When she was just 11 years old, Dawn suffered a tragic loss – her dad died of suicide. Already an anxious child, the traumatic event disrupted everything in her world. She didn’t know how to handle it, and her mom didn’t provide much support, so Dawn learned to hide her feelings and go on. However, by the time she was 30, she had spent years hiding the anxiety and depression that suffocated her, and she couldn’t do it anymore. She found herself in a very dark place, unable to even leave the house.
“I was miserable,” said Dawn. “I didn’t want to get up or do anything. I had no motivation and nothing to look forward to. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, but finally, I couldn’t mask it anymore.”
One night, in August 2016, Dawn finally gathered up the courage to reach out and admit that she needed help – now! In desperation, she stayed up all night calling facility after facility, trying to get into an inpatient unit. However, since her condition wasn’t immediately life threatening, none would take her. The next day, she called Rogers Behavioral Health in Appleton and was soon admitted to its partial hospitalization program (PHP). There, Dawn received therapy five days a week, six hours a day, returning home in the evenings. She also received something that had been missing most of her life – a support network.
“I was so lost when I came to Rogers,” Dawn remembered. “Previously, I had to fight through everything myself. This was the first time I was in a group setting and realized I wasn’t alone. My treatment team gave me the tools to be successful, but I had to do the work.” After six weeks in the PHP program, Dawn was well enough to step down to the intensive outpatient program (IOP), which met for four days a week, three hours a day. Four weeks later, she was ready to leave the program. With hope and determination, she was eager to start this new chapter of life.
But, Dawn soon realized that this new chapter wouldn’t come without a few struggles of its own. Here’s how Dawn explained what happened next:
“When I started treatment, my insurance deductible and out-of-pocket maximum had not been met. Mid-way through is when my insurance finally started paying in full, but by then, I already had a sizable debt! It was about the same time as I completed the program when the bills started rolling in. At that point, I did not have a job at all. My boyfriend’s income covered what we needed to survive each month, but it didn’t leave any extra. I had no choice but to call Rogers and set up a payment plan.
A few weeks went by when I was talking with one of my counselors at Rogers. I happened to mention my financial situation to him. He told me there was a possibility I would qualify for a grant from the Foundation, and he asked me complete the necessary paperwork.
About two weeks later, I received an email telling me I got the grant, and that the Foundation would take care of the full outstanding balance. I honestly broke down in tears. To us, only having one income and already struggling before treatment, it made such an impact to our financial situation. Without this grant, we would have had to figure out what else to cut out of our living costs to make ends meet, and it would have taken me several years to pay it off.
This grant is something I could never thank Rogers Foundation enough for! It may seem small to someone else, but to me this was a huge blessing and helped me out more than they will ever know.”
Today, Dawn sees an outpatient counselor once a month and sometimes more often when things come up. She accepts that anxiety and depression “run in her family,” and she will have to manage them for the rest of her life, but she’s grateful she has tools, like journaling and mindfulness exercises, to get her through rough times.
“Keeping my mind in the present moment is a big one for me,” Dawn explained. “Even while brushing my teeth, I’m noticing the texture of the toothpaste.”
Another key thing she learned from her Rogers’ treatment team was that it’s normal to have up and down days. “They would tell me, ‘It’s okay to have bad days and even bad weeks, but don’t unpack and stay there.’”
When asked what she would tell others who are grappling with depression or anxiety, Dawn said simply: “You are not alone. Treatment is not easy, but it’s so worth it in the end.”
Dawn now leaves her house every day, balancing a full-time job with college courses to become a child psychologist. She believes her traumatic childhood has prepared her to help kids who face some of the same struggles she has. And in the midst of this very full life, Dawn continues to reach out to her support network, including her Rogers’ treatment team.
“I can’t speak highly enough about Rogers,” concluded Dawn. “I would love my story to inspire someone else because it’s absolutely life changing once you ask for help.”