For much of her adult life, Cindy has struggled with anxiety and depression. She often suffered silently but this changed after her family feared for her safety in 2015. Soon after, Cindy sought help from the Behavioral Health Services Team of MMC.
While much of her story remains private, she wants to share pieces of it as a message of hope. After years of various diagnoses, Cindy now knows she struggles from dependent personality disorder. This disorder often leaves a person feeling anxious, helpless or unable to cope independently, along with having a fear of separation and an excessive reliance on others.
During what should have been proud milestones of her children marrying and leaving home Cindy felt lost and depressed, struggling to know who she was as an individual. While she still had a young child at home to care for she began isolating, avoiding self-cares and household tasks often feeling overwhelmed and unable to meet the needs of her family. This lead Cindy to deep bouts of depression and anxiety. This emotional stress was so severe that she found herself at the doctor’s office and emergency room multiple times in the first part of 2015. While the doctors found she had increased blood pressure it was later identified that her mental health condition was exacerbating her medical problems.
Once she sought help and gained a better understanding of her illness, she refused to let it define and limit her. Over the course of 2015 and 2016, she participated in MMC’s Behavioral Health Services adult day treatment program. Here, with a team of counselors and other support systems, she began piecing her life back together with a fierce determination.
“Cindy’s commitment and progress in the program exceeded all expectations,” says Deb Rock, Occupational Therapy Assistant and Cindy’s 1:1 case manager at Behavioral Health Services of MMC. “With each patient we try to understand their needs, work as a team to identify their goals then start implementing steps to achieve those goals in the hopes they can improve their quality of life. In Cindy’s case, she exceeded those goals and just wouldn’t stop. We’re incredibly proud of her.”
The Mental health day treatment program is often referred to as a transition program for people who don’t need the intensity of inpatient hospitalization but need more than traditional outpatient weekly therapy sessions. The program is comprised of a multidisciplinary team including a therapist, recovery services counselor, chaplain, RN, dietary, Yoga instructor, occupational therapy and psychiatry. Interventions include a lot of group therapy and skills development in a group setting but more importantly includes peer support of others working towards wellness, which is a piece of treatment that is often overlooked.
“My peer support group helped me come out of my shell. The more I attended the group, the more I could feel my self-confidence growing. We formed a bond and they helped me rediscover my sense of self,” Cindy says.
Beyond the peer support group and staff at MMC, Cindy has a community team working with her to ensure her on-going success. This includes her psychologist Dr. Cummings back at home in Ironwood, Michigan.
“Dr. Cummings continues to play a role in my recovery process. She worked with the Day Treatment team and today continues to push and support me in the areas I struggle. With her guidance, I’m continuing to learn how to build confidence and gain the courage and tools needed to function more independently.”
Cindy also emphasizes the importance of other supports such as her Chiropractor, her primary care provider, congregation, family and friends, and other non-traditional practices such as equine therapy. For years, Cindy struggled alone. But, once she sought help, she discovered how empowered she could be to fight these disorders head on. She encourages others to do the same to help break the stigma around mental illness and offers these six pieces of advice based on her journey:
• Get out all the painful stuff inside. Talk about it.
• Don’t let your diagnosis define you. You are so much more.
• Push yourself beyond what’s comfortable and do it consistently
• Ask for help when you need it and accept it when it is offered
• Educate yourself
• Find what makes you happy and do it!
The last point has been exhilarating for Cindy. No longer defined by others, she’s rediscovering her passions and hobbies. This includes listening to music, spending time with family and being in nature by water that inspired art projects that involve rock picking on Lake Superior. This creative outlet helps her express herself, which at times is still difficult. She’s strengthened and renewed relationships and is fully enjoying being a mother and grandmother. She’s started working again at a home health agency helping others remain independent. And, she’s fully committed to sharing her story and helping others find hope at a time in which life can feel hopeless.
“I was in a very dark place before I started day treatment,” she says. “This experience has helped me to shine a light on my life again. There’s so much more to my story and this is only one small piece of it but I hope others can draw inspiration from it.”
Help is available. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call BHS at 715-685-5400 to learn more about our programming and how it might help. Or, continue reading here to learn more about the services provided at Behavioral Health Services of MMC.