"I really can say that I feel I have made great strides in my recovery... it really made me aware of some of the things I need to do to help myself." -MG
"I cannot tell you how helpful and reassuring you were to me. This was very difficult – and you made it easier.” -KG
[The following testimonial was sent by a client who feels that Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health is responsible for the positive changes in her life. As a token of her gratitude, she created an album of her own original photography and gifted it to the counselor she feels helped her so much.]
"Thank you for all you’ve done for me over the years. You taught me to use my wise mind, helped me to see the beauty in life when it feels like there isn’t any, and helped me to acknowledge my needs and learn how to voice them. You have a huge impact on people’s lives and have undoubtedly changed many for the better. I know that you have mine. May you look at these pictures I took once in a while for a gentle reminder of all these things and to bring a smile to your soul. Without all the things I've learned through DBT I never would have been able to see the beauty through the lens." -DS
[The following testimonial was sent by a client who successfully completed the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) at Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health. In this testimonial, he speaks about his life prior to the program, the identified “triggers” for his illness, and the skills he acquired during the program to help better manage his life.]
"Seek Help - Treatment Works - It Did for Me!"
"If you broke your leg, wouldn’t you want to get it treated? Chances are you would get help immediately. Why is it that when it comes to mental illness we let ourselves suffer?
Maybe it’s because in many cases a mental illness isn’t as “obvious” as a broken leg. Maybe it’s embarrassment to admit there might be something not quite right about ourselves. Maybe it’s because the term mental illness conjures up someone in a straightjacket. Whatever the case, mental illness is nothing to fool around with. I should know. I suffer from OCD.
Most of my life I’ve considered dwelling on things and keeping myself up at night worrying about the future as part of my being. However, after nearly four decades on this earth, I realize I don’t have to live like that anymore. How do I know this? Thanks to strong persuasion from my wife, I recently enrolled in Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health’s' Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) to treat mental illness.
All along, the warning signs were there for my OCD. The trouble breathing, difficulty keeping focused, and even chest pains should have alerted me that something was not quite right. When a perceived or a real crisis occurred, I would go into “shut down” mode. Most often I would deal with my problems by trying to sleep hoping they would magically disappear when I woke up.
My obsessive worrying about my family’s finances was gradually driving a wedge between me and my wife. Instead of coming home from work wanting to be a husband and a dad to my two little girls, I would dwell on the negative. Looking back, I can see why my wife wanted me to get help. At the time, it was hard to see and I thought worrying was something I was supposed to do. I even saw worrying as a badge of honor. The more I worried, the more I thought it proved how much I loved my family.
When my wife first told me about PHP, I thought I didn’t need any help. However, the more I thought about and looked at myself honestly, I realized that maybe I did help. Worrying was truly running my life.
To no great surprise, an evaluation confirmed that I had OCD. I started PHP immediately. PHP met 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week for three weeks and covered a wide range of topics including medication, support systems, spirituality, music therapy, and cognitive distortions in a small-group setting.
One of the most important realizations about myself came on my third day at Alexian Brothers. Looking at the sheet for the day, I remember seeing there was a discussion entitled “Victim/Survivor.” I wasn’t looking forward to it, thinking that it dealt with someone who was sexually or physically abused. The discussion did pertain to victims and survivors, but not in the way I thought.
To my surprise, I felt like this talk was made especially for me. We talked about how survivors are proactive and victims are reactive. Survivors display an “I-can-handle this” mentality while victims cop an “it’s-not-fair-and-this-isn’t-shouldn’t be- happening-to me” attitude. I realized that almost all my life I walked around thinking of myself as a victim. “It’s not fair that we pay more in day care than our mortgage,” and “I can’t handle things” were just some of my more constantly consuming thoughts.
This was probably one of the biggest “a-ha” moments in my life. It dawned on me like a ton of bricks that my way of thinking was not productive for me or my family. I don’t know why it took that particularly moment for me to realize that instead of being an ostrich that puts his head in the sand, I need to be a problem solver. Whatever the reason, I'm just glad it happened.
Even while I was at PHP my thinking was put to the test. I noticed that I began thinking more in “survivor” terms. During my stint at PHP, my cell phone was going to be shut off for nonpayment. Instead of getting upset about it and thinking how “unfair” it was, I got into problem solver mode. I called up the cell phone company and told them I got paid in a few days and I would be happy to settle the bill when my check went into the bank. Lo and behold, my carrier agreed and the problem was solved.
While that may seem like a small thing, it’s a big deal to me. Prior to PHP, I would have avoided dealing with the situation or even would have asked my wife to take care of it for me. I can’t guarantee that I won’t fall apart in the future if something doesn’t go as planned, but at least I have new found coping skills at my disposal.
The three-week program greatly helped me in other ways as well. During my time at Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health, I learned how important goals are (in fact we started the day off by making daily goals) and that I benefit when I have structure in my life.
In addition, I realize that it’s important to know what triggers my OCD. Now that I know what sets me off (my finances), I can pull out some of the tricks I learned at PHP to extinguish my OCD thinking.
After attending PHP, I realize that I’m not miraculously “cured." I realize that OCD will always be with me, but I don’t need to be a slave to it. I now have a toolbox that’s filled with many instruments to keep my OCD at bay. Alexian Brothers showed me that life is always going to be filled with obstacles and problems but now I'm more prepared to handle whatever life throws at me. Thanks Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health!"