Toni’s Heartbreaking Past
Toni has some extensive trauma in her past. At eight years old, she was diagnosed with severe mental illness and was placed on heavy medications. Later in life, she experienced physical and mental abuse. She even had her two youngest children removed from her custody five years ago. “It was like they died,” she said. “I dropped them off to school one day and I never saw them again.”
This was heartbreaking for her, and it led directly to her substance use. Soon after, a woman she knew told Toni that she was going to give her something to help. She then stuck a needle in Toni’s arm. “I spiraled out of control,” Toni explained. After surviving suicide attempts because life was so painful for her, she caught a bus and checked herself into a 28-day substance use treatment program. She then found her way to Madonna House.
Madonna House Changes Her Life
Her time with us at Cazenovia Recovery has been nothing short of life-changing. After careful analysis by our medical director and psychiatrist, Toni stopped taking her strong mental health prescriptions. “It was numbing,” she said of the medications. “I never knew what normal was until I was taken off [of them].”
As the days went by, her symptoms stopped. “This is the best I’ve felt since I can remember,” Toni said happily. The staff at Madonna House noticed the positive change, too. “Life is beautiful. For once in my life, I can actually see clearly,” said Toni.
While at Madonna House, her counselor, Andrea, taught her to set small, achievable goals instead of “outrageous ones.” People new in the recovery process can often get thrown off track by not achieving self-set goals. They often aim too high and experience failure. Many people with substance use disorders already have low self-esteem, and this can be a frequent trigger for relapses. “You build yourself up with goals,” Toni explained.
Somerset House Sets the Next Steps
After successfully completing her treatment at Madonna House, Toni then moved to Somerset House in Appleton. She’s been there since mid-June, and she’s used her time there to strengthen the bond she has with her three older children. “I’m actually being a responsible mother,” she said. Toni’s particularly grateful to be in a position to help her children when they need it. In fact, she just took her daughter and grandson out to shop for summer clothes. “It felt so good,” Toni said.
Now that she’s off her medications and using what she learned at Madonna House, she continues to set achievable goals. She’s actually just about to achieve a pretty big one: tomorrow, she gets to see her youngest children for the first time in five years. “My anxiety is going through the roof,” she said. “It’s like Christmas Eve right now.” There’s much to be excited for, and Toni is thankful for every moment. “I have so much hope,” she said.