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Graduate Reflection: Finding Happiness

June 12, 2017

I have experienced anxiety all of my life. It started out small, then grew after some trauma. I started therapy my senior year in high school. I became depressed in winter 2015. A teacher found out about my self harm and called my parents. The high school administrators only made me go to my calculus class, but even then I spent most of my time in the vice principal’s office. I got to a place where I just stared off into space and slept.

I was admitted to my first hospital after I told my mom I wanted to go to heaven. I was put in a hospital in Tennessee for 14 days, came home for two days, and then got admitted into a hospital in Ohio. I stayed there for 37 days, and then was transferred to a residential program in California for 67 days. I went home for the summer, and then came to Skyland Trail on August 3.

When I first came to Skyland Trail, I was pretty discouraged. Feeling high anxiety, I was selectively mute and experiencing psychosis. I had no idea how to handle it. I waited for a counselor to step in and fix everything like the counselors did in California. But, I learned that I needed to do this by myself.

I was first put into the Cognition and First Episode (CAFE) recovery community. On this track, I was able to meet young adults like me who struggle with psychosis. It was a safe community for me to open up in, and I learned new skills that had been successful for other people. I got on the right medications and started participating in the classes. In some of the classes, I learned a lot of skills and factual information.  Art, music and healthy challenge were also classes that helped me a lot. Music and art helped me learn how to express myself. The healthy challenge program also really helped me. Kevin, the personal trainer, is phenomenal. In the gym, I learned how to open up and be more verbal and more of myself. Exercise allowed me to put my anxiety and hallucinations on hold. Pretty soon, I was not just more of myself in healthy challenge, but also in other classes.

After being in the CAFE  program for a while, my therapist switched me to the DBT program. In DBT, I learned how to create a self-sooth kit. It also taught me ways to help myself independently.

Skyland Trail has helped me move through treatment. As I grew and learned, the program gave me more freedom. Thanks to Skyland Trail, my parents and I understand each other. I have not experienced psychosis in months and I’m no longer selectively mute. I feel happy to be alive.

-  Rachel W., Skyland Trail alumni