Recovery isn’t a linear process. It’s a journey with ups and downs, setbacks and successes, a journey that works out best when you’re surrounded by support, particularly family. The journey for one mother started in 2016 when her oldest daughter began to struggle with mental health while away at college.
“Things were starting to deteriorate, so I just started researching places. I didn’t want her to be hospitalized again,” said Nanette H. about her oldest daughter, who was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and experiencing anosognosia, a condition when someone is unable to perceive or accept a diagnosis of mental illness. “She didn’t realize she was ill and stopped taking her medication.”
Her oldest daughter enrolled in the Skyland Trail residential treatment program in 2017.
While her oldest daughter progressed through residential and day treatment, Nanette attended Skyland Trail’s Family STEP program, a free weekly support and education program for family members and loved ones of Skyland Trail adult clients that is made possible through charitable donations. During each meeting, attendees learn about different mental health topics from clinical experts and provide support for one another as fellow family members of someone with a serious mental illness.
“Every week, STEP helped me learn how to communicate with my daughter better or how to handle certain situations. It can be difficult,” Nanette says. “Without an understanding of what they are going through and what you need yourself to handle it, you become a part of the problem. You go around in circles. I learned so much.”
Since graduating from Skyland Trail in 2017, Nanette’s oldest daughter has improved greatly. She recently secured a full-time job, takes her medication as scheduled, and has shown increased cognitive and executive functioning, which often are impacted by psychosis.
“She knew if it could help her sister, it could help her as well,” Nanette says. “It was actually through STEP and Family Orientation where I began to understand how to best help my youngest daughter. It really helped the entire family with the education and information that is shared there.”
Her youngest daughter, who graduated from Skyland Trail in 2019, recognizes that recovery is not a linear process. When she still occasionally struggles, she remembers that her sister experienced ups and downs as well. Recovery takes time.
Now, Nanette hopes that by giving back to Skyland Trail as a Grateful Family, she can help provide this same kind of knowledge and support to future client families.
“There’s so much stigma behind mental illness, and there are so many suffering. I think society can really benefit from having more education around mental illness,” says Nanette.
“Skyland Trail is incredibly unique. The ability to cover every aspect of these illnesses is really important. Few places are as comprehensive, and I wish that more people understood the impact of donating and contributing has on the clients and their families.”