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Melissa – Rags to Riches

Melissa went from rags to riches.  Her life was a series of moves in and out of institutions, in and out of hospitals and in and out of rooming houses.  During her life Melissa was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder which caused tremendous euphoria one minute and desperation and despair the next.   She knew she could not live alone because she needed support to help her with her illness but hospitals and institutions could not house her forever and so she felt like she was pushed out onto the street. Once on the street she was totally alone and it wouldn’t be long before she would crash and wind up in hospital again.  The cycle just kept repeating itself.

One day a social worker paid Melissa a visit and told her about Options Bytown.  She explained to her that this was supportive housing which meant she could live on her own but if she needed help of any kind people would be there to assist her.  There would be staff available if she became frightened, confused or depressed.  They could get her the help from other agencies in the community as well so that she would not need to go into hospitals and institutions again.

Melissa thought she was dreaming.  This was the answer to her prayers and so when released from hospital she made her way to 380 Cumberland Street where she signed her lease and changed her life forever.

The first night in her apartment was exhilarating.  She climbed into the bathtub and had a long bubble bath.  She had never been able to do that before.  She ate cereal for dinner – just because she could.  She felt safe outside of hospital for the first time.  She had access to a laundry room, a tenant lounge with a big screen TV and had a key to a mailbox that was hers.

Today, Melissa visits with the housing support workers daily and takes part in life skills’ training and workshops and goes with others in the building to outings like the maple sugar bush, trips to the beach and BBQs.  She has made friends and feels a real sense of community at Options Bytown.

She is grateful for every day that she is in safe, permanent housing with the supports that she needs.  This is her home.

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