Dan rebuilds his life
When you meet Dan, you can’t help but crack a smile. He’s bright, talkative and always willing to share a laugh. It’s difficult to believe that only a short time ago Dan lived in virtual isolation, unable to speak with anyone or even go to a shopping mall without experiencing crippling anxiety.
The sudden death of his wife turned Dan’s world upside down. It was the first major loss he had suffered, and he was not equipped to handle it. Severe depression and generalized anxiety meant that he was unable to hold a job and care for himself. Then he developed an addiction to gambling. Dan had lost everything: his money, his self-worth and now his addiction had alienated his friends.
It is one of life’s cruelest paradoxes that those in need of the most help are often those least capable of asking for it. At Causeway, this is something witnessed every day.
Dan’s psychiatrist referred him to Causeway. He spent six months walking around the outside of the Causeway building, unable to come inside. When he finally did, Causeway welcomed him. He took computer literacy training, though it was some time before he was able to let the support staff within three feet of him without succumbing to panic attacks.
Soon after coming to Causeway, Dan was hired on as cleaning staff. Four months into his new position, he was still struggling to find his way back to himself. He wasn’t sure if the job would work out, if he could stay on the right track, or if life would throw him another curveball.
One day, he was walking to Causeway and saw a wallet on the ground. Upon opening it, he discovered that it was filled with cash. Prior to his wife’s death, he would never have even considered the possibility of taking the money for himself. But, for someone so steeped in self-doubt and struggling to stay away from the one thing that gave him temporary relief — gambling — the wallet was a great temptation.
“This is a test,” he thought. “This is where I decide what kind of person I’m going to be.”
He brought the wallet to Lise, Causeway’s assistant administrator.
“Take it away,” he said. “Try to contact the woman who lost it.”
Lise got in touch with the woman, who was very grateful to Dan for returning it.
If this was a test, Dan passed with flying colours. It was that day that was the real turning point for him. With his simple act of kindness, he had decided that he had self-worth.
“Everyone was telling me how proud they were of me,” he says. “But I kept telling them that pride should have nothing to do with it. I just did the right thing. What anyone should do in that situation.”
Dan worked at Causeway for five years. Frequently after his shifts, he volunteered at the Causeway Foundation office, helping to track holiday card inventory and doing other tasks.
“I want to help,” he says. “Causeway has given me so much. I just want to give a little back.”
Causeway staff have seen Dan come out of his shell. “A little too much, they tell me,” he says with a smile.
He has come a long way, socially, making a number of friends over the years. He has also engaged in numerous programs at Causeway, including the community kitchen, where he learned to cook healthy meals on a budget, and a financial literacy course, where he learned how to manage his money. Dan is now retired and spends his free time volunteering at Causeway.