In the summer of 2019, my son (age 23) had a series of events that catapulted into a full blown panic attack that was completely immobilizing. He was totally distraught, unable to eat, sleep or find a moment of relief from the overwhelming anxiety he was experiencing. This went on for a couple weeks. It was all-consuming and overwhelming. It was incredibly painful to watch him suffer and be unable to help him feel better.
My son is bright, funny, compassionate and kind. He’s the person that everyone always enjoys talking to at a gathering as he’s interested, attentive and fun. Yet during that week, we were unable to calm him or get him to believe that he would get relief from this terrible onslaught of emotions. He was bereft and kept saying that he couldn’t live with these feelings he was having.
As the situation escalated we went to an emergency room, and he was admitted, by his choice, to a facility in the Atlanta area. Here he was able to get pharmaceutical help to alleviate the severity of his panic yet there was absolutely no meaningful intervention to help him understand what had happened and how he could work towards a healthier place.
We immediately began searching for treatment options, and a good friend told us about Skyland Trail. We were so grateful he was admitted, and he soon was part of the Skyland Trail day treatment program for the next couple of months. The contrast and scope in care was beyond measure.
I can honestly say that the relief for all of us was immediate. It was so evident that we were in excellent hands beginning with the admission process and his entrance into the program. We saw my son, as he became more involved with his Core Group and therapists, grow in self-confidence and self-awareness and move out of this dark place he had been in to a place of light and hopefulness.
His group sessions and leaders had a huge impact on his recovery. He will tell you that Skyland Trail brought him a safe community where he finally was surrounded by like-minded people. It helped him so much to be with peers who were struggling with similar issues and allowed him to feel like he wasn’t alone and shouldn’t be ashamed of his struggle. Seeing people in various stages of recovery allowed him to see the process of recovering as they worked together as a group on learning strategies to move to a healthier place. As he states, “It made me realize that I could change and gave me hope.”
When you watch your child suffer and feel hopeless then watch them find level ground and feel hopeful again, there is no greater gift.
Skyland Trail has tremendous commitment to excellence. You see this in their research to provide the very best treatment for their clients. You see it when you call them a year later and they ask you how your son is doing by name. You see it when you attend any function they host that they are fully invested in providing people suffering from mental illness with a path to recovery and a healthier future.
There’s a statement on their website: “You Are More Than Your Diagnosis.” I believe my son suffered silently for many years thinking that he WAS his diagnosis – a person with tremendous anxiety who had to keep that under wraps from others. Hiding and avoiding are key strategies he used to cope, and neither served him well. Intervention at Skyland Trail helped him discover new tools, like Cognitive Behavior Therapy, where he became more aware of the link between his thoughts, feelings and behavior. He learned to communicate more assertively to others to get his needs met. He graduated from the program and has continued to make progress and move into a healthier place. The panic attack was an event. You learn that recovery is a journey.
If you have a loved one suffering from a debilitating mental health disorder, you must have a place to go. Mental health treatment costs are hard to recoup from insurance. Donations are critical to assist many clients who desperately need help but cannot afford the treatment they need. Financial assistance SAVES LIVES. Not just the life of the person getting treatment, but also the lives of their families who have watched them suffer and also need help. Skyland Trail taught me new skills and reminded me of the most effective ways to support my son. I am so very grateful for this program and hope that many others will have the opportunity to get the help that we did.
To demonstrate our many thanks to Skyland Trail, our family decided to give back by supporting Skyland Trail events like the Associates Luncheon and Benefits of Laughter. In addition to the financial contribution, I felt confident that, if I could invite people that I know to these events and introduce them to Skyland Trail, and share my son’s story, they too would become inspired, interested and supportive. While many people are affected by mental illness, not many people are aware of the effective treatment that is available. Being a part of Skyland Trail events has allowed me to educate our community about mental health while supporting an organization that means so much to our family.