Talking About Suicide

Talking with Linda Fuglestad


The road to talking with Linda Fuglestad started with the National Empowerment Center, which offers a directory of the dozen or so peer-run crisis services across the country. Linda was among the people at the crisis centers who responded to a hello.

Cheerful and articulate, with a Vermont home that’s often full of family, she found time in the final days of a busy academic semester to describe her own experience and explain just what a peer-run crisis center does. It sounds far more comfortable and engaging than a psychiatric ward, to be sure. The project where she works, Alyssum, is being watched as a pilot project in parts of the mental health world.

“We’re all human beings, we’ve all had pain and suffering and sharing,” Linda says. “And I think that’s just the human part that never should have been taken out of the counseling model in the first place. It seems to be on the way to being added back in, and I think it’s been a long time coming.”

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Linda Jean Fuglestad. I’m a divorced mom with four great daughters and, more recently, two older foster children and nine grandchildren. I love having a big family. I’m working on my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, and am looking forward to later being a therapist to work specializing in trauma, and I also hope to work with foster children and families. I currently work at a new pilot program funded by the Vermont Department of Mental Health, the peer-hosted alternative crisis respite, Alyssum, Inc., in Vermont. And I really love my job.

How did you come to be talking with me?

My executive director, Gloria van den Berg, forwarded an e-mail saying you were writing about people’s experiences surviving a suicide attempt. The way I came to have my suicidal experience happened when I was 15. Everything was about my mom. She was drinking, bipolar, had multiple personalities. She’d had a traumatic childhood of her own. When I was 15, I wanted sometimes for things to be about me. Sometimes I created my own problems, I guess, although I didn’t see it that way back then. I tried to figure out how to feel seen and heard with a mother with so much going on, and I wasn’t really being the real me. I ended up with a boyfriend who was very attentive, and I liked that. He was young, handsome and rebellious, and that was exciting at the time, but later I felt kind of stuck when I was wasn’t ready to be settled down yet. My mom, in particular, was pushing me to keep him. I didn’t agree, but the guilt was huge about leaving him, and everything just felt overwhelming. I decided I was just done. Nothing in my world was about me or what I wanted. I didn’t know who I was, where I was going. I felt I didn’t have anybody to talk to about that. I washed down a whole bottle of aspirin. Then I was thinking about it and started to panic. Maybe I did want to find out who I am, who I want to be. I called my boyfriend’s grandmother, who was a nurse. I panicked and said, “This is what I’ve done, what do I do? I’ve changed my mind.” She told me to vomit up the aspirin and drink lots of milk. I did. I never told my parents, my sisters, not even my best friend. I had quite a long time with ringing in my ears. It was quite a long time before I could or would take aspirin again. Just the smell of one would make me sick.

I struggled in a long relationship I wasn’t happy in after I had time to look at my life, and which later turned into an abusive marriage. But I decided I was not going to give up on me. I promised God I was never going to do it again. And I never did. I feel like I was selling out, like I was shorting myself and not giving myself enough credit for figuring out how to work through it. I’ve been through a lot of tough things in my life, and I’ve been in some phases of being really low, tired, depressed, places when life was tough, and I thought about it, but I decided I was a survivor. I was going to figure out a way to do it or ask somebody else for help. So through another marriage that didn’t work despite my trying really hard to work it out, after having loved him with all my heart, and then becoming a single mom again, it hasn’t been easy. There’s been a lot of struggles. A lot of times I thought maybe I wanted a way out, but I have never again wanted to take that way out. I had my girls to be a role model for, and they were counting on me, and I would want my dad to be proud of me. I’m not a quitter. I adopted the mantra, “It is what it is.” I keep on going. I slowly looked at the areas of my life I needed to change, and piece by piece I worked things out, sometimes alone and sometimes by talking to others, and slowly I put my life back together and felt balanced and stronger than ever. If I’d ever had a label after all my struggles, I would have finally outgrown it again.

How did your thinking turn to helping people like this?

I’d say when I was in my early 20s. I tried being a nurses’ aide before you needed all the licensing criteria. I liked working with elderly people. I saw my mom doing it. Despite her issues, she very loving, caring. She did her best to be a good mom. A good role model in her own way. She loved being a nurses’ aide. I tried it as well and really liked caring about other people and making their struggles as pleasant as possible, so they’re not alone. Later, I spent 14 years working in a factory close to the ballfields and school in my hometown so I could be there for my kids. I had decided that my number one goal in life was to be a good mom, and I worked really hard at it. At some point along the way, I decided that there is more to me than just being Linda and being a mom, and I found out more about who I am after an accident at work changed my life.

