A Story of Hope: Meet Latimer
November 01, 2019
On November 6, 2018, I walked through the doors of HopeWay a broken man that wanted to get well. Yet, I felt that I did not deserve the wellness I sought. For years, I had been filled with self-loathing, poor self-esteem, shame, and the thought that I did not deserve happiness or love. While many knew about my past struggles with my mental health, I never allowed anyone in on the severity of my negativity towards myself. With my education and training as a mental health clinician, I clouded myself with a distorted view that I could find a way to fix myself. However, I entered HopeWay with my hands in the air, ready to receive help and find hope.
I came to HopeWay from a 6-day inpatient psychiatric hospitalization where I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. While knowing the definitions and symptoms of the disorder, I did not truly understand the disorder and how to address it in my own life. I had acted completely outside of my beliefs, values, and regard for others while in active mania. My mind was flooded with embarrassment, guilt, remorse, and shame for my actions, making my view of myself lower than it had ever been. The psychiatric hospitalization did its job in regard to keeping me safe, but I felt that I did not receive treatment.
HopeWay offered treatment, medication management, support, and every opportunity to grow. The psychiatric hospital was meant for stabilization; HopeWay was meant for helping me to get well.
From the moment that I walked in for my intake, I was embraced with the message of HopeWay and how it could help me find recovery. The intake staff, techs, nurses, and physicians that checked me in helped reinforce the good in my decision to enter treatment, despite being terrified of the unknown. Dr. Marra spent more than an hour with me, my girlfriend, and my family. He helped us feel comfortable with the process and a clear treatment plan was put in place. My primary therapist, Andrew, was exactly who I needed while in treatment for support and processing my distortions.
Throughout my treatment, my cognitive distortions around not being worthy of love from anyone, including myself, were challenged by the staff and my group. Through the Cognitive Behavioral Groups, I learned to put these thoughts on trial. I took time to pause and reflect on the evidence for and against my negative view and determine its validity. While working on my self-esteem in other parts of my treatment, I was able to further recognize how deep my self-loathing had become. I was guarded against positive thought and blinded by my negativity. When bogged down by negative thoughts, I utilized HopeWay’s coaching to walk myself through the process, and I continue to work these out with my therapist on a regular basis. While the thoughts still arise, my approach to combating them has changed entirely.
During treatment, my mind constantly raced with thoughts of what I had done, who I had hurt, and the fallout that was occurring because of my actions prior to treatment. I found it difficult to sleep, eat, or cope with the swirling harmful thoughts that were in my head. However, HopeWay offered holistic treatment methods that gave me tasks to concentrate on. While working through these tasks with my group, my mind was calmed. My thoughts often reemerged after group was over but, for that period of time, I felt relief. My group leaders were there to redirect us and help us all process how the activity was important for developing coping skills as we worked on our recovery. Since my discharge from treatment, I have continued to engage in many of these activities, particularly cooking.
Some of the most impactful moments in treatment were often the ones that were most uncomfortable. I sat with my back towards the board as my group members were asked to write positive characteristics about me. I then had to turn around and read these aloud. Through tears, I saw descriptions such as “smart”, “worthy”, and “inspirational”, among a myriad of other positive traits. I had never believed these and the many other words they used to describe me as characteristics of myself. My negativity began to push back and say that “if only they knew all that I had done, they wouldn’t think these things.” My group listened to my story and emphasized that they felt these before I shared my past with them, but that they still recognized them to be true. HopeWay staff and residents consistently emphasized the good in us, despite the pain or shame that we felt prior to treatment. These words are written down and are saved in my journals from treatment.
Since my discharge date of November 28, 2018, I have made great strides in taking back my life. I have received so much love and forgiveness. The cleanup is still an ongoing process. I am active in therapy and regularly see my psychiatrist. I entered HopeWay on high doses of nearly 8 different medications. Through their medication management, I left HopeWay on 2 effective medications that provide tremendous benefit. I do not feel shame about my decision to go to treatment. It was the best thing that I could have ever done for myself.
For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I feel well, happy, and deserving of love.
Going to treatment can be a difficult decision. I commend all those before and after me who made the decision to take time to reexamine themselves and invest in their growth towards happiness. To those that are struggling with the decision to go to treatment, I would encourage this investment in themselves. In William Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure, there is a line that reads, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
Give 110% of yourself, believe in yourself, and challenge your doubts. You are worth everything, you can find hope, and you can recover.
HopeWay helped save my life. I feel blessed every single day to be alive and to see others find wellness through treatment. I cannot recommend HopeWay and their staff enough. I love myself and my life. I wish and want the same for everyone.