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Dec 24, 2012 12:37 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Tucsonans recovering from mental illnesses write their own label

TUCSON- "To me peace is in the garden. There is nothing nicer than a quiet morning at home, sitting with my coffee and smokes."

They're words written by Lani Halbert-Faraj, a mother who fell into a deep depression after a difficult divorce. "I was isolating myself at home," Faraj says. "I was having depression and I was just doing my household chores."

A friend suggested she go to "Our Place Clubhouse". It's an organization that helps people recovering from mental illnesses. "I wasn't sure if it would be the right thing, but I went ahead and took a chance and joined," Faraj says.

She's now part of a writer's group there that meets once a week. "It's good to get things out on paper," Faraj says.

The group is made up of about a dozen writers. Right now they're working on a book that contains stories about their everyday lives.

They're led by "Our Place Clubhouse" board member and local writer, Sheila Wilensky. "The idea is to let the community know that the people who come here have days like everybody else," Wilensky says.

The writers hope to one day get their book published, which Wilensky says is more important than ever in the wake of recent mass shootings. "Obviously people who commit a mass murder like that are seriously struggling with some sort of mental illness," Wilensky says.

But she says if a person gets treated it can make all the difference.

Nobody knows that better than Faraj. "I would say it's made a world of a difference in my life," Faraj says.

She hopes writing her story will convince others to stop hiding behind the stigma and get help.

Our Place Clubhouse serves about 60 people a day, helping them find jobs and activities to get involved in.

For more information, head to: www.opclubhouse.org/

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