Staying Connected and Embracing Life — Dianne’s Story

Embracing our social connections during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for many people, especially those served by the Mental Health Center of Denver.

Dianne, a person we serve, has made a point to call the people on her care team and check in with them to see how they’re doing during quarantine. With some, she has great conversations about their lives and hers. For others, she leaves a heartfelt voicemail filled with good wishes. She knows that the connections between us keep our well-being good. As she embraces communication with the Mental Health Center of Denver community she built, she also enhances her connections and her own well-being.

Dianne’s favorite saying is, “I’m going to do this life six-feet above because I’m not yet six-feet under!” The phrase perfectly captures her zest for life and desire to keep embracing everything she’s cultivated with the Mental Health Center of Denver.

Getting Help from the Mental Health Center of Denver

As a child, Dianne saw her father use alcohol frequently, often leading to physical abuse of her mother. Dianne grew up understanding physical violence to be a “normal” part of relationships. It preyed on her views of her own self-worth, as she endured years of domestic abuse, as well as homelessness in her adulthood.

In 2013, Dianne was given the Mental Health Center of Denver’s Access Center phone number. She decided to make the intake call and was accepted into services. From there, her life began to change.

Dianne makes full use of the services we have to offer. From DBT therapy to classes at 2Succeed, she embraces enhancing her well-being with the Mental Health Center of Denver’s support.

Clinical Case Manager Debra Martinez has worked with Dianne for almost five years at the Recovery Center. She says, “Dianne uses the skills she learned in DBT to talk about how she feels. I remember her saying she was, ‘using [her] wise mind and practicing [her] coping skills…[She] knows if this were 2 or 3 years ago, [she] would be doing something totally differently and more negatively….’ If Dianne doesn’t understand something, she is very open and honest about how she feels. She goes the extra step to explain how she does feel in a very appropriate and conscientious way.”

Martinez continues, “Dianne isn’t afraid to ask questions, and is not shy about speaking up for any support or needs she has at the moment. Because Dianne speaks up about her needs, she is able to receive multiple services through the Mental Health Center of Denver. Sometimes she just needs a listening ear. She has asked about joining groups to mentioning her need for food and being provided groceries from the Mental Health Center of Denver food bank.”

Because of Dianne’s self-advocacy and communication of her needs, we have also been able to help her find stable housing, classes through 2Succeed, and a place on the Well-Being Partnership Council.

Connection During COVID-19

COVID-19 has disrupted day-to-day life all over the world. We have rapidly adapted how we provide services to our community. This has also required adaptation and flexibility from the people we serve.

Dianne has remained optimistic and enthusiastic about getting through COVID-19 as a community. She says, “I really appreciate that the Adult Resource Center is putting out lunches and that the Mental Health Center of Denver is giving us food boxes. 2Succeed is doing classes on conference calls now! I also love that I can have my appointments with Debra and my psychiatrist over the phone. When it’s time to gather and come back together, I’m going to embrace it!”

She continues, “I also love being part of the Well-Being Partnership Council. Vincent knows how to lead the Council so well! He really does an excellent job and it’s a joy for me to be part of it. I love getting to share my experience.”

“Dianne is very passionate about her recovery journey, the role we have played in that, and sharing her story with others. She always wants to see others improve and get help, while promoting the Mental Health Center of Denver as a fantastic resource to do so,” says Quality Facilitator & Advocate Vincent Leasher. “Dianne is very active in sharing her feedback and perspective in the Council.  She even reached out to me first to suggest we try to do our meetings virtually during these stay-at-home orders to be sure we would still be having them.”

Embracing Life to the Fullest

Dianne’s philosophy nowadays is to embrace her life to the best of her ability. She peppers her conversations with positive quotes and good wishes. One of her favorites is: “Having some place to go is a home; having someone to love is a family; having both is a blessing.” Her optimism infuses and informs her outlook on life.

Among other things, Dianne loves to cook, help her neighbors, care for her adopted dog, and compose poetry. After living through colon cancer recently, Dianne encourages the people she meets to advocate for their medical care.

“The Mental Health Center of Denver helped me so much when I was going through cancer,” she says. “They helped me make sure my insurance was all set. They really supported me emotionally and mentally when I was feeling really low. If it weren’t for this organization, I don’t think I’d be here today.”

Vice President of Rehabilitation Services Heidi Eastman says, “While working with Dianne as her Employment Specialist, she taught me so much about the importance of gratefulness and gratitude.”

For so many of the people who meet her, Dianne has become a beacon of hope. She embodies our organization’s philosophy that people can and do get better. Most of all, she works hard every day to enhance her well-being with the Mental Health Center of Denver’s support.

“You’ve got to embrace it,” she says. “It’ll fill your heart. You may not know it right away, but the Mental Health Center of Denver will fulfill your life with the activities, groups, therapy, and more. Before you know it, you’ll feel like you’re part of everything. If I didn’t have the Mental Health Center of Denver, I’d be sitting here alone and just watching TV. You guys gave me a sense of direction and responsibility. Mental Health Center of Denver saved my life and filled me with joy. They’ve created a slice of heaven for me.”