My name is David Eugene Harper II, but call me Dave. I was born on June 16th, 1970, in Paola Ks., during a tornado warning, (If that gives you a hint of my life until now. I wish I could say that all the turbulence that I’ve experienced in my life has been other people’s fault, unfortunately I can’t do that. At least 3 quarters of my life’s instability, was because of INSANELY stupid decisions, that were the cause of self-will run riot, but I’ll get to that later. My childhood was anything but normal. Two of my first memories, #1; Sitting at a coffee table, (I think at my mother’s place with her boyfriend, Mark, looking at a mountain of Cocaine, at least 6 to 8 inches high, and maybe a foot around. My second memory was being awakened in the middle of the night, by my mother screaming because her boyfriend, Mark was beating her. I was sleeping in the bedroom, of a three bedroom trailer, on one end, with my door closed, and they were in the master bedroom on the other end of the trailer with their door shut, and I can remember hearing the impact of each, and every blow. Needless to say, my dad gained custody of me, I think at about four years old. My dad had married a woman named Carol. My first memories of her were images, and feelings really. Vision of a beautiful, and sweet loving woman, with gorgeous long, blond hair. I vaguely remember her being very understanding, and safe to me. After I came to live with them, she cut her hair VERY short, and became an extremely vindictive, vengeful, and abusive person this made me very uneasy, and very resentful, not to mention extremely afraid of women who wear their hair very short, this caused me not to trust short haired women, which I have yet to disassociate her, from other women. I began to live a horrid life of unimaginable abuse, which would last for more than ten years. My dad never really new, as she rarely used the extreme measures while he was home, and the abuse he did witness, he did nothing about. These two things left me believing that I was worth nothing more than negative things. By the time I started school, I was already a very traumatized kid, and the only way I could express the things that I had gone through was by acting out, a lot. I was every teacher’s worst nightmare. I was very disruptive in class, never did my school work, in, or out of class, I didn’t get along with any of my class mates, and because of how differently I acted, I endured a great deal of bullying, and humiliating treatment, that several times, looking back I think I created. I have wondered if all this had happened now, if a school teacher, or some school counselor would have seen the symptoms, and would have at least approached me, to ask about it, or would have suspected some sort of trauma, or abuse, but they didn’t really consider that in the seventies. Abuse, whether it be physical, emotional, or even sexual, were just not discussed, or thought of, as a possible reason for my constant attempts for attention. When my dad, and step mom were informed about my actions; attention seeking, poor grades, constant disruptions and inability to play well with other class mates, they, (dad, and step mom), would whip me with the belt, humiliate, ridicule, and finally ground me, no T.V., and no playing with friends, sometimes for a few weeks at a time. I was only to leave the confines of my room for school, or meals. After many, many of these groundings, I learned to detest being alone. To this day, I will do almost anything to avoid being alone, unless I’m depressed, or frustrated, then I developed the coping skill of isolation. As I learned that isolation meant no abuse of any kind, from any one, I began doing it every day. By the time I was 13, two things began two happen. First, I began skipping days, and weeks of school, (despite my dad, and step mom’s constant tirades, to force me to go), and second, I was in the very beginning stages of what was, much later to be diagnosed with manic-depression. At the time all this was mixing, I started the seventh grade, and was given the opportunity to pick some of my own classes. I thought very hard about this, and picked a couple classes I thought I would like; 2, and 4 stroke mechanics, a wood craft class, and choir. Something amazing happened, I found out, at 13 years old, that I could sing…WELL. I finally found something that I was actually good at. When my dad, and step mom saw this, they absolutely forbid it. What they didn’t know was the inspiration this gave me, in that, to have an “elective” or non required class, the student choosing a choir, or drama class needed to have at least a “c” average. Something I had never acquired. If memory serves, I had never made anything higher than a “D” average in my whole scholastic career until then. When the first quarter grades came out, it, (the grade card), said that I had achieved a high “c” average. My dad, and step mom rescinded their objections to my choice of classes. My VERY first victory.
