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Sarah's Story

April 25, 2018

My name is Sarah. I'm 36 years old and I would not be here without the help of Skyland Trail and financial aid.

I was born and raised in South Carolina. About 12 years ago, a job transferred me to Atlanta. I grew up in a middle-class family; my mom taught school for 35 years and my dad was in sales. I'm the youngest of three children.

I grew up in the shadow of my family. I always did the right thing and stayed out of trouble. I had older sister and an older brother who often did get in trouble and I didn't want to put any more burden on my parents, so I stayed in the shadow, did the right thing, and did well in school.

As an avid athlete, I received a scholarship to go to college. I played two sports in college: basketball and cross-country. I was never really the most popular kid, but I was never the biggest loser. I was oftentimes just there doing what I was supposed to, or trying to at least.

I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life. My father was absent during much of my childhood, so my grandparents raised me. When I was 18 years old my older brother, who was 21, died by suicide. I was the last person he spoke to that night. When I was 30 years old, I went through a horrific divorce after being in that relationship for 11 years. Throughout this, I never really learned how to how to deal with any of it and I didn't know how to cope with it. I put my head down, buried myself in work and continued to make sure everybody else around me was doing okay.

I was always the caretaker. This worked great for me until I was about 34 years old, which is about two years ago - when things slowly started falling apart. I became very isolated and depressed. I did seek help through a therapist as well as a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, I was to the point where that was not helping at all. The therapist referred me to Skyland Trail in October 2016. When I got to Skyland Trail, I had completely forgotten how to feel or how to express any of my emotions. I was always just numb to everything. I didn't understand what was going on. I felt hopeless.

 I'm fortunate enough to have completed the DBT program at Skyland Trail as well as some of the outpatient DBT program.

In fall 2017, I had to be hospitalized because I was having suicidal thoughts which became unmanageable. Once I was stabilized, I was fortunate enough to immediately return to Skyland Trail to work through the CBT program. This was a huge turning point for me and the only reason that it was possible was because I was awarded financial aid.

 I've had good jobs. I've been successful. But, I was not in the financial state to be able to put myself through treatment. With the financial aid, I was able to really focus on myself and focus on my recovery and for that I am forever grateful. I was able to completely stop work and just focus on the treatment that Skyland Trail offers. With the unique and holistic approach of Skyland Trail, I feel like 100 percent a better person. I am probably in the best place I have ever  been since I can remember in my life and I'm forever grateful for it. It's really been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This article appeared in the 2017 Annual Report.