Thu, 30 Jun 2011 08:09:17 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb My Miraculous Recovery at Brookhaven Retreat

My story begins in 1961. As a child I received the normal vaccinations that children receive. One of them was the measles vaccination. Shortly after having the vaccine my right eyelid began to droop. They told my mother I had a “cold in my eye.” I was not born with this drooping eyelid. When I was 13 I had surgery to tie the muscle in my eye so it would not droop anymore. To this day, if I look down my eyelid stays open. It caused me great teasing at school and affected my confidence and self-esteem.

In 1979 I had to have an MMR vaccine for entrance to Auburn University and had no problem with it. In 1989 there was a measles outbreak at Auburn and my sister was attending the University. My overprotective mother, who is now deceased, insisted I receive the measles shot. Being the “good daughter” I went to get the measles shot at the same practice I had received my first measles shot as an infant. In other words, they could have looked at my file and told me I did not need another measles shot. Within a day, I developed a rash on my arm, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and could hardly walk. After days of trying to figure out what was wrong with me, they diagnosed me with post vaccinal autoimmune brainstem encephalopathy. Basically my brain had swelled and my immune system was compromised. They put me on steroids immediately which probably saved my life. After neuropsychological testing, I was sent to a Neurologist in Anniston, Alabama who put me on Paxil and Klonopin. This was the start of my depression and anxiety cycle. They told me I was one in a million to react to a measles shot and that I did not produce serotonin in my brain anymore and would be on antidepressants the rest of my life. Not only that, but I had short term memory loss and ADD.


In the early 2000’s I applied for assistance from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program through the federal government. I was awarded $100,000. That may sound like a lot, but over a lifetime it was a drop in the bucket. Since 1989 I have spent thousands of dollars on psychiatrists and psychologists and written myself reminder notes to remember things. I have been hospitalized 4 times for major depression and have attempted suicide twice.

My last major depression was in the winter of 2010 and 2011. Out of desperation, my husband, sister and psychiatrist found a women’s recovery center in Seymour, Tennessee called Brookhaven Retreat. I went kicking and screaming and spent 2 months there. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I wanted to give up on myself and quit. Just give up!!! But, the dedicated counselor would not give up on me. Through a good talking to and medication changes from a phenomenal psychiatrist, I started seeing the tables turn. I could not concentrate on things and my short term memory was terrible. I had had ECT 7 times prior, which affects your short term memory as well. The psychiatrist ordered neuropsychological testing again and it showed 20-25% short term memory loss and an IQ of 80. This was very upsetting and the rest of the report was pretty dismal.

They attributed my low scores to the encephalitis I had suffered in 1989 and to the recent ECT’s I had received. The Doctor who administered the test suggested I be put on a low dose of Aricept (5 mg.) It was like a light bulb was turned on. I feel better than I've felt in 22 years. My short term memory is better. My cognition is faster and my depression is gone. I have a zest for life like I've never had before. It’s miraculous! Along with the medications, I was given intense group therapy sessions, multiple self-help classes, life application lessons and tons of love and understanding from the 40+ employees at Brookhaven. It is a loving facility where every staff member smiles and has a hug for you. NO ONE was going to give up on pulling me out of my depression. I will be forever grateful to Jacqueline Dawes for creating such a wonderful program and employing such dedicated and top notch employees. I left there dancing and singing and plan to do so for the rest of my life. Brookhaven Retreat saved my life and gave me back my life I lost in 1989 and more. I may experience depression again, but I've been given tools and learned techniques to help keep it from taking me under. Thank you Brookhaven and Jacqueline Dawes for giving me my life back.

]]> Success Stories Wed, 23 Mar 2011 21:22:09 +0000 I grew mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually stable and strong I was 42 years old when I was sitting on my couch with my daughter and suffered a stroke. I was fortunate enough to have been at home when my stroke occurred so I was able to get medical help immediately. However, I did lose my ability to speak, the use of the right side of my body was limited, I suffer short -term memory loss and the loss of my peripheral vision.

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.

]]> Success Stories Mon, 13 Dec 2010 00:42:14 +0000 I am strong, smart, capable and beautiful As a child I was filled with so much life. I was confident, driven, energetic and happy. My world was full of love and laughter. By 25 years of age, I had lost almost all of my childhood gifts and life seemed to be leaving me behind. I rarely got out of bed and simple tasks such as showering took more energy than I had. I had no job, no direction, and little interest in things that used to give me pleasure. The relationships I was in at the time was emotionally abusive yet I couldn't find the strength to walk away. The only thing I felt could comfort me was an even more dangerous relationship than the one with my boyfriend. Alcohol had become a serious problem for me.

