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Graduate Reflection: Finding a Life Worth Living

April 26, 2017

I had been miserable for the past 20 years. I didn’t know who I was, and I never was given the space to figure that out. 

For years, I had been seeing a psychiatrist for a learning disability. But I felt like no one was catching this pain I was in. I was convinced that I was “unfixable.” That this was going to be a lifelong thing. 

While I was in the hospital, I was fortunate to meet someone who said, “This thing you have, it has a name. It’s called Borderline Personality Disorder and it’s not surprising that you’re in this much pain.” She also said, “There’s this place called Skyland Trail...” 

At Skyland Trail, I began to see that I had been using these unhealthy coping mechanisms to shield myself from the constant pain. I learned that what I had tried before – just changing my thought process – was not going to make the pain go away.

I was skeptical at first. If you don’t have hope for long enough, it feels dangerous to hope again. But then I started to see proof that it was working.

I worked hard because I wanted to get as much out of my time at Skyland Trail as I could. As I worked, I started to get hope back slowly. At some point I had a breakthrough. Not only were skills good in theory, but they started working really really well. Distress was still distress, but it was validated, and tolerable. That changed my life. Being able to hear from others - and see for myself - that “yeah, of course you’re feeling this. This is how you deal with it. This is how you work through it and continue to live your life.” It revealed my life worth living to me. Slowly.

Receiving financial aid support from Skyland Trail means that I don’t have to dip into my college savings. I really can go home and start over. And I can’t thank you enough for that. I get to be and feel safe wherever I go now, and that feels like a miracle. Thank you.

— Lizzie S., Skyland Trail graduate

This article appeared in the 2016 Annual Report.