Feeling Safe Improves Recovery

Feeling safe is fundamental to a person's health and wellbeing. Andy finds feeling safe is part of why he participates at the Thomas M. Wernert Center (TMWC).

"For a long time my anger, anxiety, and depression made things like getting out of bed or staying connected with others extremely difficult," says Andy. Since becoming a member in 2018, the feeling of safety has provided Andy with opportunities for healing, finding community, and much more. By attending TMWC, Andy has been able to begin to enjoy socialization again.

"My favorite thing about TMWC is the ability to socialize with like-minded individuals," Andy says. "Members arrive to give or receive support, to work through the tough stuff, and to form community."

Specifically, Andy says he feels "safe to be my most authentic self" when attending the SafeZone support group. SafeZone is designed to create an inclusive, welcoming environment for LGBTQIA members and their allies. Peers who attend learn about the long history of oppression toward the LGBTQIA community, discuss their own experiences, participate in community activities, and show support for peers. "It is an inclusive, and respectful group, and participating in community events is the icing on the cake," he explains. Most recently Andy participated in Toledo PRIDE by helping to create TMWC's float and participating in the parade.

Since finding a supportive place to be himself, Andy has gotten more involved with other TMWC programs. He credits his involvement with the SafeZone group for encouraging him to branch out. "I feel supported here, which has given me the confidence to try new things," he explains. Andy has recently started creating projects in Expressive Arts, has found an outlet for relaxation while planting flowers or harvesting produce in TMWC's garden, and describes an increased feeling of self-respect from the appreciation he receives while volunteering in the kitchen and in other areas.

Andy hopes that anyone who is struggling with both their mental health and loneliness will look for available resources, and keep searching for a community that encourages them to grow.