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Hope House: Woman learns skills to cope with mental illness

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I have been a Hope House member for about six years and have attended many activities.

The help I have received there has given me opportunities to learn how to relate better to people and has helped me better understand my mental illness.

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For instance, a recent activity was a Mystery Party. We were told that there had been a robbery and some jewelry was stolen. We were given a list of items to find that were hidden around the house that would help solve the mystery. If we found duplicates, we traded with each other to complete our list of evidence. After the mystery was solved we discovered the secretary was the culprit. Another part of the Mystery Party was to identify various sounds that had been recorded, such as laughter from a staff, a toilet flushing and the paper shredder. Another aspect of the party included pieces of cake with licorice hidden inside. If we discovered the licorice in the piece of cake we were eating, we won a prize.

This is just one of the many activities I've been involved with since I have been attending Hope House.

The fact is, I have a serious mental illness - one that started surfacing when I was a young person and became more evident in my teen years. Withdrawal and depression with serious suicidal thoughts have accompanied me much of my life. In my 20s, things from my past surfaced, coming out sideways. When I would talk with people my conversation was broken and didn't make sense. I experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which led to a long battle of working through my past. I am now learning how to reframe the present and overcome fears.

I was privileged to learn Strengths Training through Northwest Minnesota Foundation, and one of my goals is to reach out in love to the community and use my gifts. I knitted little bags and filled them with a treat to help soften the struggles kids have in life. On a recent snowy January day I delivered them to the Evergreen House. I learned I could now feel love and give love away because God willed it for my life. The crying that I once endured day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, along with violence, was over. I am using my gifts and talents to give joy to others.

I want to thank the Hope House staff and my psychologist for the new beginning chapters of my life - giving to others in the community is the result thus far.

I am 51 years old now. Symptoms I used to experience such as clinging to special persons, suicidal thoughts, angry outbursts and the voices that I once heard are not booming so loudly. The body memories are mostly gone and the paranoia and anxiety have lessened somewhat.

Life goes on, season to season, ups and downs like the weather, and then evens out to sometimes being peaceful.

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Kathy Kippley initiated the submission of this article and is a member of Hope House who recently won a Leadership Award for meeting goals.

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