Elevating Voices: Abby

Feb 9, 2023

When a recent mental health diagnosis is met with a grief experience that would leave anyone reeling, finding stable footing and a way to move forward can be challenging. That’s what happened to Abby, a Guild client who received treatment at our Crisis and Recovery Center in Savage. 

Like many of our clients, Abby’s mental illness symptoms showed up at a young age. Abby shared with us, “Ever since I was a young girl, I knew I was different. I have always felt some sort of sadness in me. When I was 16 would be the first time I attempted suicide.” 

As a young woman, Abby was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a mental illness defined by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms like hallucinations or delusions and mood disorder symptoms like depression or mania. But despite the challenges of dealing with a new diagnosis, Abby started to make progress until her mom was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. “I went home, and I spent the last week of her life by her side, and I held her hand as she passed away,” Abby told us about the life-altering event. 

After her mom’s passing, Abby got a job during the COVID-19 pandemic, with all the added stresses of the pandemic on Abby’s life at home and work. Struggling through the stress and the grief, Abby explained how things got worse. “It was stressful. I hated my life at that point. I felt worthless and the voices were taunting me, telling me, ‘what’s the point of living?’” Another suicide attempt and hospitalization followed.

Abby’s social worker searched high and low for a safe place to send Abby after her inpatient hospitalization. The worker found an opening much closer to home than the hospital, at Guild Crisis and Recovery Center, a therapeutically-designed center that works to stabilize and treat people in Abby’s position, often after hospitalization. 

While entering the center, Abby was less than hopeful. After attending many treatment programs over the years, she doubted this time would be any different or better. She remarked, “Nothing helped before. Why was this going to help?” But the day of her arrival, Abby met Loni, a Guild staff member who reached out with genuine care and interest that, indeed, felt different. 

“So Abby was special,” Loni shared, “When she came in, she was pretty shy, kind of to herself. And to watch her transform in the short time she was here — it was remarkable. “We learned she has a very infectious laugh. She just brings a smile to your face.” 

It was interactions with Guild staff, like Loni, that made Abby start to feel more connected to others. When staff played an “off-tone” rendition of My Heart Will Go On from the movie Titanic, Abby found it especially funny, and that’s when things really changed for her. About this moment, she said, “That was when I felt like I connected with everybody, like I could be myself. I wasn’t ashamed of who I was no more… And that people do want to help me, that people do care about me, that people do like me.” 

The relationships that form in healing settings, like CRC, are as transformational as any information, new skill, or coping mechanism covered in the program. In fact, much of the information in the program was material Abby had heard before at other treatment centers, but at Guild, Abby said, “They were able to tell it to me in a way that I haven’t heard before, in a way that I could connect more with, and that’s when it really started to click.” 

Abby left CRC a transformed person, more connected, less ashamed, and more comfortable in her own skin and self. At Guild, we know that recovery is not a linear process. And Abby knows “that if I ever would struggle again with my mental health diagnoses, that I could come here. Because this was a place that really changed my life.”

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