When I hurt my back in 2001 at my job, the result was me getting retrained for different work by taking some classes. I started out to get a certificate to be a medical office assistant. About two weeks into it, I realized that sitting still wasn’t going to work with constant back pain. A guidance counselor I went to helped me see that all the classes I wanted to take were under the heading of Human Services, which I didn’t realize until then was a real thing. So I went beyond the classes they were willing to pay for, got my associates in Human Services, got into a field working with people, and I really loved that. I did an internship at Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. My mom had been a foster child, we had had foster kids in the house growing up, and over the years, with the house always full of kids, I started thinking maybe this was something I could do, too. So I took the classes to be a foster parent, got my AS, then a BA in psychology and human growth and development. My first professional job was as a Healthy Babies, Kids & Families home visitor, and I loved it. Soon after I started that job, they asked me to add being a parent educator for the Even Start Family Literacy Group. I was driving all over Rutland County, helping moms and dads finish school and helping them to become healthy families and get everyone’s needs met.

I realized while doing this work that the parents often needed the nurturing even more than the kids. That’s when I decided to apply for the job of therapeutic case manager. I started working with families, helping them to work on challenges their children had. And again, I loved it. I decided to continue with my degree, working on my master’s so I could be a therapist. On the way to that, I found Alyssum, in Rochester, hosted by peers for mental wellness. I love that, too. We work as peers. I got offered the job of peer support host. Before I even started the job, the executive director called me back and said, “We want you to come back and interview for house manager.” I was like, “Whoa, I’ve never been a manager before!” We started talking about my experience and skills and then I realized, “Oh, yes, I do know how to do that. I have already done some of that!” So, I jumped in, and it was great!

I helped Alyssum get started, along with Gloria and Karen Bixler. They had had the idea a few years before that, and we got to start on the ground work and actually make it happen. It’s been really exciting to see the changes, to see different ways to view mental health _ the amazing things peers can do for each other. I think I’ve learned as much from the guests as they’ve learned from me. Very heartwarming, amazing. A lot of people heal because they get to be heard and understood and treated like human beings without all the mental health rules getting in the way. So here I am.

How did you tell your co-workers you were a peer?

That started in Gloria’s kitchen on day one of the interview. The ad in the paper said “peer-hosted,” and I had no idea what that meant. It said you had to have lived mental health experience. I thought, “Does that mean me? Or growing up with my mom?” When I got there, Gloria asked me to describe my own experience. I told her about my ongoing battle in the past with depression and about having PTSD from past trauma. I didn’t want to get mental health services because I was afraid they’d label me like they did my mom. By the time she died, she had been on around 23 medications. It was like they had used her as a guinea pig, trying this and trying that. There was a lot that they didn’t know about personality disorders, especially bipolar, back then. I found out she was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, which she wasn’t. She was bipolar, and they missed the diagnosis of multiple personalities she had from childhood trauma. During college, I interviewed her therapist, who agreed with me. After I advocated for her to have the right medications and less of what she didn’t need that was making her miss out on experiencing her own life, her last 10 years of her life was the best time I’d ever had with my mom. Finally, she was engageable again. She was, like, back as a real-life person, laughing and fun and beautiful. I really felt like I had my mom back. I’m sorry my sisters weren’t here to get that time with her, too!

Looking back, I had wanted to avoid the whole mental health system. I had seen what they had done to my mother. So I had struggled silently by myself. Finally, desperate to feel more alive after years of being depressed and after researching it, I talked to my family physician and at his suggestion, wanting something he said was non-addictive, I  tried Wellbutrin, which I thought of at the time as a glorified magic non-aspirin, vitamin kinda thing. I didn’t know anything about medications, as I’d never taken any. It gave me more energy, perked me up, got me through a tough time. I said, “OK, I will not stay on medication for a long time, though. I need to see what part is me.” I was afraid of long-term effects of any medication, so I weaned myself off of it slowly and carefully. I was done with it, without telling anybody. I compared the before and after and remained feeling just fine. Best of all, I realized I had outgrown or worked through a lot of my feelings of being out of balance, all that being on a roller coaster kind of feeling, a lot of ups and downs I didn’t seem to have been previously able to control. I knew I wasn’t bipolar. I had seen my mom, studied it, had helped people living with it. It wasn’t me. So I worked on myself, worked through some stuff, and the closest conclusion that fit was that I experienced depression and issues from past trauma that had disrupted my life, and by purposely choosing to get past it, I forced myself to get out of that mold and get on with my life.

