When Peg sought psychiatric hospitalization a decade ago, she knew she needed help for her mental health. “I was suicidal and afraid I was going to hurt myself,” she says. “I knew I needed to get someplace safe.” Upon discharge, hospital staff connected her to counseling services at BHN Valley Human Services— a connection Peg says saved her life. She has not been in a hospital since.
Instead, Peg’s been engaged in counseling at BHN Valley Human Services for the past 10 years on a monthly basis, or more if needed. When she left the hospital, Peg says she was in desperate need of someone who could help her work through the stressors and difficulties in her life. Her counselor, Jane, and her Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), Vearle, provided Peg with a combination of self-therapeutic techniques and medications for depression and traumatic stress that made a significant difference in her mental health, Peg says.
Peg’s problems with anxiety and depression had peaked in a traumatizing work environment. “At work and in my life, I tried my best to please everyone at my own expense. In therapy, I’ve learned it’s okay to have a voice, okay to have needs and preferences, and pursue the things I love.” Peg is now certified in equine massage, putting her lifelong passion for horses and their well-being to work. She says she’s gotten this far with Jane and Vearle’s guidance, and through “a ton of work,” to find coping strategies and new ways of thinking that work for her. When there are situations or social interactions that are triggering and stressful, Peg employs techniques such as meditation and mindfulness, even trying out mental health apps. Peg describes starting with one small, do-able step that can either be enough by itself or lead to more steps and before you know it, a completed task, something she calls “emptying the top rack of the dishwasher.”
“Jane has really helped me figure out how to navigate the intricacies of my heart and mind,” Peg says, “and understand what ‘mentally healthy’ really is.”
During her time at BHN Valley Human Services, Peg tried a course of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), which can help individuals work through past traumatic events in a non-distressing way. She says this therapeutic technique led to some important insights about her past and helped her understand why PTSD emerged. Peg also participated in a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills group. The skills she learned—mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness – have been an invaluable part of her recovery and her new view of mental health, Peg says.
Peg never expected that she would find such a compassionate and supportive group of people in her time of need, but she says she was incredibly fortunate to have found BHN Valley Human Services when she did. If it wasn’t for the work of her therapist and APRN, and the different supports and resources they made available to her, Peg says she doesn’t know where she would be.
“They’ve helped me so much,” Peg says. “Between the two of them, they saved my life.” But it was Peg who has played the real starring role in her courageous and creative journey to wholeness.