A Story of Hope: Meet Amanda
August 01, 2019
HopeWay. To many, this word doesn’t hold any significance. In fact, some don’t even know that it’s not just a word, but a place. Though housed in Charlotte, NC, HopeWay is a safe, nurturing sanctuary both for Charlotteans and for hundreds of individuals around the US. It is a special, unique support system where you are no longer defined by a label, a diagnosis, or your past. Here, healing begins and hope is restored.
In March 2019, my world that I had been desperately trying to hold together quickly unraveled. The pressure of a demanding job, combined with going back to school at night, running in the wee hours of the morning, and trying to be a Pinterest-worthy single mom caused my anxiety to rise to an all-time high. I suddenly started to feel hopeless, and those dark thoughts soon turned into a well-laid out plan to take my own life.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning in March when I snuck into a dark room and wept on the phone to my psychiatrist, begging for help. I felt less than worthy of any life at all, but I also knew I had a precious son downstairs who deserved a mom. My psychiatrist gently told me he felt I needed more intensive care. I remember his words exactly, “Amanda, there are a few treatment options in Charlotte, but I’ve had the most success with my patients at HopeWay.”
Being the perfectionist I was, and naively thinking failure wasn’t an option, I wanted to go to the best, so there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to be at HopeWay.
After that call, my mind told me I wasn’t safe to be home alone. Since it was Sunday, and treatment centers like HopeWay were closed, I chose to seek emergency care at CMC ER - SouthPark. But by 9:00 AM on Monday morning, one of the incredibly talented Admission Specialists at HopeWay, Katy Hollingsworth, had gotten in touch with me regarding the next steps for admission. From that very first call, Katy spoke to me with compassion, patience, and understanding.
When I walked into the beautifully decorated, softly lit halls of HopeWay, I was taken aback by the friendliness of the staff, the normalcy of the building, and the hope that resonated within the halls. There were smiles on faces – and not just on those who wore HopeWay badges. Smiles lingered on client's faces too, and I wondered if I even knew how to do that anymore. Looking around in those initial moments, I took the first deep breath I could remember taking in months. Suddenly it felt like things might actually be okay.
Soon after arriving, Katy ushered me in to an intake room to meet Dr. Jason Peck, my HopeWay psychiatrist. Dr. Peck was gentle and soft spoken. During our assessment, he made me feel validated, important, and supported. He allowed me to be part of the decision-making when creating my treatment plan. He reassured me I was where I needed to be, and most importantly, he was believable. Later that evening, Dr. Peck even checked on me to make sure everything had gone well during my admission into the residential unit. He was always so observant of all the minute details.
I vividly remember meeting my individual therapist, Yvonne, for the first time. She was insightful, encouraging and empathetic, yet assertive and bold. Over the course of my treatment, I came to believe that Yvonne was perfectly placed in my life. She taught me how to be compassionate towards myself, and to live in the present without feeling pressure to chase my next achievement. Best of all - she somehow knew exactly when I needed to hear, “I’m really proud of you, Amanda.”
Yvonne wasn’t the only therapist who had a powerful effect on me during my time at HopeWay. Andrew, one of my group therapists, had an innate ability to make me feel safe about becoming vulnerable enough to open up and participate in group therapy, something that is pretty difficult for an introvert like me. Whenever I got uncomfortable, Andrew made time after group to talk with me. He also always brought the perfect amount of humor to any situation to help lighten the mood.
Andrew and Yvonne are only two of the therapists at HopeWay who make an incredibly powerful impact on a daily basis. HopeWay is brimming with talented and experienced clinical professionals.
HopeWay’s program structure includes opportunities outside of individual and group therapy sessions for clients to explore their specific needs. This interdisciplinary model helps combat the “one size fits all approach” so often found in other healthcare options. At HopeWay, clients are gently pushed to their limits, while also being supported and encouraged outside the confines of a “classroom” setting. Throughout all levels of programming, clients can participate in several different integrative therapies, which is one of the features that makes HopeWay’s treatment one of a kind.
During recreational therapy, I learned that leisure did not mean I was choosing to be lazy. In fact, the activities helped me rediscover the fun in simple pleasures and tasks.
Yoga and meditation classes taught me how to calm the anxious thoughts in my mind through breathing exercises that helped keep me present and grounded.
There was a music therapy session that taught me the importance of “letting go” as I and the rest of the group listened to a very familiar Disney song from the film, “Frozen.” The release I felt from letting go of a particular part of my life that I realized I actually had no control over, was an overwhelming discovery.
Art therapy provided a safe space where meaningful progress could be made without having to speak. From drawing a self-portrait to illustrating myself as a tree, art therapy always provided self-discovery and emotional release.
Horticultural therapy sessions and lessons in the Learning Kitchen, both led by incredible therapists, rounded out an amazing collection of integrative therapies that work together to provide unprecedented mental health treatment.
I’ve learned that mental health does not discriminate, but it does not have to define me. At HopeWay, I was provided invaluable knowledge, a toolbox of skills, support, strength, and best of all HOPE to carry on. I was reminded that I am worthy of love and life – worthy without having to be perfect.
I will forever be grateful to HopeWay and the incredibly special team of therapists, providers, behavioral technicians, and staff I have gotten to work with in my journey to mental wellness.