December Guest Writing: Viola’s Story

Word on the Street Issue 17, December 2021

I came to Interfaith Sanctuary in June 2021, after being homeless for four years, because I had to flee my apartment due to domestic violence. I joined Project Well-Being in August 2021, and that was the best decision I’ve made in years. I’ve struggled with my mental health since I was 11 years old, but I’ve been well-managed and stable for over 11 years. 

My stability went out the window in early November 2021 with hypermania and psychosis. It lasted a couple of weeks, until I saw a new med management doctor and made changes to my meds. I can’t imagine going through that in any other living situation – not with friends, family, on my own, or especially in any other shelter. The support that I received from other programmers and staff potentially saved my sobriety and my life. 

I had several breaks from the extreme noise in my head, from the voices. I would just lay in bed, hold my head and cry, and sometimes hit myself in the head. The other ladies would sit with me, and talk to me, and try to bring me back to the here and now. Once I came back, they would get me out of bed to smoke, and prompt me to tell funny stories from my past, knowing that laughter would help me. 

They would help keep me busy. Other programmers would, and still do, check in with me to see if I’m ok or how I’m doing. The staff has been very supportive in my recovery from drugs and my mental health break. I’m so grateful for Interfaith and this program, especially the other programmers and the staff. It’s like a family here. A family that knows my dirt and still cares and loves me for who I am today, not who I used to be. Interfaith has made me confident that I will go far and accomplish great things.