Sayid’s Story

Sayid and Firas

Triggered from the traumas during his experiences in Syria and as a refugee of war, Sayid’s depression and anxiety came later in life. Sayid and his family had to flee the Syrian Civil War approximately five years ago. They ran from bombs, from soldiers, from food and water shortages – they ran from everything they once knew to find peace.

Sayid and his family had to endure life as refugees in Lebanon for several years before getting the call to come to America. With so few resources allotted to them, Sayid and his family had to spend more time surviving than finding ways to cope with their recent traumas.

“I couldn’t sleep, I was having regular nightmares. There was a constant fear for my family’s safety, and I felt I could never rest.”

Sayid was resettled in Chicago through Heartland Alliance, where he was provided access to housing, employment, and healthcare. When he explained his internal struggles with anxiety, Sayid was recommended to Heartland Alliance Health’s IFACES program – a clinical and case management program dedicated to helping refugees through mental health services.

Through the program, Sayid was introduced to his new case manager, Firas. Firas, himself a refugee from the Middle East, has been serving individuals struggling with their mental health for years. The two quickly made a connection, and Firas was able to link Sayid with a psychiatrist as well as a movement therapist.

“My doctors believe that my mental health and physical health conditions are connected. I’m very stiff now, so we work a lot on relaxation.”

On some days that work includes yoga, other days they focus on music therapy. No matter what vehicle Sayid and his therapist use, they are always talking, always working. On the case management side of the program, Sayid works hand in hand with Firas to continue building a life in Chicago. Sayid joins other IFACES participants on trips around the city, learning about new ways of life and culture.

Sayid believes that this sense of community has helped him find peace – and that his close relationship with Firas has given him the chance to trust again.

“I had to go to the emergency room just recently, and it could have been a very overwhelming experience. Firas came with me and stayed the entire time. It helps so much knowing there are people who care about us. Thankfully, I know I’m improving because of it.”

As time moves on and Chicago becomes home to Sayid and his family, the prospect of peace seems much more realistic. Sayid’s family is thriving in their new home, and Sayid – one day at a time, one session at a time – is confident in his path toward healing.

“My anxiety has shrunk so much. My treatment, along with the sense of safety my family and I have in our new home city, has given me another chance at life. Every day is a good day to see the therapist, and I’m lucky enough to have that opportunity.”