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Embrace a peaceful, fulfilling life of adventure and promise


The Thistle


The prickly, lavender plant is often an unwelcome guest in the midst of a beautiful garden—viewed as an eyesore that disrupts the harmony.

Likewise, society often misunderstands individuals with addiction and mental illnesses—perceiving them as burdens or disruptors of our everyday lives.

But thistles are also beautifully fragrant and resilient. Despite facing unfavorable conditions, they demonstrate an unwavering strength that resonates with the spirit of individuals battling addiction or mental health challenges. The tenacity, resolve and courage it takes for these individuals to navigate in the midst of adversity has the potential to contribute significantly to our society, offering diverse perspectives, talents and a unique beauty that enriches the fabric of our communities.

Let’s challenge the stereotypes and biases that hold us back from embracing the resilience, strength and potential within each individual—regardless of their journey. By doing so, we can create a world where gardens flourish with both thistles and roses—where each person's uniqueness is celebrated and cherished.

My story has made me who I am today and has given me the unique perspective of being both the person coping with a loved one with mental illness and being the loved one with the diagnosis. 


I’ve been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses, from chronic depression to PTSD. Although the first diagnosis were situational, they were repeated throughout my 20’s, 30’s and even well into my 40’s. Once you obtain a mental illness diagnosis and receive medication for it, it becomes part of your medical history and the labels follow you for life.

I was raised by an abusive alcoholic who I now realize was simply a broken man who had suffered abuse by his own alcoholic father, but this took me almost my whole adult life to come to terms with. I had no positive memories of my dad until very recently. My own identity had been shaped by negative memories of psychological and emotional abuse which created a version of myself that I believed was unlovable, unattractive and not worthy of being wanted by anyone as an equal partner. This resulted in relationships that confirmed these beliefs and laid the foundation for my own mental illness diagnosis and journey. Sadly, no one could have saved me from this, including my loving mother, nor my closest, well-meaning friends. 

After the first physical abuse I suffered at the hands of a partner while in my late 20’s and shortly after my dad’s suicide, I began my first rounds of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. The side effects caused everything from mania to insomnia which added more medications to my growing list. 20 years of medication ups and downs, in and out of counseling, more abusive relationships, three children with three different fathers, one bad and short marriage where I was the “fixer” since I never felt worthy of an equal partner, simply exacerbated the symptoms of my mental illness. 

Throughout my trauma, severe health issues, and multiple job layoffs, I returned to school at 45 years old to receive multiple degrees — an Associates of Arts; a Certificate in Mental Health and Social Services; a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, Psychology and Sociology, and graduated with honors.

I went on to intern at Western State Hospital, the largest mental hospital west of the Mississippi, for six months where I worked directly with patients.

And then I found the Clubhouse model.

The Clubhouse model is a global Psychosocial Rehabilitation model dating back more than 70 years. I have three years of training, education and employment at one of the largest and top training facilities for the Clubhouse model. 

I also supported the opening of a crisis center as a Peer Support Specialist, which again, allowed me the opportunity to see mental illness from many perspectives as a client of Mental Health services, as an advocate for others with a diagnosis and as an expert in the field of Mental Health support.

My experiences with members and their families has shown me the need for families to have support that is focused on them and not their loved ones’ diagnosis. 

This is a program for people who are struggling to find joy in their lives and they believe it is BECAUSE of their loved ones’ diagnosis and behaviors that they themselves can’t find peace. I guide them in seeing that they can feel grounded, happy and at peace, even if their loved one doesn’t change and is never “normal” again.

All the tools I teach in my programs have been implemented by me, my daughter, and hundreds of clients, enabling us to live happy, fulfilling and enjoyable lives, full of adventure and promise.


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