Susan's Story

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Where did you grow up?
Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, and I moved to Minnesota in 2005 to try something different from SD. I worked in the community as a counselor, got a real estate license, etc. Most recently I moved back to MN in 2019.

Tell us a little bit about yourself? (Interests, hobbies, favorite food..)
I make jewelry (beadwork mostly), I like being out in nature, hanging out with my kids (11 & 8), and I love Chinese food.

Who/what inspires you?
Martin Luther King Jr. and people from my history like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse who never gave up on what they believed in. People who don’t change who they are because someone doesn’t agree with it.

What is something that makes you happy?
My kids, when I see them happy.

What brought you to the situation you’re currently in?
In the end of 2010, I started using meth. It became really really out of hand and ever since then, I’ve been trying to get myself clean. I started to experience things I had never experienced before like being homeless and not having a car or not having a job because my addiction was taking over everything. When I became in contact with ZACAH I was staying at Motel 6 with my daughters in Roseville, so I filled out the app online. They called me a couple hours later and transferred to the Hampton Inn. I was over there for about three months. Now I’m in an apartment since January.

What difficulties have you experienced in trying to get out of your situation?
People don’t really understand the whole picture of what my life is. I have some mental health diagnoses too, things like depression and anxiety that seem to have gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. And the expectations I feel that are put on me to get my life together, to just get it together. Sometimes I wasn’t in a position to do that. I needed wraparound services for myself to help me through each thing that I was struggling with.

A major one is that there isn’t any medication that has been prescribed to me that has helped. Waiting for any medication to take effect takes at least 4-6 weeks and in the meantime of trying all of these different medications, I’m still full of anxiety and suffering from other things that I get really upset about. I feel really not listened to by doctors because they don’t want to put me on anything addicting because they say I’m an addict, but then wouldn’t they rather have me on something that’s addicting than going out and doing something that could possibly kill me? But they still don’t want to hear it. Overall, it’s been getting the proper medication for me, that’s been the most difficult.

What’s your experience with ZACAH?
I just think that they’re amazing. They are so accepting. I was able to be completely honest about where I was in my life, that I was struggling with getting clean and staying clean. And they just came and embraced me. Once when I was freaking out because I wanted to get high, the security guard at the hotel would come up and talk to me, talk me through it or just sit with me. And so they’re not an organization that’s just out there to make money. They go that extra mile for you if you’re serious and you want help.

They also helped me get a car because when I left them, I had put a couple thousand into fixing my car but it was still horrible. They got me a car like a month ago and I got in contact with Yusra again to ask when I should start paying them back because I wanted to pay them back, but she said “You never have to pay it back.” and it made me cry. Because it was a $2,000 car and they just bought it for me, no strings attached, nothing. ZACAH deserves financial support more than anyone because they give back 150%.

They put me in a position during Christmas time to go and put stockings on everybody’s door and gave me money to go and buy the stuff for them. They entrusted me with stuff and it made me feel good because you know, as a drug addict, you’re not really trusted by a lot of people. But they did and it helped me feel better to do something for other people. It helped my daughter too to teach her the gift of generosity and doing things for others.


What do you want other people to know about you?
There’s more to me than just being an addict. I have been successful in my life in ways that society thinks of success, like having money, having a good job and owning a house and all that good stuff. There’s more to me than what I initially present.

What has been the most helpful thing that people have done for you?
When we moved in here and didn’t have anything but our clothes, blankets, and some important papers (because we left quickly from the abusive situation I was in), some strangers dropped stuff off for us, delivered groceries and new bedding. These are people that don’t know us and never expected anything in return. My belief in humanity came back. I was really thinking along the lines that the world is cold and everybody is cold, but it opened my eyes again that there are people out there who are good.

The world would be a better place with more _____.
Minorities in leadership. Presidency, vice-presidency. Any type of huge leadership role.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.