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Individual Success Story


Just before her birthday, Alyssa suffered a huge blow that set off a chain reaction of struggles. In the depths of her despair, she found herself battling severe depression that resulted in a failed suicide attempt. 

“My husband decided to finalize our divorce and I was devastated,” Alyssa remembered, wincing. “Up until then, my life had been pretty normal. But then I started to act very strangely, in a wild and reckless manner.” 

After several manic episodes, Alyssa found out she had bipolar disorder. On the surface, this was news to Alyssa. But deep down she knew she hadn’t been happy for a long time. At fifty years old and before her divorce, to the outside world, it looked like Alyssa had achieved success. It was her divorce that was the catalyst that brought her mental illness to the forefront.  

Amidst her recent diagnosis, Alyssa lost her 22-year-long career, the custody of her children, and reached the brink of losing her home. She couldn’t work or get out of bed most days. Other times, Alyssa would be on a manic high, furiously spending money and doing dangerous things. She tried various medications and therapy, but nothing worked. 

“Then one time, I got into the hospital and finally found the right medication that worked for me,” Alyssa said. She recalled how lucky she felt to find the right prescription for her mental illness, a luxury that many struggle with for years.  

“I started to feel better, and stable. I started to think positively, that I could find work again. I started a new career in nonprofit development, and I worked on myself. I went to therapy and support groups. I started my own charity, and I started writing and publishing books. But I was still all over the place, and felt I could achieve more,” she continued.  

Alyssa found Fresh Start in 2018 and decided it was the perfect fit for her. Since she had dealt with a lot of loss, she signed up for the mentorship program to learn how to move forward in a healthy manner. During her past manic episodes, Alyssa had spent large amounts of money; she recalled the times she bought a sailboat, a luxury car, and gave $500 tips to taxi drivers, all without knowing what she was doing. Her purchases put her in debt that she needed to address.  

“My goals were to pay off all my debt,” Alyssa says. “I was very heavily into debt, but thanks to working with my mentor, I paid off all my debt, and I bought a house!” 

Alyssa not only improved her finances, but her career as well.  

“My mentor helped me to be happy with what I have, but also to find ways to advance my career,” Alyssa explained. “She told me that if I don’t ask for it, I’m not going to get it. So, I started to tell them, ‘I’d like to do this,’ or ‘I’d like to do that.’ And I did, and I’ve achieved a lot.” 

Today, the future is bright for Alyssa, and she has higher goals than ever before. At the same time, she is still happy with her life the way it is now.  

“I’m proof-positive that people can live successfully and happily with a mental illness,” Alyssa said proudly. 

Alyssa is an inspiring example of a woman who went from surviving to thriving. She is the heroine of her own story. With the support of Fresh Start, even sky-high goals are possible to attain with work and perseverance. Like Alyssa, we can all learn to be content with what we currently have while striving to achieve our dreams.