From GCB client to full-time employee working as part of the care team, Linda has known despair. That’s why she’s an ambassador of hope now.
When Linda talks to people about GCB, she uses the analogy of touring Mammoth Cave. “You stand there with the guide, and they extinguish their light. Suddenly, you’re standing in total, absolute darkness. That was my life before GCB,” she says. “But then the guide strikes a single match, and light fills the space again. That’s what GCB is like—a single match in the dark.”
Linda put on a brave face for much of her 20s and 30s, keeping herself busy with work and family so that she wouldn’t have to deal with the increasing despair and the up-and-down moods that she couldn’t control. It wasn’t until she was in her 40s that things began to fall apart in earnest.
Around the time Linda’s first marriage ended, she fell into a deep despair. “I didn’t feel like I was a very good mother. I wanted to sleep all the time, because when I was asleep, I didn’t have to think about anything,” she says. She had unresolved abuse issues from childhood and was exhausted from the demands of taking care of everyone and working in a doctor’s office. Bouts of anxiety crippled her, and she found herself sneaking anti-anxiety pills at the doctor’s office.
“That's what GCB is like–a single match in the dark.”
Ultimately, it caught up with her. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, along with ADHD and depression. “I was thankful for the diagnosis,” Linda says. “For most of my life, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.”
She found her way to GCB at a particularly low point, after being charged with shoplifting (she was having a panic attack and inadvertently left a store with merchandise). She was glad for the help, and immediately connected with the people at GCB. Not only did she see a GCB psychiatrist to stabilize her medications, she also started attending groups. “I wanted to know what triggered the anxiety and depression and the manic episodes. I wanted to learn as much as possible and I would go to as many as five groups a week,” she says.
No longer working at the doctor’s office, Linda longed for an opportunity where she could help people. She had been going to the Wellness Center at GCB for many months. She lost 80 pounds by improving her eating habits and getting control of her diabetes, and was eventually offered a job there—first part time, and then, in 2014, full-time. She’s now part of the holistic health team, having earned certification from the State of Ohio as a Peer Support Specialist, and works as a group facilitator. “A lot of what I try to do is educate people about mental illness, even educating the mentally ill person him or herself,” Linda says. “I just want to show people that there is light.”
Linda has now been involved with GCB for more than 10 years—some of that time as a client and some of that time as an employee. In that time, she’s transformed herself—all through her own hard work. Still, she’ll never stop feeling grateful for the day she wound up at GCB. “I was really going down fast when I found GCB,” she says. “It saved my life.”