And there are a lot of things I said and did when I was younger that I wish I could stuff back into a box, but I learned from them, and I changed. And I understand other people’s pain a lot better. I guess if I looked back, I wouldn’t change it. I don’t like it, but I wouldn’t change it. I’m glad I experienced it, so I can understand what other people are struggling with. So, that’s how I got to be where I am now. I’m not exactly sure where I’m going next and when I’ll finish my degree. I have two semesters left for my MA, and I’m working on it. I just know I will help people who are struggling and know I will have to find ways to adapt holistic into the medical model.

How can you be a therapist without falling into the typical medical model?

What I do later as a therapist can have all the appropriate balance of the medical model, but I feel it can also still have the caring and compassion that people share as a peer. In the medical model, a lot of therapists don’t share anything about their own personal experience or let people understand they’ve been there. Colleges teach therapists to be professional, keep proper boundaries, to be cautious and more impersonal. And good boundaries are certainly important, but I think that the peer part of sharing, letting people know you understand because you’ve been there, is also very important. More textbooks now are talking about holistic care, wellness alternatives, homeopathic options, and colleges are taking note and are including this as pieces of our training now. We’re all human beings, we’ve all had pain and suffering and sharing. And I think that’s just the human part that never should have been taken out of the counseling model in the first place. It seems to be on the way to being added back in, and I think it’s been a long time coming.

What have been some of the surprises while working at Alyssum, the lessons?

I’m blessed to have a lot of good trainings. At least three months of trainings that I helped choose, along with Gloria and Karen. Later, other staff added things they wanted to have for trainings as well. We’ve had CPR, First Aid, Nonviolent Communication, training on Hearing Voices, Open Dialogue, Self-Harm trainings and such, and the biggie, Intentional Peer Support, and what it means to be a peer. We’ve had some great trainings on safely coming off psychotropic medications and got to hear Robert Whitaker talk about the dangerous side effects of psychotropic drugs. I am going to blog on his website soon, hopefully! We had talks about spirituality, honoring people right where they are.

But we were still nervous when the first guests arrived. We were not sure we’d be ready, so we were learning on our feet. But one of the trainings that is really important, and I think every place that works with peers or anybody in mental health system really should have, is self-harm. We had some really good trainings, discussions about people who use cutting as a coping skill. We say it that way, not just say people are cutters. It’s a behavior, not a label. I would say that’s one of the huge things I have learned, is to see people’s self-harm techniques as a way of coping, feeling something, where a lot of the world views it as, “Oh no! Call 911.” We had some people with those kinds of experiences. You have to assess if it’s a coping skill and if it’s an emergency or not. By being treated like a human being and by working on the feelings under the behaviors, we have had some successes already with people who no longer cut after a stay at Alyssum. We’ve had people come to us who are hearing voices. Some things were new and unfamiliar. We were kind of winging it as we went along.

The experiences, though, of our staff have really worked out to keep us balanced and moving forward. We have many talented co-workers who bring a lot of amazing life experiences and skills to us, which benefit our guests. I guess the beautiful thing is, we have a really great group. We have co-supervision every Thursday, with eight to about 14 of us. We talk through how things are going, ask questions, invite guests. We don’t call them clients. We include them, ask them for suggestions and ideas. We work with each other, role play it out until we think we’ve come up with the best response. We have worked with ideas with guests, with each other. I think every time we work with somebody new, it gets a little better. We keep it human and real at the same time. It’s great to have a place where you can go to work in jeans and be outside barefoot, and where you can dig your toes into the dirt in the greenhouse, talk with guests while digging vegetables, or cooking in the kitchen, or snuggling a therapy dog. Every day is different. There is a positive energy in the house, and as peers, we help guests, we help each other and always, we grow and learn.

Basically, how does it work?

