Does mental illness seem like something that only happens to strangers? It couldn’t happen to your mom, your best friend, your boss, or you, right?

 
Think again. Mental health problems don’t discriminate, and they affect people from all walks of life. Just ask Sharon, a former consumer of Centerstone. Before she started having severe mental health issues, she says she was an “All-American soccer mom.” She had her own home, a career she loved, and an adoring husband. She also had a diagnosis of bipolar, but her condition was stable with medication.

 
Then everything changed almost overnight. Sharon’s husband was diagnosed with leukemia. He received chemotherapy that caused brain damage and changed his personality, and he began to physically abuse her. Both of her parents fell ill, and her dad passed away. She was held at gunpoint at work. Due to emotional stress, she was forced quit her job.

 
Without a job or income, Sharon could no longer afford to see her psychiatrist or take her medicine. She felt like she had lost everything and started using street drugs to cope. Sharon went through a divorce, lost her home and savings, and ended up homeless. She felt so worthless, and she did things she never could have imagined just to survive.

 
Sharon walked through Centerstone doors as a “last ditch effort” because she had “no intention of living to see the next day.” At Centerstone she started seeing a psychiatrist, received financial assistance, and attended counseling. She also moved into a housing complex for people who have been homeless and started taking her medicine again. These services and supports created a lifeline for Sharon to start a new life.

 
This May, please speak to your friends, family members, and coworkers about mental health to honor Mental Health Awareness month. Since one in four people experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, it is likely that you know someone who is struggling with mental health problems. Your support can mean the difference between starting down the path to recovery and continuing to suffer in silence.