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Summer Solstice 2022

Former Resident

Former Resident

Nearly 20 years ago, at age 7, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was experiencing a set of symptoms that overlapped with that mental illness. In retrospect this was a misdiagnosis. Today we know these symptoms were early signs of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and a dissociative disorder.

I had many traumatic experiences in hospitals and mental health institutions that did not contribute to my recovery. They made me forget that I was just a child who liked to play games with my friends, swing on the tire swing, and read cookbooks checked out from the school library. They made me forget I was human.

Then I was introduced to Hopewell. My dad reminds me that after a few days at Hopewell, I told him, “I think my work here is done and I should come back home.” Being at a new, unknown place, I was so afraid of the world that I barely spoke. But I soon realized there was nothing to be afraid of at Hopewell, especially the people there.

I’m so thankful that my parents presented compelling reasons for me to stay at Hopewell. I did not want to go back to one of the other facilities I dreaded. My Hopewell care team diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder, and I started EMDR therapy. I immediately started to feel well for the first time.

I tell my family and friends, “If it was not for Hopewell, I would probably be dead.” Trauma is defined as an overstimulating and terrifying event or events from which there is no escape. I could not escape the brutal cycle of my debilitating symptoms and traumatic pediatric medical treatment. Hopewell took me in with open and loving arms. I was free to roam around the beautiful grounds and taste the outside air every day. I would walk to the Mesopotamia store and buy ice cream with friends.

It has been years since I was discharged from Hopewell. Since leaving, I have continued to heal and function more fully and with significantly less medication, all under the guidance of doctors. I learned that with continued EMDR therapy, I will recover and no longer experience symptoms.

I now attend Cuyahoga Community College, where I am studying for my liberal arts degree. In my free time, I volunteer at Chagrin Falls Historical Society and work at a vintage clothing store. I also dabble in creative writing, exchanging ideas with other writers. Hopewell was my second home, my second family, and I will forever be grateful. They broke the cycle of trauma and gave me hope so I could have a life. They are true to the name "Hopewell."

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