A path to purpose and happiness
When Lori “Mish” Megow celebrated her 11th anniversary Vail Place member this year, her life felt more stable and full of purpose than it had throughout the two-decade span of her career in finance. In spite of struggling with severe anxiety and depression since her teen years, Lori had worked her way through college and remained employed in her field, although she bounced from job to job as her anxiety worsened. Eventually, her symptoms forced her to quit.
Lori first looked into volunteering with Vail Place at the suggestion of another member she met through a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) class. After Lori met with Vail Place staff, they suggested she consider becoming a member due to her own struggles with mental illness. At the time, Lori didn’t see her mental illness as “serious enough” to become a member. However, the consequences were there. Because people didn’t fully understand what was going on in Lori’s life, she lost many of her friends after experiencing a major breakdown. Although she was under the impression that she was merely on a leave of absence, she had, in fact, been let go from her job.
No Longer Lonely - Acceptance and friendship at Vail Place have transformed Fatuma’s life
Before arriving at Vail Place in November 2017, Vail Place member Fatuma felt sicker and lonelier than she ever had before in her life. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, anxiety, and paranoia when she was only a teenager, Fatuma (now 38) had struggled with mental illness most of her life. “I had been seeing a psychologist for almost 16 years. But medication wasn’t helping me. I had no one close to me to share my problems with,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
A Phone Call Changed Everything
With the help of her doctor and Hennepin County mental health professionals, Fatuma was directed to Vail Place. The first time she visited, however, she felt uncertain about whether she would fit in with the other members of the Clubhouse, whose backgrounds and interests seemed different from her own.
A phone call from another Clubhouse member named Caitlin changed everything.
“I was having a bad, bad day,” Fatuma said. “Caitlin called me and said she wanted to check on me and see how I was. If people don’t come to the Clubhouse, they call to ask how you are. She told me they missed me.”
Having someone demonstrate that they cared and were concerned made all the difference.
“I hung up the phone. I didn’t have a car at that time, so I walked right to Cub Foods and bought a bus pass,” Fatuma said. “I took a bus to Vail Place the next day.”
‘Everybody at Vail Place Understands Me’