Spotlight Mental Health Awareness Month
A conversation with Joan Maydet and Michael Roth
Music brings us all together. And it was music and poetry that brought Joan and Mike together.
They met in 2019 and then during the height of COVID and have been with each other personally and artistically ever since. They live together in Long Island and are active participants in the Jawonio PROS program.
They both agree that their lives have truly been saved by Jawonio PROS (Personalized Recovery Oriented Services) clinicians, social workers and peer counselors. In their own words, here are Joan and Mike.
What were your first impressions of Mike?
JOAN: I always thought he was friendly and really nice. When I started in program I was very scared, and didn’t want to talk to anyone. He was the one person that would always come up to me and say hello and how are you. He always made me feel welcome. There was sort of an instant connection. I knew that he was going to have a very big role in changing my life.
How did the poetry and music begin?
MIKE: We started writing poetry together in Terry’s class, and we started combining our poetry and turned them into lyrics. I think our first song was a combination of two to three poems of Joan’s and and three poems of mine.
JOAN: We seem to write on the same topics, and we seem to write poetry in puzzle pieces that just fit together – I guess you could say we are on the same page.
Tell us about your journey?
JOAN: I have struggled with my mental health for my entire life. I suppose you could say I have been part of the mental health community since I was a child. I was exposed to a lot when I was young. I went through a very bad period of time. The people around me never offered any help. I didn’t know what was going on and I just spiraled and it got worse and worse. This is why my recovery at Jawonio means so much to me because I never knew I could have something like this.
MIKE:I was bullied in high school and that led to my depression. A few years later I had a substance abuse problem and quit but it was hard. And then I went to RCC and graduated, and things got better.
How did you find Jawonio?
MIKE: A friend of mine told me about the program and he thought it would be a good idea, and that I should check it out. The earliest memory I have is meeting Anthony. He became my advisor and he still is. He was into music so we really hit it off and I thought, this program is really cool and that it would be a good thing.
JOAN: I started a bunch of years after Mike. When I came into PROS, I felt like I was a lost cause and there was no way anyone could save me, and nothing I could do anymore. And the music reignited me. There were so many times where I got myself so depressed and felt that I just didn’t belong here. I would go to our PROS advisors and cry, and I said I wanted to drop band. However, thanks to the Jawonio staff, I didn’t quit because I really needed that for my recovery, and music was such an important part of my recovery to this day- it was a lifeline.
Joan Maydet and Michael Roth
What makes the Jawonio PROS Mental Health Program so special?
JOAN: I think PROS provides a community that you don’t have anywhere else. I feel like I can say anything I can be myself.
MIKE: The PROS staff makes you feel like your not alone and that’s the key.
It is mental health month, and there seems to still be a stigma around people with mental health challenges, what do you think we can do to reduce the stigma?
JOAN: When I was younger, no one talked about it, it was swept under the rug. Nowadays, I think it is so important to talk about, and that will help a lot, but we still have a really long way to go. I nearly lost my life to mental illness but if we use our voices, we can spread awareness of programs at Jawonio.
For those people struggling with their mental health, I know for a fact the PROS program saved my life. And if more people came here they would find a safe space for recovery too.
MIKE: Through Jawonio, my recovery has been through my music and photography and the staff always finds ways to bring out the best in us.
Mike and Joan have written a song called Healing, and you can find it on their website, and on YOUTUBE at noctiphany.bandcamp.com
JOAN: It is about coming out of the darkness and into the light, we wrote it together and we hope that people will hear it and it will make something positive for those with mental illness.
Before PROS, all I remember saying was I can’t live like this anymore, all I wanted to do was die, and then I had suicidal ideations. For Mike, a friend of his referred him to PROS. Jawonio PROS, and their mental health services not only saved my life but changed our lives together.
Thank you Joan and Mike for sharing your story and journey with us.
Thank you to our staff in our PROS Mental Health services program. If you would like to learn more, please email Jawonio at email@example.com