Success Stories

Personal Stories of Recovery

Ken Brzezinski hooked on hobby once again

Everybody enjoys a good fishing story.

Ken Brzezinski is beginning a new chapter of his.

Having not gone fishing for two years, Ken recently celebrated his 65th birthday, an age at which he became eligible for a senior lifetime fishing license. Thanks to Stairways Behavioral Health’s Client Wellness Fund, which covered the license’s cost, Ken’s line is finally back in the water, a place he feels most comfortable.

 “Fishing is a good part of a man’s life,” Ken, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and whose involvement with Stairways dates back to the early 1970s, says.

Ken’s reintroduction to the sport has come at a most opportune time.

After being laid off from his job in April, Ken found himself lacking direction and was unsure of how to fill the newly idle time on his hands. Ken feared he would fall back into a depression that had relegated him to a routine consisting only of sleeping and eating for two years some time ago.

“I was clinically depressed and got up at 3 p.m. every day, ate supper, soaked in the tub for a little while then went back to bed,” Ken said.

“I understand now that I was depressed and I want to keep active to avoid that. It’s too easy to veg out and I never want to get back (there). That’s something I hope to never return to.”

Though he’d still like to obtain employment at some level, possibly in a position working with animals, Ken has discovered that casting a line in the water can be a therapeutic and enjoyable diversion.

“I never did any illegal or street drugs but I call fishing a natural high,” says Ken. “It’s one thing that makes you realize you can take a break and don’t have to keep doing task after task.”

Life is different from when Ken last picked up his rod and reel—he assumes he will no longer be able to wade in streams due to physical limitations— but he is still drawn to fishing’s fickle nature of not knowing when the next bite will occur.

“It’s a guessing game as far as where the fish are,” he says. “Sometimes you go and you try every spot you can think of and you won’t get anything. But other times you fish the same places and you catch your limit.”

It’s a patient approach he looks to transfer to the rest of his life as he transitions to the next chapter.

“There’s a lot of things I would like to do,” Ken says, “but I don’t have really any concrete plans so we’ll just let it flow and see where it goes for a while.”

"Stairways helped me to work on recovery, one step at a time." -Ron S

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