Attonia “Toni” Sarch grew up in an abusive home. She excelled at school, left home and earned her nursing degree.

She helped direct a California psychiatric long-term care facility until one day her life unraveled.

Mental illness and the effects of untreated childhood trauma took away her ability to manage her job, daily affairs and even self-care. She ended up losing her home and all her savings.

She moved back to Oklahoma to be near family and received intensive, long-term care for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar.

Toni uses her journey to help others daily as a Recovery

Support Specialist at Peers’ Place in the Sand Springs’ office. Peers’ Place is open Monday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“I personally deal with the daily challenges of mental illness,” Toni said. “I understand how difficult it is to take that first step toward recovery and how important it is to have support, “Toni said.

Toni and Peers’ Place offer encouragement, emotional support, education, and a chance to seek help and support from peers.

Peers’ Place, a free drop-in center for mental health clients, offers access to computers and internet, refreshments and reading materials.

Toni uses her nursing skills with the Tulsa County Medical Corps. She was part of the response to Moore’s devastating May tornado. Her combination of medical and peer support skills came in handy in Moore where people had not only physical injuries but also emotional ones.

“Sometimes, the unseen injuries can hurt the most,” Toni said.