The pain inside me used to eat me from the inside out, as if boiling water
Scorched my skin to third-degree burns. Breathing was difficult. Eating was
Impossible. Sleeping was something I could not do. I was out of my mind and
Couldn’t even recognize my own parents. I thought they were evil spirits
My ups and downs resulted in me staying home all day watching
Marathons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson Creek and One Tree Hill. I
Got lost in a world where everything wasn’t hurting, I also lost track of time
And hated my life so badly I tried to kill myself again.
At the time, I wasn’t happy I survived the doctor pumping my stomach and
Recharging my heart. I believed they had wasted their time.
Although, as I saw the pain and worry in my parents and sisters eyes a
Part of me knew they needed me in this world so I had to learn how to survive
I started Alliance House in 2011. I recognized the pain disappearing slowly
As I was put to work both in a transitional employment and at the clubhouse.
My transitional employment was with Camp Bow Wow, working with dogs. I
Liked it and enjoyed being able to bring my service dog to play with other
Small animals like her.
The biggest show came when something else started happening. I thought
I was sick. I went to my therapist to see what was wrong with me. When I
Described my symptoms of calmness, a bubbling inside and the need to sing,
Write and dance again, I thought I was going through another maniac state,
But my therapist asked me other questions.
My answers were I was sleeping again, dreaming again and the
Urge to eat again. Instead of staying in bed all day, I jumped out of bed to go
See my new friends at the clubhouse, go to work and finally got my life back.
She said I wasn’t experiencing mania, I was feeling happy, something that
Had become foreign to me over time since being diagnosed at the age of
Twenty. Hospital stays became non-existent and I haven’t tried to hurt my myself
Since then, I had a successful job for two years as a peer specialist where
I could in turn help others deal with their mental illness, published two novels
Starting in 2012, graduated college with a bachelor’s degree and currently
working on a third novel with a writing coach and a New York City literary
agent. If I ever make real money, I would donate to the Alliance House
because they are one of the main reasons the days are lighter, that I am
writing again and that I not only love myself but have the ability to help and
WHEN I ARRIVED AT ALLIANCE HOUSE, I ONLY HAD ONE THING IN MIND AND THAT WAS TO RE-ESTABLISH MYSELF IN THE WORKFORCE. I WAS A RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATE AND VALEDICTORIAN BUT HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO CAPITALIZE ON THE SUCCESS. MY JOB RECORD WAS PRETTY MUCH DONE FOR AND MY GOAL WHEN ARRIVING WAS TO STABILIZE THAT. PSYCHOLOGICAL CIRCUMSTANCES HAD HELD ME BACK AND I HAD NO IDEA HOW TO GET PAST THAT.
HOWEVER, I GOT WORD THAT ALLIANCE HOUSE HAD A TRANSITIONAL EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM AND FIGURED I WOULD GAMBLE WITH MY LUCK ON HOW THIS WOULD TURN OUT. THE FIRST YEAR WAS SLOW SINCE I COULD NOT COME CONSISTENTLY, BUT AFTER WORKING OUT A FEW KINKS I STARTED TO ENGAGE IN THE WORK ORDERED DAY. THEN CAME THE FIRST MAJOR STONE IN THE POWERHOUSE, I GOT MY FIRST OPPORTUNITY AS A JANITOR AT VALLEY SERVICES (NEE ADVANTAGE SERVICES). THE CONFIDENCE GREW DAY BY DAY AND I WAS FEELING CELEBRATED NOT ONLY AT WORK BUT AT THE CLUBHOUSE AS WELL. MY LIVING SITUATION ALSO IMPROVED AS WELL SHORTLY AFTER. I MANAGED TO GET HOUSING THROUGH THE CLUBHOUSE AS I MOVED INTO THEIR HOUSING UNITS AT 1805 SOUTH MAIN STREET. AFTER TIMES AT VALLEY SERVICES ENDED, MY NEXT TRANSITIONAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY WAS AT HORIZONTE INSTRUCTION AND TRAINING CENTER. THE NEXT FEW STONES OF CONFIDENCE CONTINUED AS I LOVED WORKING AT THAT JOB. AFTER HORIZONTE ENDED, ANOTHER GAP OCCURRED AND THEN I ACCEPTED A NEW TRANSITIONAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY ON THE GROUP PLACEMENT JOB AT THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH. I WENT THE DISTANCE AT THAT JOB AND WHAT FOLLOWED WAS THE ONE THING THAT WOULD ALL MAKE MY GOAL COMPLETE. I STARTED ANOTHER TRANSITIONAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY AT SQUATTER’S PUB AND BEERS AND IN THE END, THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL WAS APPROACHING. I GOT HIRED ON PERMANENTLY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH AND GOT STABLE HOUSING BY TRANSITIONING FROM 1805 TO VALLEY VILLA. THE POWERHOUSE WAS FULLY BUILT AND THE DREAM WAS DONE.
