Recently I was a participant in a University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Psychology Community Reintegration Program, or CRP.
As a sufferer since early childhood from major depression, severe anxiety and ADD, my life time has been one replete with major mental-health issues. Long ignored, despite visits to shrinks who more often than not were loopier than I, about two months ago, on the advice of my current psychiatrist, I entered into the CRP. It promised to offer improved coping skills, social interaction (which I, as a disabled journalist who works primarily from home desperately require), and an excuse to get out of the house four days a week for reasons other than grocery shopping, hitting Walgreens for my precious meds, or stopping in the verboten McDonald's, which is no longer a haven for the more healthful dieter into which I have evolved.
The program offered me sessions with fellow group members in everything from living advice—from daily hygiene to ensuring to awake each morning as though there is a bluebird perched on your window sill—to coping mechanisms, learning to deal with and in spite of mental illness, focus groups and planning ahead for one's week and weekend. I entered into the program a tad skeptical but, due to its savvy staff of social workers, was soon a satisfied customer.
Unfortunately, a month ago circumstances beyond my control forced me to drop out of the CRP. The programs' administrators, as well as my shrink and some of my friends thought I ought to continue on with the program despite a major dilemma in my life—pending eviction with no ways or means to move. Perhaps it may have helped me better cope with my tsuris, but, seeing that at the end of each program day I was both mentally and physically exhausted, and wouldn't have been able to act on what needed acting on, I made the dubious but right decision.
What I garnered from the CRP will last me a life time, and, God willing, in my new home, Nashville, Tenn., sharing a home with my dear brother and loving nephews—despite the fact that I'm commandeering the eldest one's bedroom—I will seek there a similar program, albeit probably one with a country-western theme. My plan, partially formulated thanks to skills I acquired in the CRP, is to help out my brother and his sons as much as they help out me. I sort of see myself as Uncle Charlie, from "My Three Sons."
So, to all those sharp, sensitive, savvy gals at CRP, please accept my eternal gratitude.
You've certainly earned it.