David N.

Man kneels next to greenhouse sign
David N. poses next to the entrance of the Skyland Trail greenhouse on his final day as a client.

Skyland Trail’s web materials note that “many of our clients come to us exhausted, scared and desperate.” That was me in July of 2019.

Earlier in the year, I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. That diagnosis later proved inaccurate, but it was the triggering event for my third lifetime event of generalized anxiety disorder. The GAD symptoms piled on top of medication side effects, and the constant worry led to gastritis. My interior monologue became, “I’m dying.”

Enough of my rational brain took over that I began researching treatment options and found Skyland Trail. I was attracted by Skyland’s heavy CBT focus, their integration of medical and psychiatric and psychological treatment, together with their not-for-profit status. I read the client success stories, and vowed to someday write one.

With hard work and the help of a great treatment team, I can now do that.

For me, success at Skyland was a blend. I hit the CBT materials and classes hard, taking to heart the concept that while pain exists, it is our thoughts, and distorted thinking that creates suffering. I learned to identify and challenge distorted thinking such as catastrophizing and disqualifying the positive. For the first time, I participated in group therapy, and learned the power of speaking your story. I learned mindfulness and the power of meditation. I met with my counselor and psychiatrist weekly. Each time further fine tuning my treatment. Finally, the terrific sense of community and peer support sped my remission. Skyland gave me the tools to get my life back.

It is perhaps the community that I will miss the most. For my graduation, I wrote a poem reflecting on my time here.

If Skyland is an option for you, please give it your consideration. I wish safety, health, happiness, and freedom from suffering.

In Treatment

Last night
I drove home in a storm.

As I struggled against the rain on my windows
I noticed the other drivers.

I caught the barest glimpse of
The man in the hat
The woman in the only car she could afford
The boy battered by the wind.

We drove the same road.
We faced the same challenge.
Had we met in the sunlight
We might travel many roads together.
But in the storm
I caught only the barest glimpse of

The woman in the beaded jacket
The man crying silently
The boy in the jersey

When I finally turned off the rough road
I was left with only the memory
Of all of us striving to reach home
And only the power

To wish that each one was safe
To wish that each one was happy
To wish that each one was free from suffering
To wish that each one drove ever in the sunlight
And not in the storm.

Poem by David N.