I have always felt fortunate to have been able to work hard and regain my speech, become physically strong and am continually working on my short term memory issues and limited peripheral vision.
However, what I did not address successfully was the crippling depression, mood instability, lack of emotional containment, and distorted thinking I was experiencing.
I went to neurologists, physiatrists that specialize in brain injuries, and therapists desperately seeking answers. I was put on so many medications for all of the problems I was experiencing. I was trying to manage all of these problems with medicines that were all administered on a "how are you feeling" basis. "Take more of this, and less of that" is what I was told week after week. When the medicines did not address my emotional pain, I added to them my own "medicine" which was alcohol.
It is miraculous that my physical body even survived what I was putting into it. However, my mental, emotional, and spiritual side did not survive and I was completely dead inside living in a very dark place.
Throughout this time, my husband was a strong support but was reaching the end of his rope with my out of control state of being. A family friend had told him about Brookhaven and he called the number he was given. Much to our surprise, Jacqueline, the founder and owner of Brookhaven, answered the call and talked to us both at length. For the first time, in a very long time, I felt a glimmer of hope. I knew I had to get to Jacqueline and the retreat she has created immediately. We made the arrangements and went.
I can honestly say that throughout out my entire lifetime experiences, going to Brookhaven was the most scared I have ever been in my entire lifetime. I was simply terrified. I just kept telling myself was that if Jacqueline was as genuinely as authentic as she was on the phone, everything was going to be "all right".
Much to my surprise everything was not just "all right" but my experience was more powerful, more revealing, and more monumental that I could have ever imagined.
The staff at Brookhaven is highly trained professionals and treats each client with respect, dignity, non-judgment and compassion. They also encouraged each client to recognize that they are in charge of their own healing journey. The staff creates a plan of action that has been designed specifically for each individual. Clients have tremendous support, not only from the staff, but also from the wonderful other clients at Brookhaven which I can only describe as a sisterhood.
Yes, it is hard work, but as I worked my plan, my thoughts, feelings, behaviors and actions began to change. I grew mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually stable and strong.
But one aspect about Brookhaven that did not seem to fit for me was the term used to address the amazing women who are brave enough to make the decision to seek help at Brookhaven. That term was "Client". Yes, it is an extremely professional term. Bur for me, I never felt like a client at Brookhaven, I felt like I was treated as a Guest in Jacqueline's home. Jacqueline and her amazing, talented staff make every decision concerning the accommodations, programs, the routines, the cuisine served, the art, the music, the rules: every aspect of the program has been thought out to have a direct impact on the guests' comfort, safety, growth and recovery.
My experience at Brookhaven not only changed my life forever: it saved my marriage, my relationship with my daughter and most of all my relationship with myself.
I often chuckle to myself about how scared I was the day I arrived at Brookhaven, because now I know that it was an honor and privilege to be there as a guest of Jacqueline's and so many other people that only wanted the best for me. I know now, that although I still have limitations from my stroke, I now have coping skills and am making good decisions by listening to my inner self and my wise mind when the waters of life get rough. At Brookhaven, I learned how to re-wire my brain to emotionally regulate my feelings and am now experiencing inner peace, laughter, joy, and calmness: all without antidepressants, sleep aids, "uppers", "downers" and alcohol.
I know this because I am living it everyday. I am truly blessed to have been a guest at Brookhaven.