For Phoenix, it’s a matter of trust.
“I didn’t trust people, that was my thing before,” she said.
But at the Bert Nash Center, she has found people she can trust.
“Everyone I have worked with at Bert Nash has been trustworthy, they’ve been supportive, they’ve been understanding,” she said. “I trust the people at Bert Nash.”
Phoenix began her involvement with the Bert Nash Center in 2007.
Looking back, she wishes she had reached out earlier.
“I would have originally been a client of Bert Nash in 2001 during my first suicide attempt, but I didn’t want anything to do with mental health,” she said. “I could have a avoided a lot of terrible things that happened in between during those six years.”
Phoenix hurt herself in 2006 and was referred to Osawatomie State Hospital, where she spent six months. After her release, she began receiving services at the Bert Nash Center.
She’s been receiving services ever since.
“I’ve been in and out of therapy since a young age,” Phoenix said. “For the first time ever in my life I feel like there are people I can trust.”
Phoenix spent a year living at Transitions, the Bert Nash Center’s transitional supportive housing facility.
“I liked it,” she said. “There was always somebody to talk to.”
In March 2022, Phoenix moved into a unit at The Cottages, which is located next to Transitions and is part of the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County. The Cottages provides permanent supportive housing for individuals with serious persistent mental illness.
Phoenix enjoys having her own place where she can do her art. She has been doing art since the fourth grade.
“Ever since the teacher told me that I could draw a bunny better than her,” she said.
Phoenix tries to do something artistic almost every day, except those times when she starts to ruminate on it. Then she’ll take a break and come back to it when she’s ready. She mostly paints with acrylic and spray paint. She describes her style as cartoonish.
“Art can be therapeutic especially when you’re doing something you like, and it makes you happy,” said Phoenix, who gives aways most of the pieces she creates. “It doesn’t really cost me anything to do it and I love sharing my art. So, I just give it away for free.”
Phoenix is happy to have her own place, to create her art, and to let people know it’s OK to ask for help.
“It’s OK for people to reach out,” she said. “Whatever I can do to inspire and encourage other people, that’s what I want to do.”
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, seeking emotional support, or feeling suicidal, call or text 988 or call the Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ direct counseling line at 785-841-2345.