How Clubhouses fight the stigma of mental illness [eng]

Merci à Charly pour ce témoignage écrit pendant son passage à Club Itaca Milano !

munchen« My name is Charly and I’m a member of Clubhaus München Giesing since 1999.
Clubhouse has always been a training place for me. A training place for « normal life » outside the Clubhouse, in the midst of society.

I never have experienced a community like a Clubhouse community where you are always welcome and respected as you are.
I go to the Clubhouse to work. That is, what every « normal » person does, too. One of the most important Clubhouse standards is the voluntarily nature. Clubhouse relies always on the talents and abilities of its members. That means, that there is not pressure on what I’m working. I choose my work according my daily condition. I’m never forced to do anything I’m not ready to do. For this reason there is no real failure that stresses me.
My friends and family know, that my Clubhouse work is to compare with every other person’s job and that I’m good in what I’m doing.
In the Clubhouse I’ve learned to care about myself. To know my limits and to accept them and show them to other persons. That is what every person without mental health problems does, too.

My friends and my family respect me for what I am. They do not treat me in a special way, like “Look the poor Charly, she is ill and we have to care for her.” They know that I have learned to take care of myself and that I am a friend like any other friends of them.
Clubhouse helps to discover who I am. Where my strengths are and how to use it in my life outside of it. I have regained self-worth, purpose and confidence. Clubhouse members who have self-worth, purpose and confidence behave like “normal” persons.
In Clubhouse I have always been treated with respect and dignity. So I have learned to be regardful in contact with others, to think about what and how I am acting. This should be aimed by everyone, regardless if she/he has a story of mental illness or not.

Clubhouse showed me, that I am not my illness. It is a part of my identity, but there are much more other parts which are strong enough to resolve it and to recover.
n the meantime I have built up a life outside the Clubhouse, too. Last October 10th, I held a speech right in the city of Munich, speaking about my life, where I do not experience any kind of stigma.
I’m giving lessons on how to make a video, caring for a 83 years old lady, have a band to play music… I am living a life in the midst of society.
Attending a Clubhouse for me is the best way to fight the stigma, as you proof that people living with mental illness are not that kind one should separate from. »

Charly Kahl-Gortan

Milan, March 2016

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