May 20, 2014  — Categorized in:

Giving Up is Not an Option: Debra’s Story

DebraphotoDebra, a diligent student taking classes at MHA-NYC’s Harlem Bay PROS program, lives by the mantra “giving up is not an option.” A vibrant woman who graces the front desk at the MHA-NYC corporate office a few times a month, Debra is always willing to help get the job done whenever and wherever needed. Due to her hard work with Harlem Bay PROS, just one of MHA-NYC’s direct services, she is growing into a goal-oriented individual determined to succeed.

Debra, 49, knew at 19 years old that she suffered from a mental illness – but she didn’t know what that mental illness was.

“Everything was going well but, still, I felt depressed for weeks on end,” said Debra, currently enrolled in ‘Writing a Sober Beginning’ and other classes at Harlem Bay PROS (Personalized Recovery Oriented Services), an out-patient recovery program for adults diagnosed with mental illness that brings rehabilitation, support, and clinical services together to achieve life-goals.

Debra has a family history of mental illness. During a random visit to her hometown, she stumbled upon medical records of family members who had all suffered from depression and schizophrenia.

In 1993, she was diagnosed with depression and eventually learned how to maintain it with medication and therapy. But when she lost her job, she lost control. The depression resurfaced. “I had one person to care – my husband. He knows my ambitious character. I realized it was time for therapy.”

Although Debra accepted her setback and sought help, she didn’t have health insurance. That’s when her social worker recommended Harlem Bay PROS. A year later, Debra is four years clean, undergoing treatment for depression, and working per diem at MHA-NYC’s corporate office. She credits her counselors and the PROS staff for her success.

“It was a process but PROS gives people a second chance at life. Since I’ve been at PROS, I’ve found a love, passion, and respect for mental health. This is where I belong,” said Debra who is now seeking a career in mental health peer support.

Debra is committed to overcoming her past, specifically with substance abuse, because she doesn’t want it to hinder her relationship with her grandchildren. “I live for my grandkids,” she ends. “I stay in treatment because my grandkids don’t have to know about my addictions, unless I choose to tell them.” 


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