Friendship Rather Than Fear

Rita, second from the left, spending time with some of her friends from The Well at the spring spiritual retreat.

Rita’s struggles with her mental health began nearly four decades ago. “It started when I had a baby,” she says. Her suffering from postpartum depression eventually led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder—and a long and difficult path of dealing with a serious mental illness. It is with pain that Rita recalls being hospitalized and strapped to a bed due to the condition she’s dealt with for so long.

But it is with joy that she talks about The Well. Since a friend invited her to come to The Well Community 15 years ago, she’s had a place to go where she’s not alone in the challenges she faces. “I’ve noticed that it’s a different atmosphere and the people here understand other people’s illnesses. It’s not like we’re out there trying to struggle.”

“Out there” is a place where many don’t understand mental illnesses and those who live with the daily challenges brought about by these conditions. Rita shares that at times people in the larger community don’t completely trust her because of her mental health struggles. “I guess they’re scared,” she says. The attitudes she’s met with at The Well stand in sharp contrast to those she often encounters in the larger community where she faces stigma, rejection and isolation. But at The Well others are not only aware of how mental illness can impact behavior, but are understanding in the midst of it. They respond not in fear but with friendship.

For Rita, The Well is a place where she can build connections that are often hard to form outside this caring community. “At The Well I have friends who don’t judge my past. They’ve been through their own things and they just understand. I can be myself here,” she shares. “You don’t make friendships like that in everyday life. People here are friendly.”

In the 15 years she has been coming to The Well, Rita has become known as one of those friendly people, and her generous nature and positive attitude have made her a vital part of this community. There, she’s surrounded by people who welcome her gifts and are thankful for her friendship.

Rita met her best friend, Sharon, at The Well Community; she, Sharon and Sharon’s mother, Viola, are constant companions. They come before devotions at The Well’s Community Life Center and stay to help clean up together after lunch. “I’m so glad they’re here to make me laugh and take care of me,” Rita says.

The friends Rita has found at The Well are people with whom she can share both joys and sorrows. They’re a community with whom she celebrates Christmas and Thanksgiving and exchanges valentines in February, but also a support system in times of sadness. When her husband passed away several years ago, Rita’s friends at The Well were there for her as she grieved and came alongside her as she continued to pursue mental health stability.

The supportive atmosphere found in this community allows members to relax and be themselves in the company of others who understand their struggles. “We’re just having a good time,” Rita says. “This is a good place. It always has been.”

The Well helps people like Rita, who suffer with mental health difficulties, rediscover their dignity through the fellowship of belonging. For Mental Health Awareness Month we are launching a campaign to raise $30,000 by May 31 for our programs and services. Please give a gift today to make a difference in the lives of these folks in need. Your kind gifts can help:

  • Keep The Well Community’s doors open for a week ($6,500)
  • Provide one month of worship services ($2,500)
  • Subsidize one month of housing at Jacob’s House ($1,200)
  • Sponsor five members for overnight retreats ($500)
  • Cover costs of 80 lunches for 40 members ($100)
  • Pay for one session of case management ($50)

Please give today. Click here to make an online donation through PayPal or credit card. Or send a check to The Well Community, 125 Sunset Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75208 and note “Awareness Gift.”

Without your ongoing and generous support the hundreds of adults who depend on The Well would have no place to find help and healing. There would be no place to escape the stares of stigma.

 

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