I love butterflies! Not just for their delicate nature or their beautiful colors but because they represent transformation! They start out as a green, fuzzy caterpillar and over a period of time, they finally BUST out of their cocoon as a beautiful new creature!

I started going to Austin Clubhouse 3 years ago. I was like that green, fuzzy caterpillar. I was shy, quiet and scared to do anything. I kept going back though only once or twice a week for just a couple of hours. After about 1½ years I started volunteering every day for 4 to 5 hrs a day. I participated in the Work-Ordered Day, gained self-esteem, confidence and discovered new skills I didn’t even know I had. In other words, I came out of my cocoon and emerged a new creature. I became employable again!

Then BOOM, a few weeks before the Covid-19 virus hit us, I had a breakdown at the Clubhouse due to sleep deprivation. A week later, I got a pinched nerve in my hip that felt like a butcher knife in my hip. I was in bad shape mentally and physically for a couple of months. I felt like a failure. I was walking with a cane and was depressed. I no longer felt like a success story for what Austin Clubhouse can do for people. I went back to thinking I could never be employable again.

I was in such a bad state of mind for the first 2 months of the shutdown due to Covid-19 that I couldn’t care about the Clubhouse. I was shocked that I could feel that way since I often used to say “the Austin Clubhouse is my life”.

I finally got some much needed sleep and SOMEHOW the pinched nerve got unpinched. I am now out of pain and have begun to be active in the Work-Ordered Day again – virtually of course. Because the Clubhouse is physically closed, I miss being able to go there every day – a lot. However, the staff and members have continued business as usual with several projects to sign up for and participate in.

The Clubhouse has become my lifeline again. I feel like that butterfly. I have become a new creature again. I hate to think what kind of shape I would be in if I wasn’t able to stay connected to the Clubhouse and to virtually see and talk to staff and members, ESPECIALLY since the virus has all of us stuck in our homes – for now!

-Diane

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