Woman feels her life is just beginning after receiving therapy at Day One

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Sick, broke and in jail, Sylvia was in a dire situation.

Sylvia’s financial struggles had become insurmountable following a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. She eventually was unable to continue working as a hospital administrator, forcing her to take a minimum wage retail job and file for bankruptcy for the second time in her life.

Every day, from the time the Rochester Hills woman woke up to the time she went to bed, she was in pain. To ease the pain, she drank alcohol. It was a coping mechanism she had used on and off for 25 years to deal with life struggles. One evening in July 2018, she got behind the wheel of her car after having a few drinks at a friend’s house and ended up in jail for 30 days on a drunken driving charge. It was Sylvia’s third drunken driving arrest; her first occurred in 2004 and the second in 2011. As part of her most recent sentencing, the 69-year-old was ordered to seek therapy.

“When I was in jail, I was absolutely petrified and kept asking myself how this happened,” she recalled. “How did I allow this to happen? What is wrong with me to take such a risk? Before this happened, I had gone seven years without drinking.”

Through treatment at Day One, Sylvia was able to get some answers.

She learned she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from abuse she experienced from her parents while growing up. In addition, Crohn’s disease led to her experiencing anxiety and depression. And, after her husband was unfaithful to her several times, she had divorced him and endured the stress of raising four children as a single parent.

“If it weren’t for finding Day One and going to group therapy, I wouldn’t have seen the impact of what had happened in my life or been given the knowledge and the insight into what my problems were -- the abuse by my dad, abuse by my husband, abuse by my mother,” she explained. “I wouldn’t have put it all together. I thought it was all my fault, that I was a bad person and wasn’t worthy of love. I had forgotten there was a good person in who I was, and kindness. I have something to give.”

Day One gives me hope for a future that I never knew was possible. I’m so glad I found the reason for why things happened the way they did in my life, and I don’t want to carry these burdens on me for the rest of my life. These situations that happened don’t define me as a person. There are so many opportunities out there for me and, in a way, I feel my life is just beginning.

Although her therapy was court ordered, Sylvia describes it as a blessing.

“I’m in my late 60s and it’s never too late, that’s my message,” she said. “Don’t wait. I had many counselors before this, but Michelle helped me put it all into place.”

Day One Behavioral Health Clinician Michelle Harris said Sylvia is making great progress in her ability to cope with situations and think about things before she makes decisions, and is getting back to focusing on herself and her own well-being.

“Sylvia’s history has been such that she was often stuck in a permanent state of fight-or-flight anxiety,” Harris said. “This was apparent in many areas of her life and has impacted her decision making throughout her life. Due to this, she has ended up in some situations that have been less than ideal for her and her family. Her therapy is leading to overall decreased anxiety and panic with improved mood and choices.”

For the first time in Sylvia’s life, she feels she is in a good place and has a lot to offer.

“Day One gives me hope for a future that I never knew was possible,” she said. “I’m so glad I found the reason for why things happened the way they did in my life, and I don’t want to carry these burdens on me for the rest of my life. These situations that happened don’t define me as a person. There are so many opportunities out there for me and, in a way, I feel my life is just beginning.”

You can help provide hope and healing to our clients by making a donation. Day One, a program of Oakland Family Services, provides mental health and substance abuse treatment for more than 2,300 people every year.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, contact Day One.