To escape the streets, Anthony needed more than partial recovery – he needed wholeness
According to the most extensive survey ever undertaken by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 564,708 people are homeless on any given night in the United States. (huduser.gov) Of those on the streets, an astounding 45 percent, or 254,118, struggle with mental illness. (mentalillnesspolicy.org) But as shocking as that number is, it only represents those who have been diagnosed.
Anthony should have been a part of that number but didn’t know it.
For much of his life, Anthony had no idea the voices he was hearing were all in his head.
“I didn’t know that I was paranoid schizophrenic. I didn’t know that I was bipolar. It put everything into perspective because there were times where I would hear voices and see things, and I thought that people in my life were playing tricks on me. And it was all, the whole time, a mental disorder.”
His diagnosis in prison helped Anthony realize for the first time that much of the trouble he was experiencing wasn’t real. The medication he received behind bars made a world of difference. The voices faded, the tricks stopped, and Anthony was suddenly in control of his thoughts for the first time in a long time. But the clarity wouldn’t last.
“When I left prison, I didn’t have my meds anymore and it all came back.”
On top of his mental illness, Anthony struggled with addiction since he was 11 years old. On the outside, it didn’t take long to pick up old habits.
“The drugs made the voices ten times more horrible. The things I heard… people being tortured and just horrible, horrible things. It can drive you out of your mind. And a couple of times, it did.”
The hopelessness and lack of control he felt caused Anthony to attempt suicide. Thankfully, it didn’t work. The voices plunged him deeper into his addiction, to the point where he robbed a convenience store to pay for his expanded habit.
Fortunately, the robbery ended with Anthony back behind bars where his medication was waiting for him. The voices faded, but he knew it was only a matter of time before he was on his own, addicted, without medication, reliving the nightmare once again.
Anthony needed more than just a partial solution. He needed to find a place that would address his physical addiction, his mental issues, and even if he didn’t realize it, his lack of spiritual connection. In a word, he needed wholeness. Thankfully, your support was there to make a way.
“When I got out of prison, my girlfriend was here at Gospel Rescue Mission. She told me that if I wanted to be with her and that if I wanted to make it work, I had to come to GRM first. So, it was a no-brainer!”
The very first day, you gave Anthony the tools to start out on the right foot. Through our collaboration with the Wellbeing Institute, Anthony was evaluated by a licensed psychiatrist.
“They helped me get back on my medication as soon as I got here. I’ve been taking them for six months, without fail. Everything is going good!”
You provided a spot for Anthony in our recovery program as well, where he’s working on defeating the addiction he’s been wrestling with for the majority of his life.
“It’s a pretty intense set of courses! It’s four days a week that we have these classes, plus chapel, plus group, be it NA or AA or some sort of assistant group. I’ve always had substances in my life, whether it be alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, or meth. Now I’m learning how to cope and deal with life without those substances.”
But for Anthony, what ties it all together is the newfound relationship with Jesus Christ you helped him discover.
“God is number one at Gospel Rescue Mission. I wasn’t a godly man at all when I came here. I was a sinner. I was a womanizer. I was a thief. I was a drug abuser. I was any and everything you can think of. But through them [coaches, staff, and volunteers], I’m learning a new way of life. I’m learning how to put God first. You can’t get through your day or very far in life without having God. Through Him, all things are possible.”
Today, Anthony’s a new creation in Christ, the voices have been silenced, and he’s looking forward to completing his recovery in six months. What’s more, he was recently married to his girlfriend who convinced him to take the journey.
He never thought he would come so far in such a short time – and he has you to thank for it. “They helped me get my life back together and get me back on track and they’re doing it for my wife, too! We couldn’t ask for a better place to be.”