My name is Chimere Sherald and I am a member of Gateway. A former athlete, I played basketball at Spartanburg Methodist College and Limestone College. I have three college degrees; an Associates in Art from Spartanburg Methodist College, a Bachelors in Studio Art with a concentration of
Graphic design from Full Sail University, and a Masters in Media Design. I’ve worked as a high school women’s Basketball assistant coach and as a graphic designer for an indie music label where I designed album covers for music artists. I was always used to accomplishing something. Having goals and reaching every one of them. In September of 2005 my world became dark, confusing, and pointless in my eyes. Dealing with the death of a family member and a friend while having difficulty with employment, I was so far gone I didn’t realize I was depressed. I was hospitalized over twenty times. I lost my job and became homeless. All hope seemed lost. I was depressed and suicidal.
But then I discovered Gateway. And it changed everything. I’ve never experienced anything like Gateway. Gateway is uniquely different because at Gateway you are not treated as a number. You are seen as an individual, as a human being. You know you matter, and you are always wanted. There is no stigma at Gateway. There is caring and hope and dignity. At Gateway I am surrounded by unique, intelligent individuals, and our diagnoses doesn’t matter because our diagnosis doesn’t define who we are at Gateway.
It’s hard to describe Gateway adequately with words. Gateway is effective and transformative. Gateway helps members go back to school through education programs. Gateway also helps member with independent living and getting a job. Gateway removes barriers
The Clubhouse has given me purpose and a community. Through the Work-Ordered Day, Gateway has given me confidence to use my talents and has brought me out of my depressed shell. I have established amazing relationships with my Clubhouse family. We all encourage and push one another to grow, dream, and achieve. I think we give one another the love that we never received anywhere else. We all know what it’s like to be misunderstood because we deal with an invisible illness. Some people don’t have the tools to understand mental illness and what’s it like to deal with it. But I’m back to being social where I was isolated before. I am no longer homeless because Gateway has blessed me with my own apartment. I am also back in the workforce. I had the opportunity to return to work through a Gateway Transitional Employment job with Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery as a dishwasher and I loved it! Most of all, I now have hope and a reason to live. I also have some exciting news to share…now, through the help of Gateway, I am fulfilling my dreams of working in the graphic design field! This is my dream come true; getting to create, working with lots of different people and learning from different artists in my career field. And I have plans for my future…
So if you know anyone suffering or fighting a mental illness, don’t shun them away. Listen to them and hear them out. Sometimes that’s all it takes is for someone to just listen. You can also tell them to learn about Gateway.