When Stephanie first came to Continuum of Care nine years ago she had such severe social anxiety that she wouldn’t leave her room. She would not speak to anyone. Transition seemed extraordinarily difficult for Stephanie and she had been overwhelmed since her move. Stephanie engaged in several behaviors that negatively impacted her life and ability to function on a daily basis. One of the most significant behaviors Stephanie engaged in, was refusing to eat. She would  refuse to eat and/or only eat one type of food for extended periods of time. She would go through periods of time that she would refuse to leave her room to eat. Due to how quickly Stephanie had decompensated in the past (requiring hospitalization and medical intervention) her team determined that she be guided to the table to eat her meals.

In addition to the external environmental stimuli that was overwhelming, Stephanie also responded to unknown internal feelings of discomfort that were expressed through her behavior. Stephanie had a history of displaying psychiatric decompensation through suicidal ideation which took the form of written and verbal expression. She would be aggressive, yell, attack others, throw objects, and on occasion engage in self-harm such as banging her head.

She was extremely sensitive to environmental changes including sound and visual changes. This extended to people around her. Stephanie required the support of her direct care staff to navigate her world and adjust external stimuli when necessary. She has benefited from a proactive and sensitive plan of learning to identify and actively use coping skills.

These days, Stephanie engages more with her peers. She eats dinner at the same time as her housemates and even makes up her grocery list. She likes to shop at beauty shops to stock up on lip glosses and perfumes. She is able to express herself more constructively, she laughs and sings and absolutely loves singing along on Karaoke nights. She gets out to the house to feed the ducks with staff. She has attended several company outings with her peers and even dreams of one day, when she is ready, making it inside a Hibachi restaurant! 

According to her Program Manager, Shuwan Gibson, “Stephanie likes to give people nicknames. Although it took a full year for her to come up with a nickname for me it was worth the wait. She gave me the name ‘Juniper’, shared Shuwan, “And when I asked her why she said ‘because Juniper helps me grow.”

Continuum of Care, Inc.’s mission is to enable people who are challenged with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, addiction, or homelessness to rebuild a meaningful life and thrive in the community.