I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia 16 years ago, when I was 26 years old. I have tried
to work several dead-end jobs with no success. I was first hospitalized for my illness in 1991,
and spent nine months in the State Hospital. I have been in several other partial hospitalization
programs since then. In 2003 I started coming to the clubhouse. It’s a great place that keeps
me active and involved. It gives me a place to go. Sometimes when I come I may not be feeling
good, but I make myself come to the clubhouse and by the end of the day I feel much better.
What I like most is that the staff doesn’t try to “get in my head.” I can come in and stay busy,
meet with friends, and even if I’m not feeling good or am having one of my “moments”, my
friends at the clubhouse still respect me.
I got sick 20 years ago. I’ve been in eight other programs since then, and out of all of them,
Racine Friendship Clubhouse has helped me the most. In other programs, they treat me like
a patient. I’m reminded over and over that I’m sick. Here I’m treated like a person – they don’t
baby me. I like to interact with people, and help out in the kitchen.
At one time I was married, but with the onset of my illness my marriage fell apart. In the next
year, I was hospitalized five times because of severe depression and psychosis. My friend
Jimmy started taking me to Racine Friendship Clubhouse four years ago, and since then I
haven’t been hospitalized at all. At Racine Friendship Clubhouse there is a constant flow of
support and kindness. The vocational director of the Racine Friendship Clubhouse found me
a part-time job. In my opinion, spending a day at Racine Friendship Clubhouse is the most
effective way for me to direct my efforts for a better life for me and my friends.
There is so much room here for me to use my creativity. My bipolar condition remains in control
when I have the luxury of participating in a group situation with daily routines. Here I receive the
kind of fellowship that I’m not used to and really enjoy. I hope and pray the Racine Friendship
Clubhouse will flourish and go on to help me and so many people like me. Membership here
serves a real need, and I’ve been a member long enough to see the effects the clubhouse has
on all types of people who are mentally ill. There has always been a gap between good care
for us and community services that sometimes fall short for those of us who are not seen with
a “visible disability.”