To be totally honest I had no idea what to expect when I walked through these doors on Friday. I had just spent the last five days on the physic unit at Mercy Hospital after collapsing in a bar from pneumonia. My emergency contact (Gary Goings) was contacted and he informed the hospital that on June 28, 2018, my son Jaycob John, age 19, had died in my arms after a car accident on July 5, 2018, my wife of 22 years took her life, I had literally crawled into a bottle until my collapse. I signed a 72-hour voluntary stay form and was transferred upstairs. I was given a pair of sweatpants, a T-shirt, showed how to order meals, showed my room and the TV room and not spoken again to until I saw the doctor on a teleprompter for about 3 minutes the next morning. He placed me on (Escitalopram 20mg, which he said should start working in 4 to 6 weeks, Hydroxyzine 50mg and Trazadone 50mg). This went on for the next four days. It should be noted that the capacity of this unit was 7 and I was the only one there and the nurses couldn’t take time even once to sit down and talk to me. By Friday I had enough. My friend Gary and one of the staff members asked me to consider going to Rhonda’s House in DeWitt until Gary, who is truck driver, could come pick me up on Nov. 16, 2018. The concern being me being at home by myself. I agreed and was brought by taxi to Rhonda’s House. I initially met with Todd, who instead of asking me a bunch of questions, shook my hand and told me his story; which did two things (1) helped me relax and (2) gave me a sense that I wasn’t alone. After showing me to my room we sat down and did my intake paperwork. It dawned on me about halfway through it that I was finally talking about my loss to a stranger, but I knew I could trust him because of the way he was willing to share his problems with me. Kris, the other staff person working that night, shared with me her story and a little bit bigger chunk of my isolation wall I had built around me crumbled. I’m not going to say I slept great that first night, but I will say I was more relaxed than I had been for months. Since that first night every staff member here has taken the time to tell me their story, which has allowed me to tear down the barriers I had built around my loss. They have helped me get set up with a grief counselor, AA, they have helped me learn the importance of journaling, talking and trusting again. In short, the love, care and compassion of this staff has helped save my life. I can get up at 2 a.m. and come out and talk to whichever staff is working about whatever is bothering me, and know it’s coming from their heart. I went from the brink of death to facing life again because of the love and support of the staff in this house. I know very little about mental health, but I do know what love is and this house is filled with it.

Robert Lyle Littrel

Galesburg, Illinois