Jimmys headshotWhen I started PROS over three years ago I was in a much different place than I am now. I was in and out of the hospital on three different occasions and was suffering from pseudo-seizures from all the stress that my mind was under due to my illness. I came out of the hospital homeless and penniless. I ended up in a shelter with around twenty other men, which wasn’t the ideal situation because of the nature of my symptoms but I didn’t have any other options.

I felt hopeless and didn’t have a clue where my life was headed. I was void of goals and felt as if l didn’t have a purpose. After coming out of the hospital for the third time in a few months I ended up in the Partial Program at Benedictine Hospital. At that point I had no idea what PROS is but my therapist at Partial suggested I go there and helped me sign up.

When I started PROS in March of 2018 I felt like I was lost and was looking for a direction to take my life. My coping strategies at the time weren’t what they needed to be and I was still fighting the emotions around my illness and suffered from suicidal ideation, which is what sent me to the hospital on those three occasions.

I started off by going to PROS five days a week because I believed having a place to go and structure in my life would bring about some relief. I would walk to and from Gateway no matter what the weather was like, all in an attempt to feel better. I took as many classes as I could, learning coping skills, how to set goals, I learned about C.B.T.*, and D.B.T.** After a few months it all started to make sense and in conjunction with moving into a new place of my own I slowly began to feel better.

I started to have hope for the future. Just having hope isn’t enough and you have to be willing to put a plan in action to meet your goals. That’s the hard part, setting goals is easy, having hope is easy, but the work you have to put in is difficult, especially for those of us who suffer from a mental illness.

I’ve traveled a great distance in my life since beginning PROS I’ve learned so much about myself and I truly believe you get back what you put into the program. If you’re willing to do the hard work and learn about yourself you will grow as a person. The skills I now have in my toolbox thanks to PROS are invaluable.

I’m currently in college and doing very well for myself despite the extra challenge of mental illness. A message I’d like to get to my fellow students in the program is even if you’re having a tough time right now you can put a plan in place to reach out for what you are hopeful to have in life. It may seem impossible at times, but your goals are achievable and everyone that works at PROS is there to support your personal growth.

I would also like to mention the latent effect of the friendships you gain from fellow students. I’ve made some friends that will be a part of my life for the entirety of my life. The support you get from fellow students is also important to your personal growth. I’ve felt nothing but support from my classmates and I hope sharing a part of my story will positively influence those that attend the classes at PROS.

I feel my future is bright and I’m doing what I want to be doing at this moment in life with an eye out for my future. Staying mindful of the present while having goals, to me, is a very important part of life in general. One day I will move on from PROS but what I’ve learned will never leave me.

UPDATE 5/2024 – Jimmy is now employed at Gateway Hudson Valley as one of our Senior Mobile Meals staff members, helping to feed Ulster County Seniors who are aging in place. Thank you, Jimmy!

*C.B.T. – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of psychotherapy. This form of therapy modifies thought patterns in order to change moods and behaviors. It’s based on the idea that negative actions or feelings are the result of current distorted beliefs or thoughts, not unconscious forces from the past.

**D.B.T. – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (talk therapy) that can help patients struggling with overwhelming emotions, which can lead to self-destructive behaviors and unstable relationships. It uses a psychological and social (psychosocial) approach, emphasizing collaboration, peer support and personal development.