How difficult a task to sum up so briefly what Brookhaven has meant to me and continues to mean to me. My expectations of what I could expect from treatment were so far below what treatment actually provided that sitting here at home today, I can only feel supremely thankful I made the decision to enter treatment at Brookhaven. I searched for over a year, knowing I needed more help than outpatient and inpatient treatment could offer me for my mood disorder but was scared to make a commitment to treatment because I had never heard of residential treatment for a primary mood disorder. Looking at reality, Brookhaven is expensive. I was scared to invest that much money in treatment when no treatment to that point in my life had proven successful. It wasn't until Christmas 2010 that I gave myself the ultimate gift by taking the leap of faith and putting trust in a treatment program I wasn't entirely sure would work.
I made the 8 hour drive to Seymour, Tennessee to visit/tour Brookhaven on New Year's Day and was instantly impressed by how accommodating and helpful the staff was. After an hour or more of touring and asking any and every question I could think of to different staff, I was barely out of the parking lot when I knew Brookhaven was the place for me. I couldn't and still can't explain exactly why I knew it, but I was so convinced of it that no one could argue with me. They saw my conviction in me.
I was under the false, and somewhat silly assumption, that making the decision to go to treatment was the hardest part. While it was extremely difficult and anxiety-provoking, I neglected to realize that treatment itself was going to be some of the hardest work I have ever done. I can, however, sit here now and say it's also the most rewarding work I've ever done. I thought the staff would do their thing and in 30 days I would be cured, and that couldn't be farther from the reality of treatment. The reality is that staff was helpful and patient and willing to go above and beyond to help with anything I needed, but I had to first show commitment to my own recovery and fully trust that what staff was recommending was what was best for me. In essence, I had to "get out of my own way" which unfortunately didn't happen until about 45 days into treatment. I don't know how or why it happened, but it did and at that point I made the decision to stay a full 90 days, realizing at that point that no amount of money was too much to spend for mental wellbeing.
In treatment there were many tears, many laughs, many times of frustration, and many times of absolute pride and joy. I celebrated successes, no matter how small, and was always encouraged when staff recognized them with me. I also learned to utilize the varying expertise of the staff so that it seems like I was always asking for more information, more books, more "homework", more of their insight. I'm fairly certain there isn't a staff member that I didn't gain some sort of help from.
I'm not going to lie and say I'm cured. The reality is that I probably never will be. What is truth is that I have reached a level of self-understanding so that I can see when mood changes are happening or when my thinking is distorted and I have the tools to implement changes early in the process so I avoid the extremes of depression. I still am committed to my recovery at home by being involved in outpatient treatment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, EMDR specialist, nutritionist, and Brookhaven's aftercare program, but the tools I earned at Brookhaven are a vital part of my emotional sobriety today. When I think about what other “things” I could have bought with the money I spent on treatment, I realize I could have bought a house, several cars, paid cash for grad school, etc., but I absolutely do not regret in any way spending the money on treatment. It was truly a life-changing and life-saving experience that all the houses and cars in the world couldn't replace. I owe Brookhaven my life, I owe my happiness to me!