In 2012, I experienced “the perfect storm.” I was forced to seek my comfort in bed, had no appetite at all, felt that I was “stuck” down in a hole, could barely breathe and experienced mild panic attacks. I learned three things really quick: First, mental illness is not a moral issue, but rather a medical condition. Second, it takes real “guts” to get stable. And third, I learned that “life is not what happens to us, it’s how we react that counts.”
There is a special compassion and understanding shown at Skyland unlike any other place.
In 2013, I began treatment at Skyland Trail. There is a special compassion and understanding shown at Skyland unlike any other place. I learned many coping skills – from changing my reaction techniques to mindfulness – that I still use after six years!
My husband, Jerry, experienced an increasing level of confidence that I would improve and that our lives would return to a new and somewhat different, but very rewarding, level of happiness. He could see that I was progressing, sometimes in small steps, sometimes with seemingly giant leaps.
Skyland is really a magical place, where true miracles happen every day. As the result of my time there, today I am a very whimsical and positive person again. I have returned to gardening, sometimes with our 14-year old granddaughter, painting rocks with our 8-year old grandson, and attending the numerous sports events in which our older grandsons participate.
Today, one thing that helps me maintain my health is to give back. Jerry and I have been blessed in so many ways, both in our family and personal relationships – we have so many special friends – and in our business and financial experiences. While we have given to community causes like children’s health and education for many years, we began to include Skyland Trail in our giving.
For me, two important ways to give to Skyland are to volunteer with and contribute to the Horticultural Therapy program and to support the financial aid scholarship programs that help so many clients complete their wellness journeys. We have also enjoyed being patrons or sponsors for fundraising events like the Associates Luncheon and Benefits of Laughter that help introduce Skyland Trail to our community and educate others about mental illness.
As a family, we have tried to put some structure in our giving. We give to organizations that strive to improve the world in matters especially important to us. We give only to organizations that are professional and efficient in delivering the services which fulfill their mission. And we give to organizations for which we, or other family members, care enough to dedicate time and services as well as financial contributions.
Skyland Trail meets all of our criteria. And this is especially true with the upcoming expansion to cover teenagers’ increasing mental health issues with the new adolescent program and campus.
As I learned from Wade Lee, the alumni program director, “Gratitude and depression cannon exist simultaneously.” A sense of empowerment and positive self-image comes when you know you’re helping others. And now that I’ve been on the “Dark side” and then entered the Light, my journey has come full circle! Thank you, Skyland Trail!