An abusive marriage, divorce, pressure at work, depression, anxiety and chronic pain caused Virginia to “meltdown.”

She changed careers and thought that would help. It didn’t. The stress, depression and anxiety     intensified.  Virginia began self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to try and overcome the pain.

“I couldn’t keep up. I crashed and burned,” she said. “I got fired. I tried several more jobs and realized that I couldn’t work anymore. I couldn’t handle the stress.”

That’s when she found Counseling & Recovery Services of Oklahoma.  She received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder.  Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. PTSD occurs when someone experiences a terrifying event and continues to experience flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Virginia has received therapy, medication, and support at Counseling & Recovery Services during the road to recovery that she describes as long and rocky with lots of ups and downs.

“I didn’t take care of myself. I didn’t eat. I didn’t clean my apartment. I slept a lot,” Virginia said. “I lost friends and lost touch with family.”

She also has physical health issues including  diabetes, the body’s inability to stabilize its insulin levels, and fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.

‘Each day is a struggle. If I didn’t have this place, I’d be dead,’ Virginia said.

Virginia applied for and received disability.  She also gradually began to get better. With the help of her Case Manager Lynn Yeager and Dr. Bill O’Brien, “the light came on” about six months ago and she’s been making amazing progress.

She is feeling well enough to visit her sister and hopes to reconnect with a friend with whom she lost contact.

“I have a cat,” Virginia said. “She was born on my birthday a year ago. That’s a sweet coincidence. I’m able to take care of myself and of her.”

Virginia doesn’t drive because of the multiple medications that she takes for physical and mental health issues.  She uses the Lift to get around town. Disability provides enough money for a one bedroom apartment with all bills paid.

Virginia said people without mental health issues do not understand that getting better and staying well doesn’t happen overnight. It is a gradual, long-term process. That’s why Counseling & Recovery Services and other community mental health centers like it are so important.

“I am so grateful for the support I get here,”  Virginia said. “This is my lifeline.”