This blog is an interview with a young woman, Grace Renee *, who describes where she was, where she is going and what she wish she would have been told. It is part of a series that All Kinds of Therapy is doing to hear from teens and young adults who have been to treatment and are in the “real world” now.
Because there are specialized treatments following various psychotherapeutic models for young adults, and with many levels of treatment, the nuance of a placement can not come through; this blog only tells where this young person went and where they are off to now in their life as she tackles it with her news skills outside of her family’s home or school.
AKoT: Where were you a year ago (or more)?
G.R.: A year ago, I had just gotten out of an IOP [Intensive Outpatient Program] for OCD treatment. I was feeling ok about getting myself back into a local university with the support of a psychiatrist and counselor, but could never take the plunge and send in that application. I wanted so badly to get back into school, but I was completely paralyzed by anxiety and it felt impossible to get there.
I just couldn’t get used to the fact that I would probably deal with anxiety my whole life. It was just figuring out how I would contain it and live with.
AKoT: What has been the largest change in your life?
G.R.: It feels ridiculous to say it now, but just leaving the house every morning feels like such a huge change. I couldn’t even go out and do menial tasks or make a phone call without feeling incredibly anxious or self conscious. Now, I go out to the grocery store and don’t even think twice about people staring or judging me.
AKoT: What do you attribute that change to?
G.R.: My biggest coping mechanisms were avoiding, shopping, and isolation. Being pushed a little, but not forcefully so I would basically say people checking up on me and not letting me fall back into those bad habits. I was constantly being encouraged or receiving resources to get me outside. Having a safe environment, [like Onward Transitions] and feeling comfortable was also a huge part of overcoming social anxiety.
AKoT: Where do you want to be in 5 years?
G.R.: I would like to have completed some school but I’m trying to not limit myself to undergraduate and just see what happens. Tapering off of medication and only doing light therapy would be optimal. I think just living life without feeling like I can’t do everything I want because I’m someone with anxiety.
AKoT: What has been the hardest part of your path to treatment?
G.R.: Initially coming home from school and realizing that I was crazily anxious. Coming to Onward Transitions was also really hard because starting new things felt impossible. Also owning what I’m working on, accepting, and making it my own, instead of just saying things I don’t actually mean.
AKoT: What would you tell a friend who is 18 + and looking at changing their negative patterns?
G.R.: You’re going to live with whatever your issues may be, but you’ll find ways to cope and live with them. You don’t have to be what you think is a “normal” person. Avoidance and isolation is not the answer… reach out for help.
AKoT: Thank you for sharing your experiences. Your insight about your process of what you need is palatable and empowering to hear. What do you wish someone had said to you about going to treatment?
G.R.: Again, reach out to someone you feel comfortable with. Those around you might not know you’re feeling that way. Once you’ve talked about it with someone, being open to therapy. If you do choose to go that route, then commit to it and see it as an opportunity. Do it now before it haunts you your whole life.
About the Author
Gracee Renee* has transitioned from the full support of the Pine House at Onward Transitions in Portland, Maine and has stepped down to their part-time Neighbors Program. She is currently in a 600 hour Classical Pilates Teacher Training program and working as an Assistant Buyer at a local athletic wear boutique. She plans to attend full time school in the spring along with teaching pilates and taking on more responsibilities at the store. Gracee loves to do anything active or be in the kitchen baking a new recipe.
* Name changed to protect privacy.