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Russell's Story

For the past 20 years, day in and day out, Russell has lived with bipolar disorder.  It has tested him during every season, every month of the year.

When he was diagnosed, he spent 74 days in Central State psychiatric hospital.  That’s where he first heard of Wellspring and his case worker referred him to our transitional supportive housing program, Ardery House.

After spending several months at Ardery House learning how to cope with his mental illness, Russell moved out on his own.  He lived stably until he got one of those phone calls that all of us dread:

“In 2009 I got a call from my brother to tell me our other brother had died.  That sent me into a tailspin.  I started drinking and not taking my medication. I lost everything – my apartment, my furniture, my car, my pet cat, and my hope for the future.  I hit rock bottom.” 

For Russell, rock bottom meant spending time in jail.  He experienced months of depression and was plagued by guilt for the things he had done while he was ill. 

Wellspring’s Gaines Crisis Stabilization Unit helped Russell transition from jail to Ardery House, where the staff welcomed him back.  He spent over a year there, where he had to deal with losing everything. “I didn’t even have a winter coat,” he recalls. “But with the help of the Wellspring staff, I found a support group, got into AA, and really worked through the guilt I was feeling.  By June, I was healthy again and I could begin to see a future for myself.”

Russell graduated from Ardery House and moved into Wellspring’s Baxter Avenue Apartments.  There, he got subsidized rent and weekly case management support.  “My new apartment was great, but I kept looking for an opportunity to live on my own, without a roommate.  Then I heard about the Tonini project on the horizon!”

When it was nearing completion, Russell got to walk through the historic rehabilitation project, Wellspring Tonini Apartments, and pick out his apartment. 

“I love it here!”  Russell is delighted with his new home.  He’s decorated it for the holidays and just got a fish tank and some goldfish. “I’m surrounded by good neighbors.  I feel safe and secure here.” 

“After hitting rock bottom, after so much misery, I can say I’m four years sober.  I see a bright future ahead of me.”