Nearly 25% of men and women devastated by homelessness also suffer from severe mental illness. Amy is one of them. Amy’s father died when she was 13, and her mother struggled with mental illness. Nevertheless, Amy thrived in school and later earned college degrees in journalism and pharmaceuticals.
“After college, I worked as a pharmacy technician for a while, then I ended up as a medical editor for a long time,” she says. But by her 30s, Amy began to struggle. “I started to have issues with anxiety and depression, and I had trouble focusing my thoughts. Then it got harder to hold down a job, so there were huge gaps in my employment history, and it all got kind of jumbled.”
As Amy’s illness progressed, her thinking grew more “disorganized.” Unable to keep up with her rent, she finally ended up homeless. She tried living in a car for a while, then on the streets. Her physical and mental health deteriorated until she was eventually hospitalized, diagnosed, and treated with appropriate medications to help her think more clearly. After her release, she went to Open Arms to try to rebuild her life as much as possible.
“So many times, people who struggle with psychotic illnesses, like me, are highly intelligent people,” Amy says. “There are so many stigmas against them, they get in a rut and can’t get out. Open Arms has been such a blessing.” Open Arms provided Amy with safety and is helping her get the psychiatric, mental, and dental help she needs until she can get on disability. She also works part time at Kokomo Rescue Mission’s Care & Share thrift store, giving her some independence.
“Open Arms has been life-changing,” Amy says. “I can’t imagine a better place for me to be. They treat me with respect and dignity. Someday, I hope I can be independent again. But for now, I feel like I have a place to belong and a purpose, and I’m even growing in my faith. People who donate here are amazing. It’s such a good thing!”