Finding Myself Again - Kenny's Story
Kenny was a teenager when he instinctively knew that something was not right with him emotionally. He had no idea what the problem was, but by the time he turned 23 he was having psychiatric symptoms that left him confused and disoriented. Already married and raising children, Kenny was getting more and more anxious and less able to deal with some of the day-to-day challenges he was facing.
Kenny sought help from the community mental health system. He initially was diagnosed with depression. For the next 10 years, his medications were regularly adjusted and additional mental health conditions were added to his diagnoses.
"It took more than 10 years from my first diagnosis to adjust my medications," says Kenny. "I worked throughout that time and struggled a lot," he adds.
Things were still not going well in Kenny's life and his anxiety heightened.
"At one point, I spent some time in jail. My situation took me to a place where I couldn't function. I went into an even deeper depression and eventually admitted myself into the hospital for several weeks."
Eventually, with the help of his medications and caregivers, Kenny's symptoms improved and he began to rebuild his life. He started working at a less stressful job and decided to add more self-care to his life. He also began living on his own and learned to value having less drama in his life. Kenny joined the Thomas M. Wernert Center where he attended several group classes on wellness.
"The classes shed a lot of light on my illness and helped me understand what was happening to me. As I participated in discussions, I met other people and realized I wasn't alone," says Kenny.
He enjoyed learning coping skills, going on field trips, and how everyone made him feel welcome. Just when he was settling in, the pandemic hit, worsening his anxiety. He was surprised and grateful for the ongoing efforts by the staff of TMWC to stay engaged with members.
The staff called and checked on me regularly and I really appreciated their support' he says
In addition, Kenny has participated in several virtual programs, including online art sessions. TMWC delivers art supplies to members and they attend instruction online.
Art really helps channel my feelings and takes my mind off of what gives me stress.
Kenny also credits his faith and TMWC with helping him get to a much better place when dealing with his illness. His advice to others considering joining TMWC is to take advantage of what they have to offer.
Do it for yourself,' he advises. 'Not for anybody else.