July 27, 2018
I’m 27 years old. I have struggled for most of my adult life with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety. Despite working in the field myself as a mental health professional, I found myself this past spring almost completely decompensated. I was having panic attacks on an hourly basis. I was unable to leave my room for four days in a row – not eating, barely drinking water and hardly sleeping. I was completely unable to care for myself.
Surviving is the only word that can describe my existence for the past five to six years. My job was deeply unfulfilling – working in a high-stress field with low pay, poor management and an unreasonable workload. My home life was similarly fraught. I bounced around from one rented room to the next, often living with roommates who ranged from passive-aggressive to verbally abusive. Because I was not able to manage my mental health, I dropped out of college. My lack of a degree had both limited my career prospects and led to a great deal of personal shame.
I was an only child living 800 miles from my parents and over an hour from my closest friends. A lifetime of chronically poor self-esteem also limited my motivation to care for myself – physically, mentally and emotionally. I was lonely, tired and hopeless.
I stumbled on Skyland Trail almost entirely by accident. I was seeking treatment in Georgia, despite living in the Northeast, because I was having difficulty finding providers in my home state that I did not also work with professionally. I called my insurance, got a list of in-network providers and started making phone calls. Skyland Trail was the only program that returned my call, and I am forever grateful that they did.
Skyland Trail was an absolutely transformative and invaluable experience for me. Despite my work in the field, I didn’t know that a holistic program like this existed.
Three phrases that are often heard around Skyland Trail’s campus are: “Trust the process,” “You get out what you put in the program,” and “You will make lifelong friendships here.” From personal experience, I can tell you that all three statements are absolutely true.
During my treatment, I worked with various clinicians and staff, all of whom were inarguably brilliant – a psychiatrist, a therapist, a family psychologist, a discharge planner, a dietician and a vocational counselor. Skyland Trail’s program will undoubtedly challenge you. But the staff and clients alike will help facilitate those challenges with thoughtful and articulate feedback and encouragement. Collectively, I attended 150 hours of group therapy at Skyland Trail and at no point during my treatment did I feel anything less than respected and supported.
Skyland Trail provided me with a community, with a wealth of skills to manage my mental illness and with a perfect launching pad for my journey to self-love.