Spotlight

Brett Chanin

 

It was either an early midlife crisis or a late quarter-life crisis.

Brett Chanin, then 31 and living in Oregon, was homeless, in and out of psych wards, and couldn’t hold a job. He was living with schizophrenia, which went undiagnosed for many years and for which he couldn’t always afford his medication. He was addicted to heroin, crystal meth, benzos – the works. And “I had tried to push my family away; I wanted to cut them off before they could cut me off,” Brett says. “I figured I had to deal with my life by myself. I had a very hard time with this, to put it mildly.”

Finally, the chaos became unbearable. Brett contacted Oregon state-run treatment centers for help, but they would not take him on because of his dual diagnosis. He learned of Beit T’Shuvah from his father and got in his car. He arrived here December 5 and hasn’t left. “When I got here, there were still drugs in my body and not everyone wanted me to stay; they thought I was too unstable. But I didn’t want to leave, and others intervened, and here I am,” Brett says. “The first couple of weeks were rough, but things got easier. As I started to feel better and my head got clearer, I started to take care of myself for the first time in a very long time.”

Early on, Brett began visiting the gym. He signed up for yoga with Amy Green, reported to be grueling (he now frequents a commercial yoga studio). He also participated in all of BTS’s extra offerings in order to stay busy. Brett says that the exercise, in particular, has been invaluable to his recovery. And he’s lost 60 pounds, to boot.

Perhaps most crucial are the friends Brett has made in the past 8 months with sobriety and exercise. First, he has made peace with the voices in his head. “We now have a friendly relationship, not a tormenting one,” Brett explains. “Also, my headaches, hallucinations and delusions have stopped.” Second, Brett has made friends with a number of residents who share his interests. “I used to run the Culver City steps, cycle and do yoga by myself. I now have a tight-knit group of friends who enjoy the same things.”

And Brett is finally coming to trust himself, regaining confidence and reliability. “Before I came to Beit T’Shuvah, I couldn’t hold a job; I couldn’t show up for things. I had no hope that things would change.” Now, Brett views his future very differently. “I trust myself, finally. I can show up for life. I have hopes and ambition.” Currently, he is attending school to prepare him to get a real estate license.

In short, says Brett, “Beit T’Shuvah has changed – and saved – my life.”