As best I can explain it, we’re the first in Vermont, we are a pilot program, funded by the Vermont Department of Mental Health. We got started with a grant. To get into Alyssum, you need to either send us an e-mail on our website, where we have an intake packet with criteria, or you have to be referred by an agency or yourself. And you can fill out the info on why you need crisis respite and make sure you fit our eligibility criteria. You must be a resident of Vermont, age 18 or over, and not on the Vermont Sex Offender Registry. In order to be eligible, you must have a definite place for housing that you will return to after your stay with us. We don’t have the funding to help with housing, By the time you finish the paperwork, you still need some kind of referral from an agency, a licensed mental health professional that knows you well enough to testify you’re a good fit for the program. We don’t do detox for meds or drugs or alcohol.

People need to have self-awareness to “work on their stuff,” as we call it. You’ve got to have an idea of what it is you want to work on. We can help you get to that part if you are having a hard time expressing it. You tell us about your past experiences, past traumas, whatever you feel you want to share. And while we do ask for people to have a referral saying they’re not a danger to themselves or others, we are also clear that we do take people who are suicidal, in a mental health crisis. We just ask that people are not in imminent danger to themselves or others. So that the staff is safe. And the other guest. So that the person has enough cognitive awareness to at least process feelings with the staff. We don’t turn people away that use self-harm skills. We’ve had people who use burning and cutting, other kinds of self-injury. Like most places, of course, there’s no drugs, no alcohol and no weapons on the property. We do mostly organic food. We grow a lot of our veggies that we use throughout the year. We eat healthy, and we encourage others to do this also.

Guests have to be able to take care of their own activities of daily living, take their own medications. We don’t hold onto people’s meds. They’re in a lock box with their own keys. They’re in charge of that themselves. If people would like reminders for their meds, we will do that. They would do an intake, then once they get a referral from a mental health professional that says they’re a good fit, then they can get on the waiting list. It can be anywhere from a couple of people to 20 people. And a guest stays typically a couple of days to a couple of weeks. A two-week stay would be average. Anybody staying longer would have to be looked at on an individual basis, and the executive director determines if they stay longer on a case-by-case basis.

One criteria, people have to have stable housing to return to when they leave. We’ve learned through trial and error that a lot of people in the mental health system have issues with people being homeless. It breaks our hearts that when people get comfortable, they don’t feel well or safe going back to where they were. We would love to do more with that, we do work with Pathways to Housing but we’re not a housing agency, that’s not what the program is for. At the beginning, we had a guest come, and later they didn’t have a place to go, and that put us in an difficult position. They do have to have secure housing to return to.

You get on the waiting list, keep calling, checking in. You can have a support stay or a crisis stay. After someone has been to Alyssum, we become part of their support. They can call and say, “Hey, I’m having a rough day, can I just talk a little bit?” Sort of like a warm line. We’re there 24-7, somebody’s awake night and day. We’ve become this really huge family, with 50 to 60 guests who check in, “Doing great” or “Tough day. Having voices.” But we have a really high success rate so far of people working through their own crisis, looking for ways to make their life better. And getting back to their lives.

How many people can be there at once?

Only two. We have two bedrooms. It’s a family-style house. Everybody is there of their own free will. They can come and go as they please. They’re there voluntarily. If they choose to leave in the middle of their stay, they may lose their spot. We have male and female staff. Everybody is peer-hosted. All are peers, including the executive director. And we have anywhere from 10 to 11 staff at a time altogether. We have either one or two people on a shift. If there’s somebody with really high needs, we adapt staff accordingly. We do all kinds of cool stuff, cooking together, gardening, hiking, laughter yoga, meditation, Reiki. We do energy healing. We do co-supervision, or staff meetings, every Thursday, often with a different training by others or put on by one of us. Role plays. Guests join in if they feel like. it. We have a library, music, exercise stuff, arts stuff. We have a deck out back where people can watch nature. We have a nice big yard, a fire pit, a gazebo, a garden, a greenhouse. Down below is the river. People collect rocks to bring back to paint sometimes, or to bring back a piece of Alyssum when they go home. A lot of people call being here “a little piece of heaven.” Many former guests come back and visit. A lot of guests volunteer to come back and work in the gardens. Some people come back and need a support stay, two or three days or a day, and will work little more intensely on what they’re working on. A few guests have later come back to be hired as staff.

