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Sarah's Story

Updated: Feb 29

My name is Sarah, and I am 35 years old. My journey began in October of 2019 after I attempted suicide by overdose due to uncontrolled severe bipolar 1 disorder and undiagnosed borderline personality disorder at that time. I was sent to a treatment facility where I was held there for 3 weeks. It felt like I was in jail and all I could think about were my children and how I could have done this to them and how I could do things to change my life around to be a better mother. My eldest child was in a long-term inpatient facility center called CLIP at the Western State Hospital at this time. After my overdose, I lost everything, my job, my home, and my kids. Everything I owned was either packed up in my friend’s garage or stuffed in bags in my car. I ended up sleeping on my dad’s couch while I was in recovery until my eldest child, Gabe, was discharged from CLIP on March 3rd of 2020. Prior to that, I had to sleep in my vehicle to secure a housing navigator in the middle of winter because I had no other choice. No other options. No other help. That is when I met Sandy who then introduced me to Kateri (Housing Hope Family Support Coach) a few weeks later. Gabe was discharged to me, and we were homeless. We stayed at a friend’s house for 2 weeks until a spot opened at Windermere Crossing. I began bringing my 3 other children for overnight visits at my friend’s house.

After Kateri gave me my keys, we were ecstatic to finally have a “home.” I now had a place where I could house my other children. Their father and I agreed to a 50/50 split visitation. I had them half the week and he had them the other half. The apartment we had was much like a studio with two beds. Gabe and Noah slept on the big bed, Maya slept on the trundle bed, and I would inflate and deflate an air mattress daily and sleep on it with Graham.

It was not until September 2020 that we got our keys to a larger apartment and all the kids were excited, including me. We finally had our own home. I moved everything myself with the help of one friend who was also staying at the shelter. I put all the beds together and organized everything and it was worth it. My kids had ample space to do distance learning without interference from one another, and I could help each one of them and keep Graham occupied since we now had so much space.

Then the kids went back to in-person school, and I realized I had an abundance of time on my hands. I had a weekend job but nothing to do during the week and I was bored. I knew I wanted to go back to school but was not sure for what. I started doing all the neighbor girls’ hair, which I’d also done at the shelter, and had several people ask me why I hadn’t gone to school to do hair. I finally asked myself why I had not gone to school for hair. So, I reached out to Gene Juarez Academy and went on a tour. I loved it so much that I filled out an application that day and went home and filled out my FAFSA (Financial Aide). Little did I know how demanding the work was going to be.

A grueling 1600 hours, 13 months of driving from Everett to Federal Way, because they closed the north campus two weeks before I was supposed to start. My kids kept me going. Thinking about our future and wanting to give them my best, kept me going. I never missed a day, and I would do it all over again if I had to. Now I am a Gene Juarez Graduate with honors. I was a student ambassador. I am about to take my state boards and get licensed. The future is looking bright. It’s a stark contrast to what I thought my future looked like almost 4 years ago. I never would have thought I’d be where I am, but here I am. I tell everyone, it’s not about how hard you fall, it’s about how hard you bounce back and I bounced back as hard as I could, not only for myself but for my children. They do not deserve the broken version of myself so, I chose to heal.


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