I Have a Place at Jane CIzik Garden Place: Cheryl’s Story

DSC_0506Cheryl had made it. After years of working in Corporate America, she was promoted to an executive position at a Fortune 500 company. She enjoyed her fast-paced career. She managed people and projects. She gave motivating speeches in classrooms and
IMG 3313boardrooms. Her colleagues admired her ability to accomplish huge tasks with confidence and ease.

But on the inside, Cheryl suffered. She grappled with unpredictable low and high moods and could not explain her prolonged sadness. The smallest problems became insurmountable. Work overwhelmed her to the point that she wanted to quit. For a long while, she had mastered disguising her turmoil. Those days were over.

“I’m a person who likes to dress nicely and wear makeup,” Cheryl said. “When I was severely depressed, I would put on more and more make up to cover the pain.”

The white-collar life so familiar to her came to a halt in her 30s when she was hospitalized. Doctors diagnosed Cheryl with bipolar depression disorder, putting a name to the illness that mystified her for a lifetime.

“I had symptoms of depression as a child,” Cheryl said. “But my family and I never knew what it was.”

After moving in with her aging parents and becoming their primary caregiver, Cheryl’s condition deteriorated. Stress at home compounded her disease, yet she feared she could never live on her own again. She wanted peace but had no place to go.

Cheryl found help at the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance and the Fort Bend Center for Independent Living. Both programs empowered her to trust in herself and the recovery process to reclaim the life of independence she desired. An employee at the Fort Bend Center for Independent Living encouraged her to visit Jane Cizik Garden Place, a safe-haven for single women with modest incomes or those who are chronically homeless due to mental illness. She went to an open house and knew that she would call it home one day.

“Everything here — from the seemingly minor details — is so beautiful,” Cheryl said. “The place speaks for itself.”

Since last November, Cheryl is living happily and self-sufficiently at Jane Cizik Garden Place and plans to use her public speaking skills to
inspire residents in transitional housing at The Women’s Home. Cheryl’s experience testifies that a worthwhile life of interdependence within a community of courageous women is attainable. She feels grateful coming home to a secure, comfortable apartment she can proudly call her own. Each morning as she drinks a cup of coffee and looks across her balcony to the meditation garden, she takes it all in, realizing she has arrived.