We don’t encourage or discourage medications, but we do suggest people educate themselves about what they are taking and how they are feeling, and we are open to discussions if people want to talk to their primary care providers about coming off medications safely, but they can’t do that while at Alyssum. We do advocate that if what people are taking is working, they should stick with what works. We offer healthy alternatives for people to try for wellness, such as laughter yoga, meditations, exercise, energy work, active listening, breathing techniques and much more. A lot of what we do has made some life-changing difference already for many of our guests, and we’re excited about this!

What have been the toughest challenges?

I guess some would be when people were in that place where they didn’t want to live and just felt like they wanted to die, they wanted to just walk out in the dark or the cold and take stuff and just go. And sometimes we can’t have the answer for somebody, what it is they need to connect to, to want to stay. So we really have to dig deep sometimes to figure out what we might be able to share or say. Or sometimes just be patient and listen if someone is trying to vent their feelings. We have to search for, “What can we give this person so they can find something in themselves so they want to stay alive?”

Has anyone walked out and killed themself?

No. So far, so good. And we’re in touch with all former guests at intervals for followups, at typically one week, two weeks, three weeks, a month, three months, six-month intervals. So we get a pretty good sense of how people do after they leave, and this is part of the data we track for our funding. We’ve had guests who started walking down the road and said, “I’m leaving.” Really, all we can do is remind people they’re here voluntarily. We can’t make them stay, we can’t make them want to live, but we hope they do. I would say out of maybe three or four times that has happened since we opened that we’ve only had one person who just decided to walk away and leave. And everybody else thought about it, came back to talk about it, work through it, at least got calm enough to get someone to pick them up and go home because it was not the right time or the right fit. We’ve never had someone walk away and not come back. We’ve had people leave. And so far everyone who’s done that, those couple of people, they’ve changed their mind and decided to come back. And they did.

We’ve had a few people who were not a good fit for the program, not in a cognitive place to be able to work on what’s going on with them. I’d say 98 percent of guests have reported positive experiences there so far. We track this with a departure evaluations, and we use the LOCUS scoring to track stress level and mental health evaluation at arrival and again at departure.

Is that a self-evaluation tool?

Yes, the VDMH and many designated mental health agencies use it as a tool to evaluate levels of stress and overall mental health. For when a person arrives and leaves. It’s done together with a staff person. It’s what we use for tracking. So we can track our success rates, and this helps us qualify for more grants to stay open. The percentage of overall change is recorded and used for monthly tracking and year-end reports to the state of Vermont.

I would say probably one of the toughest things about being peer-hosted is, we’re all human beings. We have some people who push our buttons, who remind us of our own painful experiences, and we have to figure out how to cope with that and still take care of both ourselves and guests. We have a saying of “sitting with your discomfort.” And sometimes that’s our discomfort, and sometimes that’s asking guests to sit with their discomfort. And that’s turned into some learning experiences. We’ve had people sad, hurt feelings, upset, angry, disagreements at times, but the cool thing about being peers is that we just talk it out. And we’ve had a lot of people come to Alyssum who said it’s really good to talk to somebody who knows what they’re talking about. Who’s “been there.” Who understands. There’s no hierarchy of power, all just equals and peers. Everybody is allowed to say how they feel. If people have a disagreement, they talk about it. It’s been a very healing place for peers and guests.

Talking is part of self-care?

Yeah, if it’s peer-hosted, it tends to be a place where it’s OK for a staffer to say, “This is uncomfortable for me.” Or, “I don’t know the answer to that.” Or, “Maybe I’m not the right person for that.” We need to be able to have some limits. And it’s really hard sometimes when someone wants to share something intensely painful. It might bring up old stuff for us, or be unfamiliar: “Whoa, I don’t know how to handle that.” And we tell people that. We have _ I guess you’d call it a rule _ if we have a guest who triggers someone on the staff to where they feel they can’t put their best self forward, they can ask somebody to cover a few of their shifts. Or you can say, “While this guest is here, I want to be off shift.” We encourage talking it out first, we reach out to each other for self-care, and we role model this to guests. We remind each other after a tough day to go home with your family, read a book, take a bath, do something to relax and unstress. The things everybody should do.

Has there been any skepticism from the established mental health community?

