Where to begin? A myriad of pain that lead our daughter to making the decision to enter The Watershed and seriously address her addiction and her mental health issues. There were years of hospitalizations, outpatient therapy and ECT treatments. There were suicide attempts that brought her to the brink of death and us to the desperation of despair. Medications tried and failed. Eating disorders that compromised her health but allowed her some semblance of control, however fleeting. Multiple relapses that fortunately did not end in arrests, convictions or those life situations that cost her life or the life of others. Disastrous relationships that put her at risk and caused immeasurable pain as she sought to distract herself from the agony of day to day living. Fractured family relationships that were characterized by screaming out of control episodes self-harm and mistrust on all of our parts. Living together allowed us to feel that when at home she was safe but not knowing when the next phone call would end that momentary comfort.
To her credit she shared with us that despite the 12 step programs, sponsors and desperate wish to be clean and sober she relapsed again and again. I knew she needed a higher level of care and insisted that she seek a rehabilitation program. Insurance challenged that decision because she had not been in an IOP program. She persevered and advocated for herself and made the arrangements to travel to The Watershed where she was accepted for treatment. There were mixed feelings on our part, as we knew that many entered rehabilitation centers multiple times without success, but we were all desperate and willing to hope yet again. We knew that our daughter was a beautiful human being that was intelligent, strong willed and determined and hoped that these attributes would see her through. It did.
Her experience at The Watershed was phenomenal on many levels. For the first time in a decade the medication prescribed there, worked. She had been to many psychiatrists and hospitals but the medications previously prescribed never worked for long. I remember her telling me that she felt for the first time she could think clearly and that she had hope that life would change. There were therapists there that helped her understand her eating disorder and her need for control and she was able to begin to nourish herself in a way that was sound and healthful. She began to understand the dynamics of addiction and moved forward with renewed hope and energy. When she returned home she continued to struggle as she maintained her recovery but the tools that she gained allowed her to attend meetings, build renewed relationships with her support systems, and to honestly ask for help as needed. She was fortunate in that she had a strong loving sponsor and was able to build the foundation for other trusting relationships.
Family members of those who are addicted can read between the lines and know that this brief description is but the tip of the iceberg in terms of the pain that our daughter and our family has experienced.
Today she is married to a man who loves her and respects her and she has given birth to a child whom she loves with all her heart. She continues to work her program and values her sponsor, and in turn sponsors others as a way of giving back. She has been able to pursue her artistic pursuits and has won recognition for her work. She has changed fields and when she chooses to work, she finds employment that is satisfying and rewarding. There are times when she struggles but she is able to reach out when she needs help. She has just celebrated her 7th year of sobriety.
She has worked so hard and continues to inspire me as I remember her dedication in attending as many as three meetings a day, when needed, sitting at the dining room table doing her step work and spending hours with her sponsor and her network of support. It is gratifying to see that all of her work and dedication contribute to creating a good life has paid off in so many ways. I feel so fortunate to bear witness to her grace and achievements. I have learned so much from her.
It is my wish that those of us who love someone who is struggling, know that no matter how dark it seems, there is hope. For us The Watershed was that beacon of light that showed us the way out of the darkness and we are forever grateful.