For over 16 years, Joyce has been in recovery from years of alcohol and substance abuse, while also experiencing an anxiety disorder and panic attacks. On the heals of this success, however, Joyce has needed to turn all of her attention to living with, understanding, and managing seven illnesses, one of which is diabetes.
While attending a workshop two years ago attended by the members of the 100 Pine Street Wellness and Recovery Center in Lewiston, Joyce learned that her
illnesses were “chronic” conditions.
The prevalence of diabetes in persons who have a
serious mental health illness is 2.5 times that of the
general population. “Chronic health conditions for
persons who have a serious mental health illness are an expectation, not an exception”, states Dr. Elsie Freeman of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Director of The Systems Transformation Project promoting the integration of health into mental health systems.
A 63 year old mother of eight children, Joyce is thoughtful, soft spoken, has a quick smile, enjoys arts and crafts, but is concerned. Her mother has a serious form of diabetes, one difficult to control, and one of her daughters has diabetes. Joyce finds it difficult to lose weight, follow a healthy nutrition program, and to
exercise. Joyce is overwhelmed with all that she must understand and remember. “I have so much stuff”, referring to the one inch file Joyce has just on diabetes. “I need to dig out my books and look at them again.”
“I hope to get back on track. If I do not I will get worse, gain weight, and my health problems will get worse.” Joyce’s Nurse Practitioner at the B Street Health Center assists Joyce with monitoring her diabetes and is
making a referral to a diabetes educator for Joyce.
“It has been a blessing from the Wellness and Recovery Center and 140 Canal Street for all of the classes they have offered and the speakers and the activities.”
Thank you, Joyce, for sharing your story with us.
Hope for the Future
by Jason Saucier
During my participation in alcohol substance abuse treatment it became very apparent to me that my mental health was something to take seriously if my recovery was to be successful. I knew a few people involved with Common Ties Mental Health Services, so I asked them what they thought about the agency. I liked what I heard so I chose to apply as part of my aftercare plan.
After a comfortable intake and screening process, I was accepted to the Breaking Free program. Familiar with treatment plan based counseling, I went to my Case Manager with many goals in mind. After six months I’ve accomplished most of them.
I’m learning to use the resources I have for managing my symptoms and for my overall health and well being. For my mental health I work with case management, counseling, and medication management. For my physical health I follow a diet, exercise, and sleep routine. For my spiritual health I work with other suffering people.
I’m rebuilding my past and present family, personal, and work relationships. I’m also learning to build new healthy relationships. I’ve made some real and lasting friendships.
My mother has her son back. My son has his father back.
I am currently looking to further my education. My Case Manager�s direct experience has been critical to my acceptance to college. The staff at Common Ties Mental Health Services has helped me through the entire application and enrollment process.At one time these seemed impossible to me. It has been a definite learning experience accomplishing them. I did it with the help and guidance of case management and the staff at Breaking Free.
Today, I have hope for the future.
Finding My Voice
by Shannon Lamontagne
Strength, determination and caring are words that best describe Dorothy. She describes her life as tough, she also describes herself as a survivor.
I am someone who continues to strive to better her life every day.
Dot was referred to Common Ties Mental Health Services for Community Integration Services and has been working with a case manager.
Dot is currently able to use her voice to stand up for herself and assert herself in a positive way. She has worked successfully over the last year with Vocational Rehabilitation Services and is currently employed.
She continues to struggle with symptoms of depression that are debilitating to her at times. The difference for Dot these days is that she can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Today, she has hope for herself, hope for the future that her life will continue to improve.
Dot is getting stronger. She has found her voice and is able to focus on being happy and healthy.
The Extraordinary Lives We Serve
by Wanda Griffin
Michelle came from a large Boston area family that was “well off”. In spite of the fact that there had been multiple suicides in her family and that her sister had been institutionalized for years as the result of several suicide attempts. P psychiatric problems were not to be talked about in Michelle’s home.
Michelle also has had chronic pain for years, resulting from osteomyelitis, lupus and other chronic physical ailments and has also been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Michelle had worked as a production specialist for the Honeywell Corporation and made a good income. It all came apart from the vicious cycle of pain, depression, substance abuse and psychotic symptoms.
Michelle came to Maine to live with a friend. After a short stay, the friend could no longer house her and dropped her off at a local shelter.
Michelle heard about Common Ties at the local emergency shelter.
Not only did I get my own apartment immediately, I am receiving intensive case management and medications and I go to the Wellness and Recovery Center.
All of this happened within the first month of my referral to Common Ties Mental Health.
… I am now clean and sober; I have a home and a place to go where I can meet new friends who have had similar difficulties.”