Forward, Not Backward, Upward, Not Forward…

The future for me has been a tricky subject for me since January. When I tried to kill myself, I obviously didn’t think I was going to have a future. Ever since, though, things have seemed very up in the air. For the month after my hospital stay, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know if I would be going back to school or not, getting a job or not, going to treatment or not. 

In February, I knew that I was going to Menninger, but while I was there at Menninger, I didn’t think about the future much. Mostly, I was very focused on my treatment, so I didn’t want to think too far into the future; some of the other people on my unit spent a lot of time thinking about the future, sometimes to the point of scheduling the exact date of their discharge far in advance, and it really got in the way of their treatment. It wasn’t until my 6th or 7th week that my team and I even thought about what or where I would be going or doing after the clinic.

When we did start thinking about what would be next, I never even considered a step-down program; I had just assumed I would be going directly back to St. Louis. When we did start talking about it, I was initially resistant to the idea, because I didn’t know if I would want to be spending several more months in treatment. After talking things over with my sister who is going into social work, though, I began rethinking my future. I looked into several step-down programs, and eventually decided that going to a step-down would be a good next step for me.

Coming to the step-down proved to be a good idea, especially since I was reunited with a number of friends from Menninger – at least one of whom is currently one of my closest friends. The independence provided by living in an apartment was a vast improvement over the close, constantly surveilled quarters of the clinic. The groups were both more relaxed and more involved, and I think I’ve gotten a lot from them. And one of the most important things is the focus on a meaningful role – something I can go on to after leaving the step-down.

For a long time, I have been assuming that once I returned to St. Louis, I would, of course, be returning to school to finish my PhD. But after coming to the step-down,I am coming to realize that maybe that isn’t the best path for me. There are a lot of areas that, after having been in academia for so long, I have never even considered for a career – editing, website content writing, teaching at a high school or community college, or even becoming a mental health advocate. Now that I find myself looking into them, I wonder whether getting my PhD is the right direction for me to go.

Many of these things are things that it would be easy to accomplish in Houston, because it is a much bigger city. Also, since a number of people I know are already here, or planning to stay here for some time, I have a somewhat built-in support network, something I don’t have much of in St. Louis aside from my parents. There are plenty of support groups in the area, as well, for continued therapy after I leave the step-down. Also, I know that the gaming population in Houston is much more active than the one in St. Louis. The summer weather isn’t my favorite, since I’m a cold weather person, but it is something I would certainly endure to be around friends..

So there are a lot of reasons for me to stay in Houston. And in St. Louis? Well, my parents are there, which would be cool, but I have been living with them for quite some time; independence is a nice idea. Obviously, my school is there, and St. Louis University is one of the few schools with a good medieval studies program. There are some people there I like, but I’ve never really taken the opportunity to go out and do anything with them. The gaming community in St. Louis has something I’ve never really made much contact with, either. School is the biggest reason for me to stay, and if I’m not sure about that, it’s not a very good reason.

I’ll be going back to St. Louis for a few days soon, and it is likely that then is when I will be figuring out whether I return to St. Louis or stay in Houston. So my future is very much up in the air at this point. It makes me kind of nervous, and likely only moreso as the trip comes closer.It’s one of many issues about my future that is up in the air now, and it is on my mind a lot. If you have any thoughts, let me know; I could sure use the input.


6 comments on “Forward, Not Backward, Upward, Not Forward…

  1. Laurel says:

    Sounds like you have a lot to think about. My entire life is up in the air now. I can’t help but think though that gratefully we are now in a better, clearer place to be making these decisions, and from a wiser mind than pre-Menninger for sure. You have an excellent head on your shoulders, and I am confident you will make the best choice after careful consideration.

    • Well, at least one of us is confident in my decision-making abilities. The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that remaining her might be the best move for me, but I won’t make a concrete decision one way or the other until I visit St. Louis again.

  2. Gothamsanity says:

    I was recommended to Columbia Day Out Patient or Menninger in Houston. I was attracted to a complete program inc DBT, CBT, Mentalization, Self Agency, a great campus etc…admissions spoke of Shame Resiliency in PIC professionals in crisis. There are passionate really caring people there like Mr. Levy, Noblet csw, some are just working as hard as your / your family’s commitment, they attach to the star pupils, the Mennniger Alumni. None of these like Dr. Harvey, with relative empathy, can guarantee that a $60,000 – $ 80,000 bill in 10-12 weeks will have the expected impact (unless stabilization / intervention was #1) dual diagnosis, anxiety, are great as mileau offers much empathy, especially if CD and you get Berry Wall as your Counselor or Director or most willing to listen in the Hope Program, the guy cares, stays in touch w favorites, have great life experience which is 1/3, many years CD experience and he has the best character there.

