What has Shore House given me for approximately two years? Kriss introduced me to Shore House when I got back from Florida on Christmas Holiday. At the front door I left my mental illness behind (bipolar with anxiety). I was completely treated as an individual from the front door. Everyone here at Shore House is a definite comfort and touches my life as no other program has. I am treated as an adult- there are many, many things offered at Shore House. Everyone comforts each other when they are going through something personal. They would all come visit me many times when I was in rehab for my knee surgery. Dan, another member, helped me with a resume-- what a brilliant guy! A healthy, caring environment where you can come and go as you please; you can’t ask for more than that. They have an awesome thrift store for those who are on a fixed income. I would take care of it at times, which gave me a sense of worth. The gym is a plus, and Shore House bought me a pair of sneakers from a sneaker store in Pier Village. This increased my self-worth.
I was diagnosed with schizoaffective when I was 20 years old and I’ve been on medication ever since. One week I was having a difficult time, I was considering a medication change or even going inpatient. I received a call from Ann asking me to come back to Shore House and I went the next day. After a few days of socialization and Shore House’s unique work ordered day, such as cooking meals, doing clerical work, cleaning, and helping with the art show I felt much better. For the last twenty years, I isolated myself and did not see anybody on the weekends. Now I enjoy meeting with Clubhouse members when the Clubhouse is not open: such as Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. We go for lunch, have coffee, and go shopping. I now have socialization. I averted an inpatient stay at the hospital and no longer need a change in my medication. Without Shore House I felt like I had no purpose in life. At Shore House I feel a sense of purpose and dignity. I am especially grateful to the kind donors who make our Shore House possible. Now I have a fulfilling life filled with purpose and friends, despite my mental illness.
I suffer from severe chronic depression, even though my diagnosis is bipolar disorder. I have been ill for over 40 years. Besides changes in mood, my illness affects other mental abilities, including reading comprehension. I had to drop out of college because I found it too difficult to read, learn, and remember. I had been an “A” student before the depression began. I became too vegetative to function. After becoming ill with bipolar disorder depression, I remained very reclusive. I didn’t have the desire or energy to leave the house or maintain relationships with friends and family. I was a hermit and spent much of my time staring into space. It was very painful. One of the worst parts of depression is the tendency to isolate oneself from society. I remained house-bound for over 20 years. I began attending a very structured partial hospitalization program. It was helpful to be around people and become more functional. At some point, I no longer needed such a highly structured program. It was actually hindering my recovery once my condition improved. Fortunately, I was introduced to Shore House. Shore House is a place where I can interact with people and feel useful. It is a non-profit organization, and the members attend on a volunteer basis. Much of the work is devoted to fundraising and the clerical and logistical operation of the program. However, Shore House also acts to provide me with a creative outlet and a chance to learn new skills that I can use when I reenter the workforce or go back to school. I feel much better about myself, as I can explore my talents and strengths. My self-esteem has improved greatly, and so has my ability to socialize. People at Shore House have similar mental health challenges, so there is a sense of camaraderie. Belonging to a group is very important. I see Shore House as providing me with a way to transition between a highly-structured program and mainstream society. One of the important aspects of membership to the Clubhouse is that one remains a member for life. One can always return for support, despite long absences. Shore House is an aid to my recovery, and is rehabilitative. I feel more connected to mainstream society. This connectedness will make it much easier for me to build a life for myself.
I really enjoy Shore House since I’ve been with them the past five years. I heard talk about them getting transportation; this is something I really need. I live very far from Long Branch where Shore House is set up. I live all the way over in the Neptune area. It is killing my body to get up and walk to the Asbury bus terminal in order to get to Shore House. It is also burning a hole in my pocket. I show up at Shore House very worn out just from the trip to get here, and by the time I show up, I can’t be the best I can be because I’m exhausted from my lack of transportation. It would be great if we could get a driver; I would come to Shore House more frequently and be able to do more work.
I remember the first time I’d seen my art hanging in an actual gallery. I’d felt my heart swell. You see, since I was a very young child I’ve had a deep love of creating art. I’d even intended to grow up and become an artist, but that dream fell by the wayside over the years as I became increasingly depressed and “life got in the way.” When I learned that Shore House was going to have an art show in a real gallery, I was absolutely thrilled. Suddenly, that old life I’d imagined for myself came flooding back. I remember feeling like a creative being again. I ordered a special dress for the Opening Reception—a black retro swing dress with white polka dots that matched my polka dot wedge heels. I even pulled out the crinoline I hadn’t worn in nearly twenty years. Slipping it on, I felt almost like my old self, creative and quirky and proud of the abilities I had. Abilities that I had forgotten were there. I didn’t sell anything that night, but I received enough positive feedback to continue with my art. Two art shows later, I’d decided to go back to my roots, as it were, and start drawing again. I sold three pieces that night and felt like a “real” artist for the first time; an artist who might someday be able to support herself without Social Security. Since then, I’ve sold several more pieces and, for me, having my work and my contributions appreciated means everything.
My diagnosis is bipolar. I started coming to Shore House over a year ago. It has helped me to meet new people. It has also helped me with socializing and not isolating. I like Shore House better than the programs from the past. One of the worst parts about depression is my isolation. I’ve been attending a bible study and an overeating meeting to meet new people and have new friendships. Shore House is a nice place to meet new people. It has helped me to get out of isolation. Also to go out to events. Shore House is a place for support. Reach out to members with a phone call for support. It’s a nice organization.
When I joined Shore House in January of 2012 I wrote an essay on why I wanted to represent Shore House for the three-week colleague training at Fountain House. I was chosen by the membership and the board to do so. That was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I was the only representative from our Clubhouse at the training. I was excited and a bit nervous (but mostly excited) as I’d never stayed in New York City on my own for more than a few hours. I learned about the Clubhouse movement and why we have 36 (now 37) Standards. For those not familiar with the Clubhouse model, Standards are for member/ staff interactions- they are a code of conduct for staff and a bill of rights for members. More importantly, I learned about myself in those three weeks. I learned I could stand on my own and that my fellow colleagues in training loved me and applauded my ability to do so. I was a big asset to all. I was so respected that I was invited to help with future trainings at Fountain House. I brought back all that I learned about the history of the Clubhouse Movement to Shore House. With all I learned I am also starting to believe in myself more and more.
Shore House means being good to people, going in the community, and doing my art work. I love being a part of Art of Recovery, the art show. I am involved with the cooking of meals. I go shopping and I help plan the menu. I write, read, and run the meeting in the afternoon. I like to go on the computer at Shore House and I love signing the birthday cards!
I have always enjoyed my visits to Shore House because it’s a kind of program that you are not required to stay for a certain amount of time. I like surfing the World Wide Web (internet) for things like where I can buy vegetable seeds, or other interests of mine, such as how to better run a vegetable plant sales business. I feel that I pretty much get along with everyone at Shore House. Whenever I am off from work on certain days, or if I have time either before or after work, I will plan to spend time at Shore House. I would also like to offer assistance to those who run Shore House, in whatever events that are taking place, as well as other Shore House members. I plan to continue my visits as long as I possibly can.