​​​MHCAN of Santa Cruz

Mental Health Client Action Network

1051 Cayuga 831-469-0462

The Only Mental Health Peer-Run Organization

in Santa Cruz, CA

Lily's Story

Hi, my name is Lily and I was born and raised here in Santa Cruz. I identify as a psychiatric survivor and have been a mental health consumer for much of my life. My personal lived experience with mental health recovery has been varied between rehabs, being 5150'ed, and other types of treatment. I have received a few mental health diagnoses, including ADHD, Bi-Polar, C-PTSD, anxiety and depression. There was a point in my life when I left the work force due to my mental health struggles. I have struggled with suicidal impulses, self harm and substance abuse. Today, I find meaning through my Aikido practice, participation in the recovery community and through peer support. 

When I first came to MHCAN I was struggling with severe panic attacks and hyper-mania. I would turn red, shake and sweat profusely. I was paranoid, delusional and trusted no one. I was highly dissociative, and incredibly reactive. I was unable to control or manage my emotions which often led to embarrassing outbursts which filled me with shame and guilt.

Through my participation at MHCAN as a member and eventual full time employee I started to get better. I started to heal. I learned how to feel feelings without trying to escape from the somatic experiences, and even found out that I was allergic to one of my long term psych medications. I was able to change my medication plan and much of my psychic suffering was eased. I got sober, and was given the opportunity to be of service to others. I have finally begun treatment for an auto-immune issue that has plagued me for much of my life. I feel better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually than I ever have. I have been given the opportunity to give back through peer services and I have finally found value and meaning in life.

I found acceptance and family in my experiences with MHCAN. I am eternally  grateful to this place, that held me while I healed, and loved me at my most unlovable.