Well, today is my last day at Skyland Trail. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in the program for nearly three months. When I first checked in to the residential program, I was scared, confused, and had been in a rough manic episode for the past few months leading up to February.
When I arrived, I went through several assessments before joining the virtual group sessions while quarantining on the south campus. I had recently gone through a medication switch, and was still feeling out of sorts and not sure what was going on entirely. All I knew was that this was a step I had to take to get my mental health issues under control. I could barely focus on the sessions, and hardly make eye contact with the other attendees, much less participate or contribute to the group.
After a few days of quarantining and stabilizing, I moved to the Rollins campus, where I would be living with 30 other residents. From 10-4 we had group therapy and classes every day, where we would learn coping skills, more about our diagnoses, and participate in art, horticulture, recreational, and music therapy. It took about a week for my meds to balance me out, but I slowly started opening up and building trust with the other residents and group leaders. It was also nice to have a lot of structure over the day – meals cooked for me at specific times, the same schedule every day, limited free time really helped me feel calmer and more organized mentally. We also had recreational time where we could work on art projects, play video games, or participate in activities with the group.
Over the next month I developed some awesome relationships and learned some really helpful tools and techniques. I also had some really great conversations and fun times with my fellow residents. I enjoyed hearing others stories about why they were there. For the first time in my life, I felt so much less alone when it came to my mental health struggles. I found the community I had been longing for.
After a month in residential, I transitioned to the virtual program and moved back home. I had missed Marcus and Mila tremendously, and it was good to be back with familiar surroundings. The outpatient program was over zoom, and I was excited to see my friends that had graduated to IOP right before me, their familiar faces made the transition really easy.
I spent the 8 weeks on Zoom calls from 10-4, with 15 minute breaks on the hour. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone better, and participating in these groups I learned a ton about myself and others. The group leaders did an amazing job helping us build trust with each other, and really built a safe space where we could be open and vulnerable.
Today is my last day, and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned, how many amazing new friends I have, and how stable I feel. I can’t remember a time when I’ve felt this stable, calm, and just… happy. It makes me sad to know that next week I won’t be able to sign on and see all of the friendly faces I have grown to love, but luckily we started a few chat threads and a slack group, so I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with all of my new friends.
I’m so glad I made the choice to go through the program at Skyland – I know it has changed my life in so many positive ways, and I’m grateful for the experience and the chance to be a part of a community that I’ve been searching for a decade.