Alison's Recovery Story

"My name is Alison, I am 24 years young and I went to the September/October session at the Bridge for help with social anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, and in general bad health. I had spent my whole life dealing with social anxiety and depression, trying many different medications, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. I had also tried a residential treatment center in TN before and got no help there (all they cared about was money). in 2011 my health started going downhill. Doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me but I had a bunch of different symptoms and was scared. I had suicidal thoughts many times in my life, but somehow I stayed hopeful that SOON something would change. It didn't change. over and over, same story, same pathetic life. by 2012 I couldn't take it anymore, there was no good ending for me, I would never be happy, I was sure of it and ready to take my life. This is when the bridge found me. I must have accidentally downloaded the brochure years ago when I was first looking into treatment centers. I was going through my downloaded documents and found it. I wasn't excited about it, but it looked different then the rest of the places I had seen and read about before. I just had a feeling this could be it. I didn't know how it could possibly help me… honestly it sounded weird to me, but since it was different I thought, why not give it a shot. Then if it doesn't work out... I'll know I tried everything.
In September I flew out with my mom to Utah, SO SCARED. I was worried I would be the only person my age there. I was worried about having to talk to anyone or even worse…have to talk in front of everyone. Most people were going there for health reasons, not social anxiety. They probably wouldn't understand my weird fears of doing anything in front of people.
So how did it go? Everyone there was so nice. I was the only person my age. Only one person was younger than me (18). But I didn't feel like that was an issue. I fell in love with every single person there. They became my family. No matter what our age was, we were all at the same place in our life, we were all changing our lives for the better, struggling together, and being their for each other.
The first moment I remember feeling hope was when I met one of my favorite staff members. I found out that she went through the same issues as me and I wanted to improve like she had. She was living proof it was possible.
It was only a few days in that I was sure everything in my life was going to be different. In that moment I felt like a whole new person. I then had the rest of my time there to practice the things I learned. And I learned so many amazing things there. I can't say I wasn't scared to go home though. I was scared to go back to the place where I was the old me. To the people who were so used to me being the way I always was. I was sad to leave all my new friends. They were part of this new journey!! But since then we have stayed in touch and they are still there to support me.
All of the staff at the bridge that worked with me were great. They were best I've met and wished I could take them home with me. They did an amazing job at picking their staff! I didn't quite fit with one of the psychologists, but I let someone there know, and they let me see another one who I really liked! ( If you don't like someone or something there, don't be afraid to let the staff know!)
(Oh and incase you are wondering, the food was amazing and the rooms were amazing. I still miss that bed and the bathroom. I want that bathroom!)
Okay, so you are probably wondering about my improvement right?

Let's give you a picture of the old Alison:
- Too scared to get a job because that involves doing things in front of people (even one person is horrible).
- scared to try anything new
- whenever she did have to go somewhere she took Klonopin or propranolol
- needed energy drinks to care even a little bit about anything (she had no energy! or motivation!)
- wouldn't leave the house without doing her makeup and making sure everything looked as perfect as possible.
- didn't answer the phone or make phone calls
- too scared to go to the grocery store, gas station, make appointments.
- a 23 year old who lived like a 16 year old. having her mom make the appointments, talk on the phone for her, go to the appointments with her etc.
- focused on the past, regretting that she missed out on school (since middle school) because of her anxiety and angry at all the bullies in her life
- wanted to die, because she was sure she'd live with anxiety forever.
- her dream was to be a singer, but with social anxiety that wasn't possible. if you can't live your dreams, whats the point of living, right?
- angry about her social anxiety and depression
- just wanted to be normal
- had a boyfriend (wasn't sure how she got him) and felt bad that she didn't ever go out with him.
A picture of present day Alison:

- no medications or energy drinks since her time at the Bridge
- has a full-time job at a Shipping/Receiving Clerk, and pages over the intercom system everyday (if you don't have Social anxiety… these things won't seem that awesome to you. But you must understand..before, I would have rather died then answered a phone, made a phone call, ordered pizza, or paged over an intercom for all employees to hear!!)
I still feel like giggling every time I page :D I'm so proud of myself :)
- Goes to the gas station and grocery store by herself.
- goes out with no make up on. doesn't take her hours of getting ready anymore!
- pays her own bills, answers the phone, sets up her own appointments, and goes without anyone!
- still dreams of being a singer, but isn't depressed that she isn't there yet.
- focuses on the present moment. Not the past or the future.
- wants to live, and try new things. Excited to try all the things she has missed out on in the past.
- doesn't want to be normal, being weird is so much more fun!
- her relationship with her BF is stronger than ever, they fell more in love, and enjoy going out together. they are even planning a trip together soon :)
- enjoys living!
- wants to help others with social anxiety and depression, and prove to them it IS POSSIBLE to overcome!!!
- has bad days, or bad moments, makes mistakes, but is able to move on from it … the old Alison would stay upset for days/weeks curled up in her bed. What a waste of time. time the could be spent doing so many fun things!

I do still struggle, but I now have the tools to not let it ruin anything!
I would strongly and happily recommend the bridge to anyone and everyone (and I do!). Even if you don't have a problem. If you simply are not happy, or feel like something is missing in your life, go to the Bridge. It was the best money spent ever. I think everyone that has been to the bridge wishes they found it sooner in life. I was lucky to find it at such a young age. I was worried it would be another expensive waste. I was so sick of all the people and places that took money and did nothing to help. All they cared about was money. The Bridge doesn't come off like that at all. It really truly seems like they care more about each one of the guests personal journey than any money. I know that just through referrals they will stick around forever.
To all the bridge staff, you saved my life and I will never forget that. Thank you SO MUCH. To all my bridge family, I love you forever. Let's enjoy this amazing thing called life.
I would be happy to talk to anyone about the Bridge if they are thinking about it. :) my email is whitman.alison@gmail.com
If you are planning on going to the Bridge, I am so excited and happy for you!"
Alison - October, 2012 Guest


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