REPORTAGE To help young people suffering from bipolarity and schizophrenia, the Maison Perchée, a non-medical place during the day, will open its doors in Paris
The four founders of the Maison Perché ( from left to right), Caroline Matte, Maxime Perez-Zitvogel, Victoria Leroy and Lucille Zolla, accompanied by Hana Levy-Soussan, in charge of the association's volunteers. — Guillaume Sudre
- La Maison Perchée allows people aged 18 to 40 suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to participate in discussion groups, workshops and conversations in pairs carried out by people with similar disorders.
- The aim of the association: to help each other between young people with similar experiences and to allow those who have taken a step back from their disorder to give hope to others.
- “We find ourselves with people who have had more or less similar experiences, so we come out of this loneliness,” explains Hana, a volunteer with the association who suffers from bipolar disorder. “When many of you are crazy, you don't feel crazy anymore. »
At 59 avenue de la République, in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, a room with large windows surrounded by black sports a large sticker “La Maison Perchée”. This Thursday evening, for the first time, the windows are fogged up. Inside, the silhouettes move about. About a hundred people came to attend the the inauguration of this somewhat special place which will open its doors to members on December 1st and to the general public in January. A non-medical place for young people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia based on on helping each other, listening and sharing experiences. Three of its four young founders and founders, Maxime Perez-Zitvogel, Lucille Zolla, Caroline Matte and Victoria Leroy, suffer from one of these two disorders.
20 hours. The four thirty-somethings take to the stage in front of their relatives, volunteers and several patrons. “I understood that the hospital wasn’t very hospitable to me,” many stays in psychiatric hospitals. I needed a home, for me but also for other people who wander.” Maxime Perez-Zitvogel picks up the microphone: “I was lucky to have a roof, food and relatives who supported me. But not everyone is so lucky.” Maxime’s sister turns around and looks at her mother tenderly.
Talk Groups, Workshops and pairs
It’s to combat this loneliness that the Maison Perchée was created. created. Hana Levy-Soussan, 29, is present on the stage. The student had just finished her master's degree in psychology when she was hospitalized for four months due to her diagnosed bipolar disorder; in June 2020. “When I was really high and completely delirious at in the hospital, what I suffered the most was the loneliness, the fact that no one understood what I was saying,” confides the young woman once off stage.
So when she discovered the Maison Perchée, she didn’t hesitate. “You end up with people who have had more or less similar experiences, so you come out of this solitude. When there are several of us Being crazy, you don't feel crazy anymore.”
On the walls, a frieze summarizes the path taken by the association since its beginnings, in 2020. If discussion groups, workshops and conversations in pairs could already be carried out online for almost a year, Parisians can now go to the spacious premises of the association to attend. A huge room with a high ceiling in the heart of the capital that the founders and volunteers took time to create. find and which also houses a café to its entrance, open to visitors; everyone.
A sharing of experiences
In front of the frieze, drawings made by members of the community. and QR codes make it possible to obtain information on the various disorders, in order to de-stigmatize mental illness. “In my time, the stigma was even greater,” said Rémi, one of the oldest – although relatively young – volunteers. The almost quadra began. by hosting talk groups and taking “hour-long phone calls from people who weren’t feeling very well and wanted to talk”.
Before joining the Maison Perchée, he had never met; people with bipolar disorder, like him, outside of his stays in a psychiatric hospital and said he wanted to “share his experience”. The engineer is married, father of two children and has worked in large boxes and abroad. “By leading support groups, I realized that ç younger people who had been recently diagnosed and who never imagined it was possible.”
Volunteers trained for a year
The training of the “peer helpers” is handled by Hana. The trained psychologist, who today prefers the title of “psychofolly”, recruits, trains and accompanies dozens of volunteers. People who have taken a step back from their disorder and with whom young people can identify. Continuing education lasts one year. “I teach them how to lead a discussion group, support the other in the most helpful way possible, tell their story by going from our raw experience to what is happening. experiential knowledge,” she says cheerfully. People who have been accompanied are encouraged to help to their turn once they are on the road to recovery.
At the Maison Perchée, volunteers and members address all the questions that a young person living with a mental disorder may have. “We organize workshops on the theme of “better know your rights,””explains Clara, a volunteer who is studying law. “For example, we explain how to justify a long absence due to hospitalization on a CV”. Questions that people do not necessarily ask. their psychiatrist, in the same way as their intimate life, their studies or their family life.
The families have not been forgotten, because there are also support groups for relatives. Florence, who proudly wears her “volunteer” badge, is one of them. The mother of the family joined the Maison Perchée at following the diagnosis of her 19-year-old son. Today she coordinates support groups for relatives. “Right now my son doesn’t want to attend, mum regrets. But at least he knows it exists. the summary timeline and see the progress made. The four founders are now employees. They were able to recruit 25 volunteers and the House already has a hundred members. A house that never stops growing.