Cleveland, GA


I met Will after he had just arrived at a peer respite center run by the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network.

Will: I lost my son in 2010 in a car accident. I had a nervous breakdown. I had been in AA at that point for 15 years, sober. Before I lost my son I  had never thought about my mental health condition . I was just a contractor, going at it hard in sobriety. I kept busy. Well, when he died I found I couldn't really address it all in AA.

I had heard old timers say, "there may come a point in your life that you need to address some things with outside help." When my son died that somehow came back. I knew I needed outside help. 

I've lost a lot of other people including my own mother in a house fire when I was young. I lost friends to the disease of alcoholism. I was a hospice caregiver for 14 years, so I lost a lot of people. You do as much work as you can to get better, but when another trauma hits and you haven't gotten better from the last one... I had no clue until my son died, that I was still accumulating a lot of stuff, man, and it was mounting up. 

So that's kinda how it went. From that point I was numb, shut down, hated everybody for no good reason.  I was just mad and rejecting of everything. God too. 

So it was tough for those first three years after his death. I went to counseling and groups and doctors and everything. They diagnosed me with bipolar mixed, PTSD, and dysthymia.

Peer respites are voluntary, short-term, overnight programs. They provide community-based, trauma-informed, and person-centered crisis support and prevention 24 hours per day in a homelike environment. Peer respites are staffed and operated by people with lived experience of the mental health system.
— http://www.peerrespite.net/

BW: So, what is it like for you today?

Will: Oh today is just like every day. I try to be part of recovery both mental health and AA.

I'm a little tired, Brent. I go a lot and I do a lot. I have three friends that are in the hospital right now in Athens. Two of them are AA guys and one of them is a street guy that I was working with.

So, what brings me here is that I needed a timeout, a respite. I knew of this place because I worked for Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network in 2010 and 2011. I've got to take care of me if I'm gonna have anything to give to anybody.



An Intense Look At Mental Illness

An Intense Look At Mental Illness