ServiceNet provides a wide range of human services for people across the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires.
By Tam Ward
I would like to share my story about how ServiceNet helped me transform my life. I was 33 years old when I came through the doors of ServiceNet. I had a bachelor’s degree in English at the time and was working on a degree in business. I had been dealing with a severe mental health challenge since I was 16. Even though I took my medications faithfully every day I was experiencing serious manic episodes, including racing thoughts, extreme periods of hyperactivity, and the psychotic voices were back, making concentrating on my important daily activities impossible. The chaos in my brain led me into the streets of homelessness because I could no longer live with roommates or find a new place to live. My life was being turned upside down before my eyes, all the things I had worked hard to attain, including my college courses I could no longer concentrate on and had to take incompletes. I stopped participating in even the simple enjoyments of my life that created routine for me like bike riding and going to the library. Mania was like a freight train without a conductor and hope only came in slivers. It seemed to me I had fallen again and life wasn’t going to change, my mental health challenge was taking me off track again, away from my goal to be working and leading a fulfilling life.
From the moment I walked through the doors of ServiceNet’s therapeutic residential program things did change. I had a safe place to live and the unwavering support of staff, some of whom had their own experience with homelessness and mental health challenges and were comfortable sharing in ways that helped me build back my hope. I realized this was a chance to get my life on the track I wanted it on and that’s exactly what I did. I went to the library every day opening my Accounting book and completed my incompletes. ServiceNet staff referred me to a bipolar support group down the street for individuals experiencing the same symptoms of illness I was experiencing and I learned the struggles I was facing were not unique to me. I was not alone. Staff was there for me every step of the way. They ensured my appointments with my therapist at Cooley Dick covered all the symptoms they saw to ensure I had that strong sturdy foundation to stay on track. I was back on my feet with a renewed sense of strength, confidence and hope that today I do not take for granted. I had my life back. It was true magic, sparked by the warm, knowledgeable, and caring support of ServiceNet staff. I now coordinate the Wellness Program at ServiceNet and am always there as a hope messenger and a listening ear for participants needing that extra glimmer of hope. I am a certified peer specialist and work full-time for the agency. It’s a far cry from business and accounting, but it is a great fit for me and work that comes deep from my heart and experience.
My experience has come full-circle from dealing with life’s challenges. Today, I inspire hope and motivation within participants to overcome their own challenges. I know how hard it is to have hope when life looks bleak. I also know that no matter how far the freight train has fallen or crashed off the track, the track is still there. Each participant has a life destination and ServiceNet is here to journey alongside them, noticing the needs and specific dreams that build their confidence, desire, and success. We take great pride in seeing participants realize their goals. We hope to reach as many participants as we can so they can add their unique talents to this community, as I’ve had the opportunity to do.
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