Photo of Sara smelling flowers

Elevating Voices: Sara

Dec 6, 2023

As we know here at Guild, mental health recovery is rarely linear. It’s more often a roller coaster of ups and downs, highs and lows, ebbs and flows. The same was true for our client Sara’s experience. 

Sara’s journey to Guild began with a difficult childhood marked by fear, trauma, and abuse. She didn’t begin speaking until she entered the first grade, instead communicating through her favorite childhood toy, a doll named ‘Zoo Baby.’

“I ​don’t ​think ​I ​honestly ​used ​my ​voice ​to ​advocate ​for ​what ​I ​really ​needed,” Sara said of her younger years. “I ​don’t ​think ​I ​knew ​how ​to put [my needs] ​into ​words.”

By eighth grade, Sara was self-harming to cope with the bullying she was experiencing at school and the unresolved trauma of her childhood years. She was deeply hurting emotionally, and didn’t know how to express that pain outside of hurting herself physically. She was admitted to a residential treatment center after she was caught self-harming while at school, and there Sara got psychiatric help for the first time. She entered adulthood feeling mentally stable and confident with the resources she’d developed during treatment.

“​I ​was ​taking ​my ​medications. ​I ​had ​friends! I ​felt ​like ​​the ​best ​I’ve ​been,” she said.

However, after leaving her partner in 2010, Sara found herself with no self-identity or individual autonomy and began struggling with her mental stability.

“I didn’t know who I was, because I was told all these things that weren’t true [by my ex-partner]: that I was a horrible person, that my family hated me, that I would never be able to survive without this person,” Sara says. “I hated that time of my life … I’m like, ‘I’m just going to be alone the rest of my life, because I don’t trust myself. I’ve lost trust in myself.’”

Sara re-entered psychiatric treatment to stabilize her mental health once again, but she still struggled day to day once she was out of the hospital and back on her own. That’s when Sara found Guild.

“​​The ​staff ​was ​amazing,” she says of discovering Guild in 2014. “They ​talked ​me ​through ​things. ​They ​told ​me, ‘This ​is ​going ​to ​be ​okay. ​Don’t ​look ​in ​the ​rearview ​mirror. That ​is ​behind ​you. ​Everything ​that’s ​happening ​now ​is ​behind ​you.’ ​There ​was ​no ​judgment. ​I ​could ​come ​in ​on ​some ​of ​my ​worst ​days, ​crying, ​and ​I ​was ​never ​judged. ​I ​was ​just ​talked ​to, ​and ​we ​talked ​through ​it, ​and ​there ​was ​just ​never ​any ​judgment. That was huge to me.”

Sara credits Guild with setting her up for emotional and mental success, and with giving her the tools and resources she needed to get back out into the world.

Guild ​gave ​me ​skills ​that ​made ​me ​confident ​that ​I ​could ​try ​this ​on ​my ​own,” Sara said. “But they also ​told ​me ​that ​if I ​ever ​need ​them ​again, ​their ​door ​is ​always ​open. ​I ​can come ​back ​any time. ​And ​that ​was ​comforting, ​knowing ​that ​I don’t ​have ​to ​do ​this ​alone. I ​can ​try ​it, ​but ​if ​it ​doesn’t ​work, ​I ​have ​people.”

When the time came in 2022 for Sara to share her experience with her city council to support the building of a new crisis and recovery center, she finally found the voice that had eluded her when she was a child. 

“I ​honestly ​feel ​like ​I ​couldn’t ​have ​done ​that ​without ​Guild, ​because ​they ​were ​all ​there ​that ​night ​being ​like, ​’You ​can ​do ​this,’” Sara said. 

We work with people at all stages of their mental health journey. When you donate to Guild, you invest in our clients’ futures — clients like Sara. Please consider giving today.