One day I received a call from my mother regarding something she found on the Internet. My mother was always searching for help for me and I have never been receptive to her efforts until I learned about Brookhaven. Less than two days later I was on a flight to Tennessee.

Brookhaven Retreat is a spectacular place. The women here are non-judgemental, kind, and amazingly supportive. I have never trusted anyone like I trust my Brookhaven sisters. The staff is very attentive and friendly. My therapist here is the best therapist I have ever had (and I have had a few). Individual and group therapy has been incredibly helpful. In all groups I have learned helpful tools and developed skills that help me overcome obstacles and get through every day. I have learned to regulate my emotions, ways to manage my time and efforts, how to have healthy relationships, how to lead a happy life, and so much more. In the time that I have been here, I have been happier, less anxious, my relationship with my family has improved dramatically, I have not craved alcohol, I am productive and motivated, and generally feel fantastic. I will be eternally grateful for the care I received at Brookhaven and would encourage anyone to give it a chance because it has truly changed my life. I am excited to finally start living the life I dreamed about because I know today that I am strong, smart, capable and beautiful just the way I am. Brookhaven has helped me realize that.

]]> Success Stories Wed, 17 Feb 2010 23:20:10 +0000 The sky is the limit and I am the pilot! Thank you, Jacqueline and staff for the guidance and help that I have received during my stay here at Brookhaven. You have shown me that I have the strength to live for the first time in my life. That I am also truly worthy to live my own life has been a great discovery. I now have a wonderful future to look forward to with my daughter and husband and no longer dread it because I know I am in control. The sky is the limit and I am the pilot! The skills I have learned while here I will also be able to share with my daughter and husband. Thank you again for giving me my life back!
]]> Success Stories Mon, 13 Dec 2010 14:41:47 +0000 I am a completely different person After being in treatment for almost four months, I can honestly say that I am a completely different person than I was when I walked into the glass-paneled doors of my treatment center. I have learned not to define myself by labels or diagnosis or even by the thought and feelings of others. I've learned to accept myself for exactly who I am-a perfectly imperfect individual. I now know what it is like to love myself and to respect the person that I am becoming. I have had to scrutinize every aspect of my behavior and of my life, and have admitted many truths about myself and have come through it with willingness and consequently strength. I have changed many things about myself but one of the biggest differences is my decision to live my life sober and free of all drugs and alcohol. I am immensely grateful to have made this choice to simply start living my life instead of watching it drive by. As just a 20 year old young adult, this may seem like a big task and one that will be very difficult to prove in a college environment. Though this may seem like an impossible task, I have courage, faith, and hope in myself. I know in my heart that going to treatment saved my relationships, my relationship with my higher power and my life.
]]> Success Stories Sun, 10 Oct 2010 01:47:31 +0000 I am able to hold my head high and conquer the world Thank you so much for all of your amazing insight in poncho. Brookhaven is such a wonderful, healing, nurturing place for women. I feel now that I am able to hold my head high and conquer the world. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this enlightening, empowering experience that I will never forget.

Thank you for all you do for women.

]]> Success Stories Fri, 17 Dec 2010 22:35:14 +0000 BHR gave me incredible hope and a passion for life I would like to thank everyone very much for the opportunity to have a safe, educational place to become a whole person.

I have learned self-respect, courage and patience

I believe the staff and clients saved my life and my future. Also of course, I have done the same myself.

For the first time I feel grounded.

I realize I was only here thirty days, but I feel that if you really want the program to work, you must work the program. The classes hit every angle of my life, physical, mental and spiritual.

When I first arrived I had no hope. BHR gave me incredible hope and a passion for life, a SOBER Life. As for my after care, I will be attending three classes a week for eight weeks, starting next Tues. I know in my heart there is no way to promise I'll never take a drink again, but for now I do not see it in my future.

I still have and probably always will struggle with my self-esteem. It's slowly moving up. I have come to the realization that I must set boundaries with my sisters in order to move on.

I would like to give much gratitude to everyone at Brookhaven Retreat.

