A Story of Hope: Meet Justine
August 24, 2018
Wikipedia defines darkness as the partial or total absence of light. For someone like myself who is diagnosed with major depressive disorder, the meaning is strikingly different. It could be 75 degrees outside with the bluest of skies and bright sunshine, yet suffering from depression is a very dark place no matter what time of day it is. It often results in pulling one's sheets over one's head and not getting out of bed. It's avoiding friends and family. It's when the crying never stops and the desire to do most anything is burdensome. And if one tries to climb out of the darkness and do the easiest of tasks, it often results in anxiety.
My decision to come to HopeWay was an act of fate. I had been meeting with my psychiatrist and therapist almost weekly and we struggled to find any sort of balance in my life. I was living at home with my husband of 20 years and two teenagers. I was physically there, but not mentally present. I had mentioned the word suicide on more than one occasion to my husband. My psychiatrist told me that out of his patients, I was in the top 1% of most difficult to treat. As we discussed medicines, he mentioned he had just learned about a facility in Charlotte, NC called HopeWay. At that point, HopeWay had only been opened for 6 months, but it already had a good reputation for helping people like me put the pieces of my life back together and live a happier, productive life.
I had already been inpatient at two facilities over the last 7 years. One stay was just mediocre, but it did help me get to where I led a stable life, was able to help raise the children and participate in family gatherings. The second facility felt like a babysitting service with no functional or formal programming. I lasted there only a week, and the only good from the experience was a referral to a therapist who I love and still see today, two years later.
My first impression of HopeWay was amazing. My husband and I were greeted by the gentleman whom we had been communicating with to go over the logistics of the 30-day stay and programming. We were both called by our first names by people we had not even met. Besides being a well-planned state-of-the-art facility, the staff was impeccable, calling me by name even in the cafeteria! I felt truly welcomed. Even in my first days, I felt a sense of relief with my initial assessment by my assigned HopeWay psychiatrist and therapist. The private room, technical specialists and nurses really made me feel at home.
The biggest thing I learned from HopeWay was self-respect. Through daily Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we each had chances to get feelings and experiences out that may have been deep down inside of us. Under a therapist’s guidance, we all helped each other. It felt so good to be surrounded by others who understood what was going on inside my brain and in my life.
The other areas that made HopeWay so special were the daily meditations, Art, Music, Nutrition and Wellness, Recreation and Outdoor Therapy as well as Yoga to enable us to really get in touch with our own selves and continue the healing process.
My best day at HopeWay was a night gathering on our residential hall. There was a teenage client who had transferred in from the day program and was very shy at first. After a few days, she opened up a bit and broke out her ukulele that was given to her by her grandparents. She strummed a few notes and sang a few verses. This piqued the interest of the others on our hall, and we asked her if she would come out and play for us. She not only played her ukulele but she sang an original song she had composed. It left us speechless and some in tears of joy to witness the talent of this young woman who was suffering from depression, but had an outlet that made her happy. It made all of us, including the tech specialists and nurses, happy too!
The best day since I left the program was the day I reached my 30lb weight loss goal after joining a gym, running and eating healthy over the past year. Between the efficacy of the right medications, monthly visits to my incredible therapist and a positive attitude, I was able to fully participate and enjoy the zip lining, white water rafting and paragliding our family experienced on our recent summer trip to Vail, Colorado.
The most important thing I would say to a prospective client is that “where there is hope, there is a way and your journey can start here, today, at this very moment!”