Rachel has improved her mental health and coping abilities. Rachel has learned to cope with stressors in a healthy manner with support from staff in Supported Community Living and through STEPPS class, DBT, Stairways and individual therapy. In the past, Rachel struggled with self-harm behaviors and has had multiple suicide attempts, both common symptoms of her diagnosis. Rachel is a survivor of a nearly fatal suicide attempt in 2016 and has since then focused on learning about her diagnosis and has taken a very active role in improving her mental health and is functioning at a level that she didn’t think would be possible.
Rachel works very hard on improving her health every day and as a result has become more independent, is able to solve problems more independently and manage stressors and crisis’s she experiences. Rachel is brave and although she can be shy at times, she wants to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness. She wants people to understand that having a mental illness should be nothing to be ashamed of– it does not discriminate and can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, geography, income, social status, race/ethnicity, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, background or other aspect of cultural identity.
She hopes that sharing her story will encourage others to talk about mental illness just as you would any other physical illness and seek treatment and help as she has. Rachel also struggles with chronic pain as she was in a car accident. This limits her ability to work full time as she would like to, however Rachel continues to substitute teach on a part time basis and has a degree in elementary and early childhood education. Rachel is currently working towards being able to self-advocate, and being able to say no when she does not want to do something.
Because Rachel has made incredible strides towards living independently, she was selected by Goodwill as the recipient of the 2018 Edgar Supported Community Living Achiever of the Year award.