I’ve spent most of my adult life in the grip of mania, hopping (among other behaviors) from city to city, job to job, school to school, and relationship to relationship, never settling anywhere, on anything, with anyone, for very long. Between 1984 and 2015, for example, I attended ten universities; worked for thirteen employers; and had twenty-five addresses in six states. That’s an unusual amount of movement by any standard.

Predictably, I’ve also lost a lot of time over the years to depression. Since 1989, for example, I’ve had three major episodes, each claiming anywhere from one to two years of my life. As all depressives know, the disease does more than sap your energy, blunt your thinking, and sentence you to dark moods; it also robs you of your will to live, making it particularly tough to fight. It’s a truly awful illness.

Fortunately, I’m now challenging both disorders, and winning. At Winds of Change, I’m learning the answers to key recovery questions such as “What kind of help do I need?” and “Where do I go to get it?” And at La Casa, I’m getting the restful sleep and simple diet I need to get healthy and stay healthy. Putting the two together makes my recovery sustainable, which in turn makes it worth any time or effort.

Keep fighting for your recovery!

Bob, Consumer

I first came to Winds of Change immediately after I had a relapse that required hospitalization. I was homeless at the time so they set me up to live in the adult group home (J's Place). I immediately noticed that Winds of Change staff was excited about my treatment and interactive in the roles that they played as part of my recovery. After a few months at J's I applied for the Peer Support position. To my astonishment they called me and offered me the position! I have been working for WOC for over a year now and have been promoted to R&S and currently work out of the Recovery Mall. With the help of WOC I have been able to achieve goals I never thought possible and have been in recovery for almost 2 years!

Jedd Schapley, WOC R&S

My experience at WOC is working part-time as a janitor for one month through the KITE Program, plus getting to meet different people. I currently live at J's Place and enjoy getting out, coming to groups and working on my physical health.

Mark, Consumer

When I first began with Winds of Change I hadn't been receiving services for some time. I was still struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction, but my case manager wasn't so concerned about that as he was with my symptoms and my illness. Winds of Change gained my trust by working with me rather than belittling me for my addictions. This trust helped me to calm down enough to begin seeing the Doctor and getting back on medications. After my hospitalization I became involved with the KITE Program and worked as the janitor for the center. After some time I was invited to live at J's Place, the adult group home. This was great because I was still homeless at the time and this opportunity got me off the streets and into a stable living environment. While at J's Place I practiced my sober living skills, and eventually found the confidence to apply and interview for the Peer Support Specialist Position.

Today I have an apartment of my own. I receive SSI, and I enjoy my part-time job as Peer Support. I've been sober for over a year and am able to keep money in my account without spending everything I have. I am very grateful for what Winds of Change has helped me achieve. I wouldn't be doing so well without everyone's support.

Jamie, Consumer

I came to Montana with a blue heart and had no self-esteem. My life was a wreck and I had no way out. The Recovery Mall groups provided me with the keys to redevelop my hope and faith in me. I never thought that this could be possible, but they shared with me how to remove this problem that started when I was a child. What was taught by Jedd and RJ was how to understand mental illness, how it can be treated, and how to cope with small and large emotional destruction that we don't understand in our self. Coping with the community, our families and friends successfully helps in the process of our healing. This education took place in our IMR classes (which means Individual Management Recovery). With this experience I have come a long way and others I have seen have too. I really want to say thank you for the peer support of Winds of Change that is provided for their patients and the type of work supported that has been given.

Lanica, Winds of Change Consumer

I was very down on myself. I had a pretty hard time telling myself I was "okay". I did not reward myself for what I accomplished in the hospital. The more I thought the harder it got to thank myself. And then I went to Winds of Change. I started July 7th. I at least tried to pick up several books and tried to finish them. I did this to gain some kind of structure in my life. I went to all the meetings for Anger, Stress, then IMR and Pathways. It was a good thing for me to pass the time, and find new friends. I also attend A.A. for groups for my addiction of substances. I don't do street drugs and alcohol.

For now, I'm also trying to QUIT CIGARETTES! It's also the most of a bad addiction I have had for over 2 ½ years of sobriety. Today I am pretty well back with it. After the State Hospital, I progressed real well and thanks to Winds of Change I am happy now with everyone there to help I am well.

Mitch, Peer Support Specialist

I started noticing my symptoms in my mid 20's and realized that I might have a mental illness. I applied for SSI and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I was then re-diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. I have been hospitalized several times for auditory and visual hallucinations. I take medications on a regular basis to combat what I struggle with. I am currently living in a group home and have support from several sources. I didn't realize at first how deeply these hallucinations affected me; I felt everybody hated me and felt like the whole world was against me. Only through medications and counseling did I realize there was help, now I feel better about myself and others. I also have thirteen years sober and feel though my life is back on track.

I was in an abusive relationship with someone who has a mental illness. It didn't help my mental illness and things became worse. Friends were concerned and told me that I needed help. I ended the relationship and moved out. I got a hold of Winds of Change and received help. It was like starting uphill on a very steep mountain. I knew that I needed a lot of help. The case managers and staff were there for me and didn't let me fall. I had to want to make the changes in order to move forward. Now, I feel that I have finally reached the top. All this has been gradual but I am very grateful that I made it. I can now reach out and help others. I do peer support 2 times a week at Winds of Change and I feel good about sharing my experience with others to help them in the process of recovery!

When I was in Warm Springs this last time, I despaired of ever getting out and living a normal life again. This was the third time I had been there and there was one thing that kept me going: my goal of attending the college of my dreams, Digipen Institute of Technology, to design video games. I kept that on my mind and a woman named Rosie rescued me from the pits of despair into a group home in Missoula called J's Place.

I struggled to fit in there; I hated being in a group home, hated the groups and the rules and some of the clients. But it got better. I did some volunteer work, looked for real work (albeit unsuccessfully for a while), and generally got along all right. All my meals were provided, so I had oodles of free time as well. I used this, after realizing what an asset it could be, to contemplate my situation and although at first I ended up crying into my Macbook, feeling alone, friendless and stuck again, I stuck to my goal of Digipen. To this end, I first signed up (again) for college at University of Montana, and started working hard at achieving good grades. I also got interviewed last fall and got a job at the library as tech support. I achieved a 3.0 last semester, and, having had enough of group home life, went into my own apartment in the student housing.

Again I struggled with being alone, and again Winds of Change Rehab and Support staff brought me out of my shell and I became friends with many of them. This semester, I got a lot of "senioritis" in my classes here, wondering why the hell I was bothering, but also did buckle down and get my essays done so I could finally apply to Digipen, and I was accepted shortly thereafter. I want to thank Rosie Jennings for taking me in, house staff and form house staff Chris Moles and John Curtis for listening to me rant and vent, my case manager Heidi Kearns for keeping me on the straight and narrow, and last but certainly not least, former R&S Deanna King and James Michael. Without them, I probably never would have gotten into college again, let alone Digipen. Deanna got me into school at the University of Montana and James worked and dedicated his time to my essays for Digipen day after day.

Ian, Consumer