A Story of Hope: Meet Elizabeth
December 21, 2021
Growing up, I always made excuses for things that went wrong in my life. I struggled to take responsibility for my wrongdoings, and I refused to admit I needed help. In June 2020, I went through a breakup, which contributed to the downfall of my mental health, eventually leading me to complete six weeks of treatment in HopeWay’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). My mental health gradually got worse throughout the summer. I began experiencing anxiety daily. At the end of July, I started seeing a therapist once a week, and thought that would be the solution to my problems. Unfortunately, that was not the case. By August, I was intentionally restricting my food intake. I saw weight loss as the perfect outlet for my struggles. I believed it made me prettier, happier, and more confident. This misconception led to self-destructive behavior that did me no favors. Throughout the fall semester, I continued to restrict, and my anxiety got worse.
My parents expressed their concerns about my mental and physical health, but I was in no place to accept the truth that I was sick and needed more help than I was currently receiving. At the end of October, when I was home for a week, my parents told me they wanted me to go to HopeWay. Defensively, I began to raise my voice, telling them I refused to go. I saw HopeWay as a facility for highly depressed people. That wasn’t me. I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t suicidal, and I did not believe I needed intensive treatment.
My anxiety and my eating disorder contributed to me being at the darkest point I’ve ever experienced. I was not myself. I didn’t recognize myself and neither did my family or friends. I lost complete control of my emotions, and my actions and behavior were dictated entirely by the monster known as mental illness. The Elizabeth Hobson everyone knew and loved had disappeared. One Friday night I reached my breaking point. I called my parents and told them I was miserable. I begged them to let me come home and go to HopeWay. While I’m sure that was the last thing they expected to hear me say, they immediately found a flight and flew me back to Charlotte.
I was exhausted from feeling so unhappy. So on December 7, 2020, I entered the 5-day-a-week day treatment program (PHP) at HopeWay. However, on my first day at HopeWay, I was still convinced I did not belong there. I clung to the belief that I was not sick enough to be there. Little did I know how much that opinion would change over the following six weeks.
Different Forms of Therapy
The first week and a half felt almost like summer camp. Daily activities such as Horticulture, Music, and Art Therapy, as well as Drumming (by far my favorite part of HopeWay), felt like anything but therapy. I wondered how the different daily activities would make me better. Going into my third week, I fell into a slump. I was incredibly discouraged and felt like I would never overcome my struggles. I was at a point where I could recognize my anxiety and triggers, yet it felt like every day, I was more anxious than the day before. I talked to my primary therapist about this and he encouraged me to see my daily anxiety as a good thing rather than a bad thing. The anxiety I was feeling had been buried inside of me, and I was now able to acknowledge it instead of letting it build up to an unmanageable point. I was discharged from HopeWay the week before my spring semester in college.
My life post-HopeWay has not been smooth sailing like I expected. I went through a significant life change in February. I left college, moved back home for the remainder of the semester, and applied to UNC-Chapel Hill where I now plan to finish my undergraduate degree.
Going through such a big change would usually prompt stress and anxiety. However, because of what I learned at HopeWay, I feel entirely in control of my life and emotions. It feels cliché to say that HopeWay saved my life, yet it is the truest thing I have ever said.
I never wanted to hurt myself, and while I would likely still be here if I had not gone to HopeWay, I would still be living the life I lived before I received treatment. I believe that my positive attitude about HopeWay is part of the reason why I benefitted so much from my treatment. It is because of HopeWay and the professionals who supported me during my treatment that I can get through difficult and stressful situations, while moving forward in a positive direction with my mental health.