“Mary” is a great example of how recovery is a process and not a destination. With more than 12 inpatient admissions in two years, she held little hope for ever having a life worth living again. She had been using alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine for many years as a means of self-medicating her mental health symptoms. Her addiction took her to some very dark places, including jails and prison. After several years in an abusive relationship, she opted to move into her own place.
She reconnected with her son, from whom she had been estranged for many years as a result of her drug use. “Mary” was very happy to have her son in her life again, but found that the symptoms of her mental illness were no longer being controlled by her use of drugs and alcohol. She would occasionally use some marijuana, but had stopped drinking and using meth as a means of coping with her symptoms. “Mary” was now experiencing very acute symptoms of her mental illness, including severe bouts of depression and paralyzing anxiety causing her to go in and out of the hospital. She had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder many years before, but lacked insight related to her illness or that recovery was even possible. She had attempted to end her life by suicide, overdosing on her medication on multiple occasions.
When she was transferred to the Assertive Treatment Team (ACT) about three years ago, she was living in a small, twobedroom apartment in Oildale with her son, in sub-standard living conditions, surrounded by drug dealers and criminals. She would rarely venture outside her home, leaving only to pickup a check from her payee and make some minimal purchases at the neighborhood grocery store. “Mary” had lost all hope of ever having a life worth living again, but ACT understood that this woman wanted to live more than she wanted to die. By understanding the stages of change, incorporating some innovative interventions tailored just for her, and partnering with “Mary,” ACT was able to be effective in facilitating change in her life. ACT provided intensive services to assist her with learning the recovery skills she needed to move through these stages.
By learning some DBT skills, participating in individual and family therapy, and getting into action, she was able to make significant changes in her life. “Mary” moved out of that substandard apartment and is now living in a beautiful room and board, in a well-established neighborhood. She has been hospital-free for over 8 months now and can’t imagine how she ever wanted to end her life. She enjoys the company of the other residents and staff, but most often is out and about in the community doing the things she enjoys. She has started living life again as a result of making some very difficult, but very needed changes. Her son has moved out of state when she left the apartment, but continues to stay in touch with his mother. By demonstrating some willingness to move forward and walk through the fear, she has been able to transform her life into something she thought it would never be. “Mary” is scheduled to start day treatment at Chateau and plans to do a stand-up comedy audition at a local nightclub. “Mary” has plans for her future, stating “Eventually I want to go to college and study political science.”
We applaud “Mary” for all her hard work in moving forward with her recovery! Change is not only possible…it’s inevitable!