When I Was Made To Feel Like Nothing (Forgettable Days Series #5)

January 5, 2017

Everyone has experienced a forgettable day – a time you’d rather forget than remember. Yet sometimes what we first perceive as a forgettable day is actually an incredible gateway into an unforgettable life. For the millions with mental illness, the forgettable days can become overwhelming.

Prairie View is sharing personal stories of real people and their forgettable days. Please take the time to follow our “Forgettable Days” series and learn more about how mental illness and addiction affect real lives.

My forgettable day wasn’t just one day, but so many days as a child when I was made to feel like nothing.

Scott refused to see a therapist. He didn’t trust them and wasn’t one of those people who needed “therapy.” However, Scott struggled with sleep and often experienced terrible nightmares. He struggled to maintain employment and was often homeless. He showed signs of severe depression and his chronic ailments found him frequently accessing health care at a local federally qualified health clinic.

How does Prairie View become involved with someone who doesn’t want mental health treatment? Prairie View has always been innovative and proactive. The relationships forged through collaborative partnerships help create access to needed services. In this instance, our partnership with a clinic was at the forefront of integrated care. Integrated care is a system of health care that treats the whole person.  Integrated care champions behavioral health as a critical component of chronic health management.

One day while visiting the clinic, Scott met a Prairie View APRN. Over the next three years, Scott began to trust her. The APRN attempted to prescribe medications to help manage Scott’s depression, nightmares and other symptoms, but she suspected there was much more. One day he confessed, “I’m gay. I don’t know if you know that or not, but usually when people find out, they run me out of their clinic.”

The APRN responded, “Okay, it doesn’t really matter to me. Maybe we should talk about it. It could be at the heart of some of the symptoms you struggle with.” Scott eventually told stories of horrific childhood trauma and abuse. Even as an adult he had been treated as less than human. His stories were consistent with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the symptoms they had been struggling to treat.

The freedom to share his story with a professional he trusted, in a safe environment, transformed Scott’s life. Together with a treatment team, Scott was able to find medication that helped manage his PTSD symptoms so he could function as his best self. He gained employment and visited the health clinic less frequently.

Scott would have never reached out to Prairie View. For him, the stigma of mental health treatment combined with his fear of being himself, was a barrier he couldn’t overcome. Thanks to strong community ties and collaborative partnerships, Prairie View is able to reach out and transform lives where we are least expected. Our work in homeless shelters, jails, clinics, churches and so many other places allow us to be where we are needed most.

“Hope may be the only thing stronger than fear,” says Barbara Walker, LSCSW, LCAC and director of Prairie View’s Community Support Services. “Feeling desperate can promote some really poor choices, but human engagement can bring about change. Offering the presence of the human who cares for you – that’s what we do here at Prairie View.”

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