NOW IN THE PRESENT DAY, I STILL LIVE AT VALLEY VILLA AND STILL WORK AT THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH. I COME PRETTY REGULARLY HERE AT THE CLUBHOUSE. WITHOUT A DOUBT I HAVE BONA FIDE THE BEST SUPPORT GROUP I HAVE EVER BEEN AROUND…EVER. I LOVE BEING WHO I AM AND THAT PSYCHOLOGICAL CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD NEVER SLOW YOU DOWN, IT SHOULD BE THE DRIVE TO SUCCEED THAT SHOULD SPEED YOU UP. ALL STAFF AND MEMBERS LOVE WHAT I HAVE BECOME AND I HOPE TO BE COMING AROUND HERE AT THE CLUBHOUSE FOR MANY YEARS TO COME.
WRITTEN, PRODUCED, AND DIRECTED BY CHUCK ENRIQUEZ
‘SO HOLD BACK THE FIRE, BECAUSE THIS MUCH IS TRUE.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, THE ENDING WILL COME.
FROM OUT OF THE BLUE.’
- FROM ‘OUT OF THE BLUE’ BY DAVID GILMOUR
I was introduced to the Alliance House, by the University of Utah Hospital, 5 West Psychiatric Ward. I was admitted on the 27th of September, in 2016. I admitted myself, due to complications from alcohol dependency and my issues of harming myself.
My issues with alcohol haunted me for quite some time. I started drinking in my twenties. At that time, it was used to relax me and gave me the courage to be outgoing. During my childhood, I was usually a shy kid and I had issues with self-confidence and low self-esteem. I grew up in a military household, so I was expected to excel in school and sports. I excelled in football and gained a scholarship to play at Dixie College. That is where my drinking started. I was young and living on my own for the first time. I continued drinking, socially, but I was able to function and excel at my career as an account receivables/credit analyst.
My drinking got out of control, back in 2010. This was during the great recession and the collapse of the housing market. I was laid off from my job, as a Credit Analyst, with Staker and Parson Companies. I was there for 6 years and I loved my job and the people there. I had trouble finding work that paid me the same as my last job. To make things worst, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and my father passed away, November of that year.
So, the combination of time on my hands and dealing with tragedy with my family, I went on a downward spiral. I started having panic/anxiety attacks and I used alcohol to control them. I tried numerous medications, i.e. Xanax, Prozac, etc. None of them worked, as well as alcohol did. Sometimes I would combine the drugs with alcohol. My drinking escalated from drinking beers to drinking 1 or 2 liters of vodka a day.
When I was able to obtain employment, my drinking still continued. Unfortunately, my anxiety/panic attacks did not stop, so I would drink at work. This caused me to lose jobs and good ones, as well. I started noticing withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, which I came to learn are called Delirium Tremens. Symptoms include uncontrollable shakes, nausea, difficulty with walking, confusion and possible seizures. To control those I would double my intake of alcohol. I’ve been to several detox facilities and rehabs.
This last episode, I was dealing with the loss of my brother and sister. Both died within a month apart, July and August. I relapsed after 7 months of sobriety. I came into the 5 West Psychiatric unit to detox from alcohol and to get help with my anxiety/depression issues. I was living on the streets for about a month. During my stay there, I was introduced to the Alliance House. I watched a video and I was impressed at what I saw. At the time, I was looking for housing and I was told that they helped out with that. After my discharge, I moved into a Sober Living facility.
