icon-cheveron-left Back

Christopher’s hope story: “The Bowery Mission built me back up”

icon-cheveron-left Back

After a season of profound trial, Christopher found redemption and healing within the Mission’s transformative community

Christopher went from having a family, a home and a good job to spending a month in a psychiatric ward. For years, he had a great job in radiology here in the city. He was in a committed relationship and the father of a young daughter.

But by late 2022, his life began spiraling downward. All his life he had struggled with the challenges of having epilepsy. Unfortunately, his symptoms got worse. He underwent brain surgery four times between 2017 and 2020.

Over time, his epileptic episodes, which were often accompanied by severe mood swings, began putting significant stress on his relationships at home and at work. “I was depressed,” Christopher says. “I was saying the craziest things, like, ‘I want to kill myself.’”

“I don’t know what came over me”

During this same time, Christopher got into a physical altercation with a coworker, resulting in his dismissal. Then, on Christmas Day 2022, a disagreement at home escalated into a second physical altercation.

Christopher still doesn’t understand why he did it. He had always been taught to treat people respectfully. “I don’t know what came over me — if it was the four brain surgeries for my epilepsy or the new medication I was taking for my mental health,” he says.

Not long after, he found himself in the hospital psychiatric ward. After some key changes to his medications, his mental fog began to clear and he received the unsettling news that a restraining order barred him from returning home. “I had nowhere to go,” he remembers.

Finding help & hope

After learning about Christopher’s situation, a social worker at the hospital referred him to the Men’s Residential Program at The Bowery Mission, knowing it would be the best fit for him.

Christopher arrived at our Residential Program for men feeling shattered. When he first began showing up for classes and chapel services, he was still struggling with an overwhelming sense of guilt and grief.

“I was beating myself up inside, going over what I did. I didn’t expect the outpouring of love I would receive.” — Christopher

Christopher found hope and support from staff

As he continued building connections with others in the program, something inside changed. “I would knock on staff members’ doors at random times, just to chat, and they welcomed that,” he says. “Just talking to people and having others around me helped. The Bowery Mission built me back up and gave me the strength I was missing.”

He fondly remembers nights spent watching “The Chosen” with other men in the program, and he frequently found himself resonating deeply with the chapel services. “The speakers’ words were powerful,” he says. “It was as much what they said as who they were and how they acted.”

Two months into his time in the program, Christopher was able to get back to work in radiology and begin saving toward getting his own apartment. He also regained hope by reconnecting with his uncle, father and a close family friend — three pillars of support since childhood.

A fresh, healthy start

By the summer of 2023, Christopher had graduated from the Residential Program and saved enough money to move into a place of his own. He keeps in touch with several staff members and with the many friends he made while in the program. He prioritizes taking good care of his health — including working out and eating a nutritious diet — and he is grateful that it’s been a full year since his last seizure.

Christopher smiling with hope at graduation

Today, Christopher feels he is truly a different man than the one who first came to The Bowery Mission. Perhaps the biggest difference is that he is better able to manage his emotions. Every now and then, a memory from his time at The Bowery Mission will come back to him to encourage him on his journey. “I’ll wake up at 5 a.m. and remember certain Bible verses or a point in a sermon that struck me,” he says.

In January, Christopher landed a new job in radiology much closer to his home. He finds joy in reconnecting with family, and one of the highlights of his day is FaceTiming with his two-year-old daughter on the phone. He also takes comfort in the progress he’s made. Christopher says, “Just the fact that I’m moving along and doing everything with a smile.”

Christopher quotes his favorite Bible passage, Psalm 23:4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” He explains, “It means to keep going. That no matter what happens, God is with me.”

You can help others find a fresh start and true hope

Your support helps give people like Christopher the opportunity to stand on their feet again and to flourish. Thank you for your compassion that makes the life-changing work of The Bowery Mission possible!