I’m the Evidence…How one step begins a journey toward endless possibilities.
Katie Wilson is a woman full of great vision for her future, but it wasn’t too many years ago that she couldn’t see beyond the goal of staying out of the hospital. Prior to beginning to experience extreme symptoms of depression, she was a college student with a 4.0 grade average, traveling abroad, a young woman who was going places. When Katie was diagnosed and began receiving services in 1999, it began a long road of nine rough years during which she was voluntarily admitted to the hospital 16 times and was in a seemingly never-ending cycle of partial hospital day programming.
While she learned about the goal setting process at the partial hospital program, it was the staff who were writing the very basic treatment goals for her. Katie saw it as a positive step to set her first goal to simply get out of the partial hospital program, and. in 2006, the program finally decided it was time for Katie’s discharge.
The day before her discharge date, Katie was in a serious car accident—she had flat-lined, and had serious injuries, including a broken pelvis and internal bleeding. And yet as horrible as this experience was, Katie views it as a major turning point in her life. She awoke with an “attitude of gratitude,” finding herself valuing life as she never had before. She realized she had a life that she didn’t want to throw away.
Katie was discharged from the partial hospital program, but, needing more support, she began services with a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS.) Her CPS told her about the STAR Center, a psychiatric rehabilitation program of NHS Human Services in Carlisle, PA. STAR offered the ability to connect with others on their recovery journey, psychiatric rehabilitation groups, classes about Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) and the chance to learn skills such as using a computer, writing a newsletter and working in the horticulture room taking care of plants. When offered the opportunity to work in the horticulture room, Katie agreed, even though she does not see herself as having a green thumb. What she found was that taking care of the plants gave her a sense of responsibility…they relied on her. This opened her understanding of how much she needed to have a sense of purpose in life, to be needed.
The STAR Center became a centering ground of her recovery journey, offering the chance for establishing new goals and growth. Even when she still doubted her abilities, she was supported by her psychiatric rehabilitation worker and fellow peers at the Center to take the steps towards new opportunities. She became involved with the Community Support Program (CSP) Committee, and eventually applied for and was given the position of part-time CSP Secretary. New paths came her way and she took the often challenging steps of learning new skills and stretching herself in ways she couldn’t have previously imagined. The CSP needed someone to work on the newsletter, and Katie took on the challenge of learning a new computer program and putting this together. At the urging of fellow peers, she took on the role of co-chair of the CSP Committee. With a new level of confidence and new personal goals, Katie took on additional part-time employment being hired to work with the Cumberland/Perry County Consumer/Family Satisfaction Team.
This past November, Katie’s relationship with the STAR Center changed in a big way, when she accepted the full-time position of Administrative Assistant at the Center. While she is still adjusting to the full-time schedule, working in a recovery-oriented environment with understanding co-workers helps tremendously. Katie knows she is moving in the right direction, and that she is where she is supposed to be in her life—continuing to take one step at a time towards endless possibilities.