    Many people spend many weeks, CD specifically, looking at step down programs, they have at least ten, stapled together on Hope Unit Nurse’s Station (CPAs Nurses are 300% better from my experience) there are 4 at Hope that are just so consistently great. Donna Lamb, loves her schedule, eating lunch next to the pool, she is very knowlegable, she drives the points home, presents in group, but I never felt safe with her or empathy as I am treated by a mostly addicition mileau, the Dr, Harvey is not in tune with either one of my diagnosed, no bed side manner, then Lamb is abrupt expects fast cognitive progress in 6 weeks and starved of ADD/ADHD medication I gave the one week for discharge. Went thru twenty treatment centers. Lamb only would refer me to two places both heavy on schizophrenic, one near 50%, which means mileau laden w permanently disabled.

    That was clearly out. Lamb / Harvey had my family convinced of Renaissance Healthcare LLC – Pasadena Villa of Orlando and Tennessee. I was not. Hardest eight months. My family too old to get involved with family therapy or visit.I saw many kids, dual diagnosis, Aspergers Syndrome, Social Anxiety, schizo affective do great there with parents young and supportive, knowledgeable, generous allowances, especially with mileau 80% less than 23 years old; but for me much older I needed pyschodynamic therapy.

    I got Vicki Wilkerson, “Head Therapist” for 130 days, I felt treated worse than clients with active families, when I said the groups were not reinforcing Mennniger material (they had six, yes, six Menninger clients, an axis?) They treated me worse, complaining to my family that I did not care, when all I wanted was solid, safe therapy twice a week. Multiple
    entries in my “minimum security” prison type room, a treasured Diesel possession, pants in bag w receipt – poof!, four pairs of shorts. My family kept me there, I switched to Sara but it was staged script as long as my family paid $450 a day.

    So no solid continuous therapy since Eight months before with Non let, with lids half my age, no one really knows how to assist me, vicious downward spiral, no advocate anywhere, miniscule empathy until I Imploded. I write to let my horror stop other horrors before they happen: Harvey / Lamb refer to Pasadena Villa, no one was integrated, reintegrated and the biggest laugh is how Mennniger can partner with a corporation that says ” everyone can be productive” I see many every day that are not. “Unique social integration” going to bowling alley heals? Eating at Fridays? The movies, three times a month?

    It is a cover up for Pasadena who never turns away a patient until the third straight jacket pick up by police. Some mileau for a man who had worked from 14 to 42, grad work. All he asked the Managing Director, Jennifer Stokes BEFORE he came was Personality Disorder Therapy, and ADVANCED CAREER MARKETING for ADD/ADHD + ANXIETY meltdown making advanced, 40 years and up job marketing campaigns, impossible.

    Felt completely depraved from “therapy” and career assistance was not ADD/ADHD + Anxiety dynamic but Autism / Asperger Syndrome w very sweet professionals that could format s resume and do an online job application for a chef job, listing experience from college years from 1981 before leaving for retail management. Thank you, Menninger, Dr Harvey, Donna Lamb, Dr Branch, Leigh Ann Strahan, Sara Ely and especially Vicki Wikerson. I do not talk to my family anymore for they believe all and the latest reports from Pasadena Villa. I may be moving into a shelter next week. God bless mom and the $200,000 spent.

    • I’m not really sure what to say here, except that I am sorry that you had such a terrible experience. I knew some of the same staff as you did at Menninger, but I didn’t have any problems with them. They recommended Pasadena Villa to me, as well, but when I checked there they didn’t have any room in their step-down – I would have had to go into their residential program, much like Menninger, for an unspecified amount of time, and I had no interest in that. IT sounds like I missed a bad experience, but I am sorry you had to go through it.

  3. Gothamsanity says:

    Are we talking about and
    Thanks for your reply. Hope had first off, a majority of women, women were more empathetic to each other, expressed huge comradarie within ranks, had less shame barriers, they built their own “shame resiliency”, I saw that freed the few who wanted to leave this world a huge comforting milieau, and sub relationships. So many women prospered. I saw 35+ women in Hope in 9 weeks and 7 men. Most women had hope and worked very hard. Many successes.

    The older, over 40, with personal disorders could do so much. The study in the Netherlands say Schema Therapy can cure Borderline Personality Disorder in three years or as little as one. Dr. Harvey has a tittle on as chemical dependency not personality disorders. Narcissists seldom admit they need help, if they do, same age mileau, supportive individual therapy for in treatment but gold standard is out patient Masterson, Object, maybe intense DBT, ACOA, CODA and Schema Therapy for BPD is said to work.

    Dr. Harvey reminded me if the Wizard of Oz, I did not trust Donna Lamb. I do not know your shame at your age, 25 or less, being a woman? How you reconciled what your triggers might have been? Perfectionism, academic pressure, a death of a relationship, self hate or if you had GAD or BPD? What your Wellness and Relapse Plan looked like, what in the mileau brought you from the depths? But, I am so happy for you!
    What other step downs were recommended, what you found in research? What do you consider pivotal when one chooses? Do you believe family involvement is a plus? Thanks

  4. Gothamsanity says:

    I meant: renaissance healthcare llc same company? ?

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