During my stay at the Sober Living facility, I took my first tour of the Alliance House. I was introduced to the 3 units they have, which is the Business Unit, Culinary Unit, and the Career Development Unit. I enjoy all three of them. But most of all, I love the culture and environment. Even the staff is part of the community and there are no labels or stigmas. Everyone is great and everyone has their own stories and challenges.
MY EXPERIENCE AT CLUBHOUSE
I have been coming to clubhouse for about two years now. My introduction to Alliance House was through a friend who was already a member.
I came at first expecting there to be nothing to do except the old model of an adult drop off center. Boy was I ever wrong, much to my surprise. I found there was much to do, all of it was meaningful work not the usual adult make work of drop-in centers.
I have found much fulfillment: helping cook the meals; tutor students in math and science; or running and organizing the Clubhouse Closet. Each of these activities has taught me things about myself and how to get along with others I work with.
At clubhouse there is no distinction as to who has what diagnosis or disability. We all work side by side as equals. Some are talented in one area, some are talented in another; these are not barriers they are learning experiences. We take these opportunities to make friends, strengthen our own resolve; this happens between both staff and members.
I have found not only a sense of belonging here at clubhouse; I have also found in a degree a sense of family. I have gained people in my life I would have never met or been able to include in my circle of friends and family.
This is my story: By Erin Crawford
When I first heard about Alliance House, I told my parents that I did not want to go there, I was scared. They said to me, “go check it out” and “see what it all about”. So I went with them and they got me a tour at the Alliance house. I was scared for a few days, then I met some people they were just like me and I made some friends there. After a few months, I knew all about the Alliance House and now I have been here for 2 years and I love it. It helps me get out of bed and be with other people and do activities on Thursday and 2 times during the month on Saturday. Now I am the clubhouse rep and I help with donations. I also help in the kitchen, with shopping, and grocery lists. This is the best place I have been to.
My mom helped me all my life. She’s been there for me. I wanted to thank her.
- All through my childhood, I struggled with dark and lonely days. My depression left me in a downward spiral, leaving me with nothing but fear. Everything I did, see, and hear constantly scared me. With my PTSD I was stuck in the middle of a nightmare
- Locked up in my head, I was completely numb. Everything inside of me was dead with no feelings and no life, with no future, my home (shelter) was a dark echoing cave.
- I would hibernate by closing my eyes and curling up in a ball – from crippling flashbacks; this was going on every frightening hour.
- In my preteens I was introduced to drugs
- Unfortunately I slipped even further and got more stuck in my mental illness.
- Later on in the following months, I became caught up in theft and vandalism. I was feeling suicidal even started cutting. I trusted no one. Thinking everyone was out to hurt me.
- I was living with Mother at the time but because of my poor choices I could no longer live with her.
- I received emergency housing. Although I was grateful for a roof over my head I still struggled to pay bills and buy groceries. I didn’t have the skills to understand or keep a budget so I had to have my mother be my representative payee
- Thankfully, soon after getting emergency housing I was able to receive housing through HUD. I was able to move into the cozy apartment I have today.
- One day in 2007 a nurse at Valley Behavioral Health suggested I check out a place called Alliance House
- I went to orientation at Alliance House and that day I was able to open my eyes and ears a bit for the first time.
- I finally found hope – the kind of hope I only heard some people say, but never really felt. I came by the next day still a bit in my shell and a nervous wreck, for I hadn’t experienced this aspect of mental health services before. Through working with members and staff (even if for short periods of time), I started building confidence, self-esteem and friendships.
- Approximately six months later, I started to become comfortable with people and learned how to trust. With the support of members and staff – I have learned many new tools like:
- Sobriety and wellness
- Social and behavioral skills with the support of my Clubhouse community.
- I felt confident enough to try a transitional employment job in the community
- I worked with staff to find ways to improve my reading comprehension despite my learning disability
- I have been given peer leadership and mentoring opportunities through Alliance House
- And I even got a chance of a lifetime to attend a Clubhouse Conference in Hawaii
‘Alliance House not only can provide actual keys for housing which is the reason why many of us are here today but for me it has provided the keys I needed for my future.’
