easy, but I realized that this was the biggest gift and opportunity. I went into it saying, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this. I’m not wasting anybody’s time, not my time or these people’s time.”
Initially, the support I got here was to work on my social skills, and the classes were so amazing. I was able to reduce my weekly therapy to every two weeks or once a month because I’m doing so much here. That was huge for me. I learn something every single day I’m here.
When you think about the progress you have made since that initial experience, what comes to mind?
My confidence has drastically improved, and my anxiety is much better. I used to have two or three panic attacks a month, but I haven’t had one since starting at Community Alliance.
I was recently assigned a community support worker to provide more support in areas like budgeting and finances. My goal is to work again and have my own place. Being here makes me want to plan for my future, and I haven’t done that in years. There are things I will probably struggle with my entire life, but what I’ve learned makes it much less scary.
I can also advocate for myself more now. I have medication-resistant major depressive disorder and a lot of allergies, so it’s hard for me to be treated with medicine. So I advocated for myself and was accepted into a Spravato ketamine program, and that’s huge for me. I would not have done that had I not started at Community Alliance.
I got a taste of being part of a community again, and I want to do everything I can to keep this going.
Have you experienced any setbacks along the way?
Suffering from major depressive disorder, I go through hills and valleys. The first couple of months coming to Community Alliance were so new and awesome, but then I hit a brick wall. Typically, that would be the point where I would self-sabotage, but I was honest with my care coordinator and told her that if I didn’t show up without calling, she would know it’s a problem. The last thing I wanted to do was to come here, but it was the best thing I could do for myself. Ultimately, I was able to push through that depressive episode.
The last depressive episode I had was a lot easier to get through. I now have skills in place to handle it.
What does your relationship with Community Alliance look like today?
I don’t know what I would do without Community Alliance. Coming here has helped me find my passion and purpose in life: I want to help people. I want to take peer support specialist classes. It’s incredible to say that, at 53 years old, I think I found my passion. I want so much for myself, and they helped me realize I can do it. I’ve learned that I can contribute to society and our community, and that I am worthy of great things in my life.
One of my favorite things about Community Alliance is that it’s recovery based, whether it’s substance use or mental health, and the people here do an amazing job at catering to all the different parts of someone’s journey.
Is there a lesson, practice or strategy you learned through Community Alliance that has been particularly helpful to you?
There is no shame in seeking help for recovery, whether it’s substance use, mental health, whatever it is. It can feel very difficult to ask for and accept help as an adult. Saying no to getting help is way harder than saying yes. If you say no, you’ll never move forward.
It felt like support and all these amazing classes were handed to me on a silver platter. All anybody has to do is say yes.
What would you like others to know about Community Alliance?
No matter where you are in your journey, Community Alliance is the perfect place. The resources available here can help you at any point.
For example, if you don’t have a vehicle, they will do everything they can to make sure your transportation is figured out. If you don’t have a mental health team, they’ll connect you with those services here. If you don’t have health insurance, or you’re in a situation where you want to apply for disability benefits, they have experts in care coordination. There’s no setback that Community Alliance can’t help you with.
You do have to put some effort in, but they are here with you every step of the way. If you’re stuck, they will help you move forward.
What would you say to someone who is unsure about seeking help?
It will change your life in every beautiful way possible. There’s no shame in asking for or accepting help. You’re a stronger person for asking for help.
What do you think our community would look like if everyone had the personalized support they need to flourish?
If everyone had the support that they needed, I cannot imagine how much better our entire community would be. It takes a village to make this possible.
I never would have thought that I would be where I am right now. I put a lot of work into it, but it was Community Alliance that got me on this road. I’m forever grateful.