STORIES OF HEALING
These are the stories of Nassau County neighbors who have recovered from mental health and substance use challenges.
We have altered their identities out of respect for these individuals and their families.
These are their stories of healing.
ELLIOT OVERCOMES BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CHALLENGES AND IS NOW A BUSINESS OWNER
Drug & Alcohol Misuse
Multiple Suicide Attempts
Commitment to Healing
It was 2002, and Elliot just moved to Nassau County from Philadelphia. After years of drugs, drinking and hospitalizations for suicide attempts, he made the decision to stop drinking. His first AA meeting was in a building across the street from Sutton Place (now Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare) and that is where he met Katrina Robinson-Wheeler, Starting Point’s Community Liaison and Trainer.
“I was in my late 20s just coming off drinking and drugs. I had been hospitalized for drugs and suicide attempts, even on respirators. I think it was five total suicide attempts. I was burnt out. Whatever she [Katrina] said, it just planted the seed."
Today, Elliot is a small business owner, a yoga instructor, life coach and a drummer. He is working toward becoming a professional speaker because he wants to share his life lessons with those who might be struggling with similar issues.
“I want to do something that is going to help somebody, I’ve come a long way. Schizoaffective disorder is my diagnosis. My doctor reminds me that most people with this disorder are very limited, and not doing as much as I am.
I re-learn over and over again that nothing outside of myself is going to make me happy. I’ve got to create my own contentment and focus more on what’s going on in the moment.
Of course, there are still times of challenge. I still have to force myself to get out of the bed early in the morning, I have to force myself to practice my drumming. But I do the best I can, and I’m ok with that.”
His first public speaking engagement is scheduled in the near future and his subject will be 'finding the beauty in the ordinary.'
“I want to talk about things that motivate and inspire people. As my business grows, I can talk about going from nothing to having a prosperous life. I am not there yet, but I am in a much better place because of recovery and I have a lot of tools that other people don’t have. I want to talk about that.
Not everybody has the capacity to start a business or do yoga, but these things can help. Not everybody has to be a super success, but everybody has the ability to do the best they can.”
JEREMY OVERCOMES RELATIONSHIP ISSUES AND IS ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED
Racing Thoughts that cause Confusion
Eager to Understand
Commitment to Healing
Acquired GED & Employed
Engaged to be Married
Adolescence can be a time of great change and rocky emotions for teens. When you add mental health problems to the mix, it can make growing up even harder. Jeremy knows all about that from experience. Jeremy changed his own outcome with the help of Tina Miller, his Starting Point therapist.
“When I first started going there, I was like 16 and I think I was at my worst mentally, so I just kind of dumped a lot of stuff on to her. Tina helped me a lot, helped me to understand some things. It didn’t take long for me to feel I could open up to her because she is casual, laid back. That’s the kind of energy I like in people. I just wanted somebody I could go to and talk about my problems like a friend rather than a therapist.”
Jeremy has problems with racing thoughts that often cause confusion.
“When I started, I had no desire for a future, I didn’t see that for me. I didn’t think I would graduate, ever be able to keep a job, I was having a lot of relationship problems and never thought I would actually find anybody. All that is different now.
I think one of the big reasons I’ve been able to progress and get better is thanks to Tina because I do almost see her as family now. I can just be myself when I go in there, she’s like that cool aunt you can go to whenever you have problems. Just being able to have someone I can go to and rant about things is just nice.
I now have a job that I like and I got my GED. I did find somebody, am engaged to be married, and mostly, thanks to him, I am actually seeing a future for myself. It did take quite a bit of time, but I am really proud of myself for how far I have come."
Jeremy and his partner are working and plan to attend school to become RNs. They plan to marry in April.
JASON RECOVERS FROM THREATS OF SUICIDE AND ADVISES OTHERS TO SEEK HELP
Threats of Self-Harm
Opening Up: Discussing the Problem
Self-Awareness & Communication
Commitment to Healing
Accepted Help & Found Relief
Learned Coping Mechanisms
Mental Health Advocate
Finding their son in a life-or-death crisis was a shock to Jason’s parents, Amy and Jonathan. Just 16, Jason seemed fine, even happy, during the vacation they had just returned from the day before. So imagine their distress when they received a call that he was threatening suicide.
Starting Point’s Mobile Response Team was called out by police responding to the emergency. Jason was threatening to harm himself and Katrina Robinson-Wheeler, the mental health professional on duty, arrived to assess the situation. The parents, Katrina, and Jason all met at the police station and that was the beginning of a transition in Jason’s life.
“I remember she [Katrina] was pretty open, she made me feel like I could be open. It was one of the first times I ever felt comfortable sharing how I was feeling. I was able to open up, and I feel like it definitely got me the help I needed. I had never been able to open up with anybody with those kinds of issues before.”
Jason was hospitalized for several days, then returned home to begin a therapy program. His Starting Point counselor, Katie Worley, met with him weekly at first, and now monthly.
Jason says the biggest change he recognized is that he has become more aware of his feelings and how they affect him. He has learned he can take action to cope with those feelings, instead of reacting. Jonathan, Jason’s dad, says the family has learned a great deal about communicating with one another.
“We have a ways to go, but when it comes to Jason, it is about making sure he’s safe and he’s making good decisions, growing and learning about the feelings he is having and how to understand those feelings. He needs to know that he can talk to someone and I am really thankful for Starting Point and Katie. I think she has related well to Jason”
Jason said his advice to friends in a similar situation is simple: open up to others.
“Even if it’s hard, even if you don’t want to. Everything gets so much better when you are accepting help. Don’t just stay in your own head, you really do need to get help.”