I have come from a well understanding of mental health awareness in my early youth; feather more in my early twenty. Around that time, was when I heard and started to come and attend to Alliance House which would be back in late year of 2010. I had enrolled with getting my high school diploma within a year & it was awesome, because a lot of staffs & members along the side work and team together to get things going smooth. After I graduated, Transitional Employment was offering me to Jones Waldo, which was a great offer, but at that time I didn’t think it would suit me good. A few months passed by, then the University of Utah Transitional Employment was offered to me. It was a great job, because most times I would be outdoors which indeed is lovely. It was the right match for me. By all that reasoning Alliance House given me a states of clarity of knowledge by being a social accommodation of volunteer work in the clubhouse, which as getting to understand by other similarity of the varsity of managing job skills in which/or getting schooling to qualified to reach goals of careers.
Thank you my dearest friends at Alliance House.
Minty G. (Michael Grant)
How are you doing my name is Dell Davis
My history starts on January 28, 1978 when I was born I was 7lbs 6 ounces I was a beautiful baby and but I had a rough life. I was the oldest of 5 siblings. At an early age it became clear that I had ADHD among other things. By the time I was 3 years old I was already getting in trouble at preschool and the state of Nevada wanted to take me away from my mom because it was difficult for her to take care of me and my brother and sister. My grandparents stepped in and took custody of me.
When I was 9 I moved with my grandparents from Nevada to Salt Lake city. I was put in the special education program at Rosewood Elementary, where I made a lot of friends.
I finished elementary and moved to west valley and went to Glendale Intermediate school. Kids made fun of me and teased me. So I started getting in lots of fights and getting in trouble. We moved again, in fact we moved 8 times from the age of 12-15. All of the moves made it hard for me to get anywhere with my education. I had to repeat a lot of grades. Granite School District agreed to allow me to stay enrolled in the Highland High school special education program regardless of where I lived.
By the time I was 23, I still hadn’t completed High school and I dropped out. I experienced more moves, homelessness and instability. I tried to go back to school at an adult education center. They would throw work at me and tell me to just do it. They didn’t give me any help or support. I dropped out again.
At 28 I got married and had a beautiful baby girl, Karin Lynn Davis. We moved to Arizona looking for a fresh start. Be both had mental illnesses and struggled. The state of Arizona intervened and took our daughter away from us. We were fighting a lot and I was in and out of jail. I eventually ended up in prison for 3.5 years. During that time we lost all rights to our daughter. After prison I moved back to Salt Lake and reconnected with my wife.
We were stable for about three years and then we lost our housing, she went to live with her mom and I was facing homelessness. I had been attending Alliance House and was able to get housing through them. I started the education program for about a year and have been working furiously for the last year trying to complete my education and finally get my high school diploma.
And here I am!
Throughout the years I have faced a lot of challenges and set-backs. Now I can actually say I finished something in my life. I am going to keep moving forward trying to better my life.
I thank Alliance House for getting me into housing and the chance to complete my education. I want to thank Terry, Loretta, Amber, Leif and Hayley and everyone else that has supported me at Alliance House.
I would also like to thank my in-laws for the support they have shown me and all the help they have given me throughout the years.
Congratulations to all of the graduates. Thank you all for coming and allowing me the opportunity to share my story.
Update: Dell is starting his first Alliance House Transitional Employment opportunity today!!! We wish him the best of luck and know he will do a great job:)
By, Fadumo “Fatima” Awad
I have been practicing meditation twice daily for about 6 months. I was having some hard times in my life and a friend suggested that I try meditation. Every morning when I wake up I meditate for about 20-30 minutes. I find a quiet spot in my house and turn on some of my favorite music. I have found that meditation helps me release all the bad stuff from my mind and my body. I feel less stressed and more relaxed. It helps me to have a more positive mind set and not worry so much. As a result, I am happier now than I was before. I have found that these benefits will often last throughout the day. At night right before I get ready for bed I meditate again for another 20-30 minutes. My sleep is more restful and I don’t have pains in my back like I used to. Incorporating meditation into my daily routine has been a healthy change that has made a huge difference in my life.