20 Years in the Making- Bethany’s Story

When Bethany first came to Outreach, she wasn’t necessarily homeless. She somehow slipped under the radar and into Outreach’s GED classes. She had been stable throughout elementary and middle school but changed high schools every semester until she signed herself out at 18. She was continuously bullied and struggled with a learning disability that didn’t help the situation. Her anxiety and depression added more difficulty, and the day she signed herself out of high school was a great relief to her.
Bethany came faithfully to Outreach for GED classes, taught by case managers and volunteers. She failed the math portion but kept coming and was tutored by a friend for two hours every day until she passed. She’s says it’s the one thing in her life she’s most proud of.
Besides helping Bethany get at GED, Outreach became a place she finally felt comfortable and didn’t get made fun of. The staff and other clients at Outreach became like a family to her. “They’ve been my biggest support in everything from my schooling to dealing with my mental health. The family and friends I have met here have been my constant through everything.”
Bethany eventually did become homeless after a falling out with her mother. She spent weeks at Salvation Army’s shelter. She doesn’t look back on it as tragic part of her life though. She was surrounded by friends in the same situation and Outreach staff that understood and were committed to walking with her towards life transformation.
Bethany says the greatest gift Outreach has given her has been emotional support. She generally has some sort of work and doesn’t need a whole lot of physical things, but the emotional encouragement people at Outreach have offered her over the years has been a catalyst in her being transformed.
She has indeed been transformed. She has become a capable adult. She says she’s learned money management. Although she doesn’t always make the right decisions, she has learned so many lessons: that little purchases add up quickly, for example. She says she now really understands the difference between what a necessity is and what it isn’t. Bethany says she knows what society expects of her, what people need in an employee, and that she can’t just do whatever she wants. She understands that there are deadlines and rules even though she’s an adult.
It has taken time for her to learn how to do life well with anxiety and depression, but she continuously makes strides. She’s really proud that she has been through day therapy a few times but hasn’t ever had to be hospitalized. The cognitive behavioral therapy classes she has taken taught her coping skills like grounding techniques when an anxiety attack is coming on. She’s learned how to use those skills on her own. She has learned to recognize when her depression is coming on. For her, it’s not an instant sadness, it’s a slow progression. Bethany knows her body’s own warning signs and chooses to be proactive by going outside more, hanging out with people, and using her support system to talk to about it. Outreach has helped her have safe people to surround her. There are still times she stays in bed for three days, but most days she isn’t controlled by her diagnosis anymore. She’s accepted what she can’t change and has found ways to thrive.
Bethany continues to be part of the Outreach family and volunteers in the clothing pantry once a week. She stands as an example of someone who has fought hard for her own mental health. She has been through a lot and is now able to walk with others in similar situations. She is about to begin work as a teacher’s assistant and hopes to pursue her dream of being a teacher. She’s ready to go back into the places that caused her so much hurt and make them beautiful for the next generation.

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