One thing Sarah Chandler projects is strength. This strength comes from the challenge of facing mental illness and learning to love oneself. Many people with bipolar disorder struggle with self-esteem, battling mood swings ranging from deep depression to elated highs. Since coming to Interim, Sarah has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Before being diagnosed, Sarah attributed her highs and lows to being artistic, eccentric and temperamental. “It allowed me to not feel shameful about being different.”
Her perspective on herself has changed since being diagnosed. She still sees herself as artistic, but now understands her highs and lows in the context of her medical condition.
Sarah came to Interim through MCHOME, a homeless outreach and housing program, operated by Interim. “MCHOME saved me from my days of being homeless… I have a team of people that help me. This team really loves what they do and I can feel it… It shows me a kind of ‘universal love’ and it pulls me up out of the self-hatred of what my predicament put me in.”
Since then, Sarah has also been through Interim’s Bridge House program, to address her substance use, and has been sober for over a year now. During that time, she wrote a self-help book, as well as her life story. She has learned to love herself. Sarah is currently living in Interim’s transitional housing and hopes to write another book about her experiences. “I don’t think any of us comes from a perfect situation… Life is about learning how to manifest yourself to the best of your ability.”
Sarah, by her own account, lived a privileged life, surrounded by people with Learjets and yachts. She is a trained jazz singer, has modeled, and was a dancer. Before becoming homeless she had a good job and a good life. “I had an elitist attitude.” Ultimately, a troubled romantic relationship led to multiple bouts of homelessness, and she never seemed to break the cycle after that. Despite her challenges, Sarah looks back with gratitude for her experiences. “Being homeless was the greatest experience of my life because it really humbled me. It showed me how slippery life can be based on the choices that you make.”
Now, her priorities have changed, and she has a mission to help people liberate themselves from whatever it is they are bound to, be it drug addiction or mental illness. She looks for opportunities to volunteer and inspire growth within people.
“I’m very thankful to Interim. They say that the teacher comes when the student is ready. I was very fortunate.”