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Second Chances—Chapter 2
Ryan Costales shares his story about how Mary's Village helped him seek support for his struggles with mental health
December 10, 2021
Ryan Costales’s story reminds us that the mistakes we make don’t define who we are, or who we will become.
His story begins with his family.
Ryan Costales is a shy, 29-year-old man, shy and observant. Ryan struggles with mental illness. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that causes dramatic mood swings. However, Ryan is not alone in the struggle. His mother and brother also have bipolar disorder, and his father experiences depression.
If there is anything about my story it’s that you need to be aware of mental health problems and you need to ask for help.” — Ryan Costales
If there is anything about my story it’s that you need to be aware of mental health problems and you need to ask for help.”
— Ryan Costales
Growing up, Ryan didn’t like school. He was always the odd man out, alienated because he didn’t fit in with the other kids. This resentment towards school continued into high school, when his bipolar episodes escalated with the sudden death of his mother, due to complications in surgery.
Because of his mother’s death, the silver lining for Ryan was that he grew closer to his siblings and father. He also became motivated to push through into college.
Even though Ryan resented school for most of his life, college is where he slowly began to find himself. It was ¨something I enjoyed, something I was good at.¨ Ryan attended Cal State San Bernardino. While there, he earned his bachelor’s degree in history. He also discovered a passion for teaching.
His life was finally on the right trajectory. He had found his calling. He had found success. He had found connection with family.
Then the pandemic struck.
During this time, he was not on the right medications, was experiencing more stress at work, and the requirement to quarantine made him feel more alone than ever. For Ryan, this skyrocketed his depression and caused his bipolar disorder to worsen. He began to experience paranoia.
Then he started hearing voices.
One day, those voices became too much for Ryan and told him to attack someone with a box cutter.
Because of this attack, he was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center before being transferred to West Valley Detention Center for 6 months. From there, he was referred to Mary´s Village on the account of the mental health diversion on his court order.
On May 24, 2021, Ryan arrived at Mary´s Village.
He knew being charged was a test. His dreams and plans to become a teacher were pushed back, and he began questioning his morality. Not only does Ryan need to complete 2 years at Mary´s Village on the account of his court order, but also feels the need to graduate in order to become a teacher. And he began to question his morality due to the crime he committed due to the voices driving him to his breaking point.
If I screw up, that’s on me.”
— Ryan Costales
This experience was also a test for Ryan because he has always been more on the reserved side. Being at Mary’s Village meant meeting men coming in and out of the home with whom he began creating friendships. Because of the nature of the facility, some of those relationships were short-lived, while others are still ongoing.
He assures that he “feels welcomed by everyone here.”
He has been able to open up and get along with the men. He even makes jokes and has fun forming bonds—something he never expected of himself.
For Ryan, having to open up with new people and get help is something he initially struggled with. At Mary’s Village, he was able to take anger management classes and be in a curriculum in which he receives help from a psychiatrist and therapist giving him “all the tools” he needs to move forward with his life. The help he has received so far allows him to stay on track in his mental health recovery.
“If I screw up, that’s on me.”
Even though he is required to graduate from the program, Ryan appreciates this fact as he doesn’t have to worry about things on the outside that would have made things harder on his mental recovery, such as work and paying for other living expenses.
At the end of the day, I am a good person. It was just a really bad mistake.”
— Ryan Costales
He considers Mary’s village the best possible solution that could have happened to him, satisfied by the fact that he is “in a good place.”
Even though he misses out on the freedom of being on the outside, Ryan still keeps a positive mindset. A factor that helps him keep a positive mindset is the fact that he is able to teach. He sometimes helps people earn their GED. This is “rewarding because I’m doing something I want to do, to help someone and see an idea go off in their head.”
Helping men achieve a greater education has given Ryan hope to get a job or even to go back to Cal State San Bernardino to get a teacher’s assistant position once he leaves Mary’s Village. Mary´s Village reignited his passion for teaching and helping out others.
Ryan’s aware there are things to learn from his story. “If there is anything about my story it’s that you need to be aware of mental health problems and you need to ask for help.”
Reaching out and talking more about struggling with mental illness helps it become more socially acceptable. As more people share their stories, it will help others reach out for help and not make mistakes that can potentially destroy lives.
Mary’s Village helped Ryan understand the power he has to take care of his mental health, even during his darkest, hardest days. “At the end of the day, I am a good person. It was just a really bad mistake.”