We do have people come sometimes who say, “Where’s the schedule? What do you mean guests have to take their own meds?” And guests who ask that or things like, “You’re supposed to be telling me what I’m doing today.” We’re self-directed. We do have many people who may be very used to the medical model. That’s the time we’re just saying, “Well, we’re peer-hosted. If you really want a structured program or feel this is not a safe enough place or want more a secure environment, there’s the hospital for that, or maybe other options.” Most guests grow quickly to love having choices about creating their day any way they want. Guests have really loved field trips and going hiking, going swimming, or being able to leave for a few hours and go have lunch with a friend or family member who came to visit them or with a staff person. Guests also enjoy helping cook or go shopping for stuff at the local market, bookstore or bakery. Some people just sit and watch the birds on the deck and have time to think and relax, and it’s just what they need. Many designated agencies are asking for trainings from us, and many say their clients love the sound of what we do here. Skepticism has been brief and rare. Some mental health professionals say they wish they could come as a guest!

What about the mental health professionals?

I would say when some of our people do trainings on Hearing Voices, Open Dialogue, they have had groups of people with lots of questions. Overall, they love our trainings and have asked for more. We’re training them in a lot of cases. For the most part, everybody seems to love us. We have had psychiatrists and psychologists come to visit us, nurses. Almost everybody seems to agree that, overall, what we’re doing is working. Guests like it. They want to come back, to tell everybody about us. I’m sure there’s people who are skeptical, but we’re also getting more calls all the time asking about the program. There’s a lot of therapists, psychiatrists and counselors out there who say, “Sign me up.” They want to be on the waiting list. We have had counselors as guests. We haven’t had any complaints, except that people wish there were more Alyssums already and that they wish we had more beds for guests.

Why aren’t these centers all over the place?

Because we’re new and the pilot program. We’re going to prove that it works. They need to see the numbers of our success and that we are saving the state money on lowering hospitalizations and use of services for guests who have been to our program. I see it happening already, so it’s already in the works. There’s other places calling asking where there is an Alyssum near them, and they are sad to hear that there isn’t. In fact, I took a call a week ago, from a program in Massachusetts, calling us and saying, “How did you set up your program?” A lot of people are looking to us to model a program after. Some places are starting to want to do more of what we’re doing. Mental health agencies staff are emailing us and asking us for our Open Dialogue and Hearing Voices trainings for co-workers and supervisors. I’m hoping this is going to be the new way of mental wellness.

Who else are you?

I think I’m still discovering who I am. But despite past struggles, I am also a caring, compassionate person who is a writer, a gardener, a budding therapist, someone who is still full of hope that I will have something to share that will make other people’s lives even more beautiful somehow, more whole, more complete, more fun, more real. My children are mostly grown now, turned into beautiful young women, but we are all still very close, and they are my world. I also have nine grandbabies. Just seeing all this life growing is really exciting. I don’t really know exactly all of who I am, but I’m expanding my mind every day. I love learning from guests, from my co-workers, from my children and grandchildren, and I hope that I make a difference. I’m still figuring all that out. I feel like I’m younger than when I was 30.

Sometimes when something makes me laugh out loud, it reminds me of a former boyfriend of mine once who told me that “being this optimistic and hopeful is just not normal.”

Not for you, or not for the world?

For the world. And I said, “Well, if that’s what normal is, I’m fine not being normal.” So I’m still learning. I think we all stay young inside if we continue to laugh and grow. We just try to stay open-minded and realize that each person is new and different. It doesn’t matter if it’s a guest, one of the family, we all learn from each other. It’s what the whole world should be. That’s why I’m excited about Alyssum and glad to be a part of it. I think it will be the beginning of a lot of amazing things that will change in mental health programs.

People should talk about mental wellness like we do any other checkup. When we see our family, neighbors or friends struggling, instead of avoiding them or acting like we don’t see that something is going on with them, we should just be able to say, “What can I do to help?” Mental wellness, physical wellness, it should all be okay to talk about. If someone is suicidal or depressed, we should be able to ask if they are okay and what do they need. Sometimes people need counseling and medication, but sometimes they just need someone to care, to listen, to give them a moment to remember what is good about them, and maybe they need a hug or a good night’s sleep. Maybe they just need someone to ask them what they need. We should just all be peers. Someday, hopefully, that’ll be the new normal.

We have a motto: “It’s not what’s wrong with you, but rather, what has happened to you.” Most or all of our guests with mental health issues in crisis come to us with a trauma background.  It is often through healing the past trauma that we become whole again. If we can’t be totally whole again, we will work to be the best that we can be, and that is good enough. We are all doing the best that we can.