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  • Theresa Flynn Gasman

Jake's Story

Jake came to the Hartman House after he suffered a stroke while trying to take his own life.


Jake started drinking and smoking pot at the age of 12.  His cousins introduced him to the substances. His mom was a single parent who struggled with alcoholism.  He and his mom and brother moved around a lot when he was young.  He didn’t have much accountability growing up, as his mother would let him skip school repeatedly. Jake says he mostly raised himself.  He dropped out of school after 8th grade, and by the time he was 15 years old he was living on his own in Oregon and working in the logging business. 


At the age of 22, he met and married a woman 5 years older than himself.  She was a widow and had 2 young children.  They moved to Redding, and he worked as a tree trimmer.  They had a home, $10,000 in the bank and two more children and life was relatively stable for about a year and half. Jake’s string of DUIs, however, eventually landed him in prison for 15 months.  As a result, he became estranged from his children while his wife’s drug and alcohol use spiraled out of control. He recalls thinking then that he needed to grow up, to man-up, but he couldn’t pull his life together and get on even footing. 


After he left prison, he returned to drinking and using, often being arrested for public intoxication, driving under the influence and with a suspended license and failure to appear in court. As a result, his 20s and 30s and part of his 40s were spent in and out of prison.  When he was released, he had no family to take him in and he would end up homeless.  He has stayed at the Good News Rescue Mission on multiple occasions and attempted to complete their program several times.


Jake says depression and substance abuse runs in his family.  In 2010, his brother took his own life and two years later his mother died after drinking antifreeze and leaving him a note. Jake struggled with his own dark thoughts and a foreboding sense that he was inevitably on the same path as his mother and brother. He has an impulsive nature and he worried that it wouldn’t take much to push him over the edge in one of his low moments. Earlier this year, after leaving the Mission, he got a hold of a pint of antifreeze, got a motel room and drank the liquid, intending to die. Instead, he was arrested, taken to jail and over 18 hours became unresponsive and was taken to the hospital, where he was put on life support.  While the jail staff assumed he had overdosed, it was determined that he had suffered a stroke.  Jake does not remember any of what happened after he ingested the antifreeze. He regained awareness when his children came to his bedside in the hospital, crying and imploring him to just squeeze their hands.  He recognized their voices and was able to respond with a hand squeeze, although he couldn’t see them.  His own tears flowed as he remembered attempting to end his life and he welled up with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God that he was given the chance to live.  He asserts that in that moment, his depression left him and instead of a sense of impending doom, he now feels hope.


After two months in the hospital, Jake was discharged and went to the Good News Rescue Mission.  Dr. Patton, of the HOPE Medical Team, immediately arranged for a cab to take Jake to the Hartman House.  He entered the HOPE Medical Respite Program and is slowly recovering from the stroke that initially paralyzed his right side.  He can walk now and take care of himself, however he is still working on regaining use of his right arm and improving his speech.  He recalled arriving at Hartman House and crying tears of gratitude while taking a hot shower. He feels so fortunate to be able to be in the Medical Respite program where he is provided with the things he needs to heal, including cooked meals and kindness from the staff.  Early on in his stay, his case manager arranged for a cab to take him to pick up his prescriptions.  Now that he is more mobile and independent, he takes the bus.  He has appointments onsite with a speech therapist and physical therapist three times per week. He has applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and expects to begin receiving disability benefits by July. He is attending mandatory court appearances to clear up issues and intends to get his driver’s license in the near future. Within a few months, he hopes to be able to secure housing, as he is on the HUD Section 8 waitlist.  He looks forward to making a budget and sticking to it.  His long-term goal is to be able to climb trees again for work.


If Jake were to give advice to a friend that finds themselves in a similar situation, depressed and despairing of ever having a reason to live, he would tell them “Give it one more day. Reach out to God, and if you mean business, He will help you out.”  Jake says his mindset has shifted from that of a hopeless outlaw prior to being in the Medical Respite program to one of hope, gratitude and ownership of his responsibilities to others, community and himself.  Just two weeks ago, Jake was able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding while the sun shone down on both of them on the edge of an orchard.  After years of living in a state of intoxication, Jake now says that “the real fun is being here, being present to life.” 


“Give it one more day. Reach out to God, and if you mean business, He will help you out.” - Jake

 

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2 comentarios

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Invitado
10 jul
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

Moving story!

Me gusta

Invitado
10 jul
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

Good Job Jake, it's a long road from where you have been and where you are to self sufficiency. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and go through all the doors of opportunity God has placed before and you, and you will get there.

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