]]> Success Stories Fri, 17 Dec 2010 22:47:09 +0000 I was able to gain a positive perspective and new direction

I was fortunate to have found Brookhaven Retreat at a pivotal point in my life. Having been to treatment twice before for substance abuse, I came with some reservations as to how this time would be different. Through the experience and guidance of Jacqueline and my primary therapist I was able to gain a positive perspective and new direction in my life. While I still face obstacles, my time at Brookhaven has given me the tools necessary to cope with the challenges that lay ahead.

]]> Success Stories Wed, 23 Mar 2011 21:18:29 +0000 Brookhaven has helped me so much This thank you note is long overdue. I wanted to thank you for the incredible program that you have put together. Brookhaven has helped me so much. It was truly a privilege to meet and work with you and your staff.

Thank you so much for arranging visits with "J" and "B" for me. That was very kind and encouraging. Please give them my love.

My journey is naturally still in progress. I haven't had any real mania and have been very stable which is good. I'm still fighting depression, but I've had some very normal, happy times. I have good doctors and an excellent therapist.

May all continue to go well for you in your important work.

]]> Success Stories Fri, 17 Dec 2010 22:44:04 +0000 I did not realize how emotionally broke I was When I came to Brookhaven I did not realize how emotionally broke I was. I was scared, angry, confused, depressed and basically lost. Whether you know it or not, believe it or not, you have already had an emotional crash before you arrive here, either by choice or through an intervention.

However, I learned in time (90 days) coping skils and was given tools to use to learn to become emotionally regulated. I will be able to use these tools to teach others when I leave here and get home to help those understand how I am healthier, happier and self-empowered. I will be able to help my family and friends understand how I am now compared to how I was before and who I have become while I have spent my time here at Brookhaven.

Also, by coming to Brookhaven you have already taken the greatest step of courage and the most difficult one towards beginning your healing process.

Brookhaven, by far, is the most elite emotional finishing school. It is a dual-diagnosis recovery center for women only. It is here that you will be helped by a phenomenal, well-trained staff that will help you, guide you and support you through your healing process. You will be given your own individualized treatment plan designed specifically for your needs and goals to help you through this process.

While you are here, you will have to examine yourself which is the hardest examination of all. If you don't examine yourself, you can't find yourself. Be truthful, be honest. Truth and honesty equals freedom.

You come to Brookhaven to raise yourself to a higher level. You will come to a leveling that is right for you. It does take time to do this. Use your time wisely here. You will reach a maturity level which will allow you to have more clarity. You will learn to create credibility here.

There is so much to learn about yourself here. You will also learn self-care, self-respect, self-acceptance, emotional regulation, trust, self-safety which leads to emotional safety. You will learn self-love and gain strength. You will learn to be your own individual and gain confidence in yourself. This is self-empowerment! Self-empowerment is the key to own yourself. You will learn to own your decisions and be good with those decisions and by doing this, as well, is empowerment.

You will also learn to set healthy boundaries and how to have healthy relationships. You will learn to become emotionally whole. It will take patience, endurance and tenacity to do this. You will discover your own identity and what you stand for.

When it is your time to leave Brookhaven, not only do they take extremely good care of you while you are here, they will help you prepare and give to you an aftercare discharge summary, so you will always have a safety net.

You will reach an understanding that you will live recovery everyday. You will need emotional maintenance – it will be a way of life forever. Emotional maintenance is continued growth. You will get this through your support groups, therapists and doctors you work with when you reach home.

Brookhaven will only become a gift when you allow it to be a gift. It truly was a gift to me to be able to receive great support through the staff who works endlessly to make sure you stay on that right path.

Most of all, I have been truly blessed to have met and come to know Jacqueline Dawes. She is the most empowered woman I know and will ever know. She pours her heart and soul into this facility and making sure the women at Brookhaven are treated well and kept safe. She has poured her whole life into creating this beautiful, serene, tranquil recovery center for women. She truly gave a wonderful gift to us who are fortunate to be here when you meet Jacqueline, you will know what I mean and how special she truly is.

I am grateful especially to my therapist and Jacqueline for helping me to find myself and a way to continue on a healthy, happy healing journey. Brookhaven has a wonderful community of women who offer a great amount of support, kindness and warmth. There is truly no better place to be: BROOKHAVEN HEAVEN FOR FEMALES

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