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Former Nashville Connect Care patient credits Rogers with saving her life

12/13/22 02:00:pm

Jill photo.jpgJill says her “Type A” personality made it difficult for her to recognize she needed help.

“I was called a teacher’s pet, perfectionist, great student, and conscientious,” Jill says. “We associate all those terms with young people who are often experiencing anxiety without understanding it, and they think to themselves, ‘I’m being praised for being like this, so it must be a ‘good’ thing.’”

Jill says although she’s had anxiety for as long as she can remember, she didn’t realize what she was feeling wasn’t normal.

“The only indicator I had that something was wrong as a kid was my mom being concerned,” she says. “She noticed tendencies of nervousness, hyperawareness, and perfectionism. Oftentimes, I had stomachaches before going to school.”

Jill saw outpatient therapists off and on in college and throughout her 20s. Then, leading up to 2020, she experienced several significant life events — back surgery, marriage, buying a home, changing jobs, and multiple health scares — that would eventually lead to disordered eating and unintended weight loss. The COVID-19 pandemic compounded her already heightened anxiety.

“My psychiatric nurse practitioner at the time prescribed a few different medications, but nothing was working. She told me she was noticing obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I knew I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but I thought there’s no way I had OCD. Like so many people, I thought OCD just meant cleaning all the time and feeling like everything has to be in its place. She recommended Rogers. I asked her, if she were in my shoes, would she go or send her own child? And without hesitation, she said she would.”

Jill started OCD and Anxiety virtual partial hospitalization treatment in Nashville through Rogers Connect Care.

“By the time I got to week seven or eight, my behavior specialist started to talk about residential treatment,” Jill shares. “He said I hadn’t progressed to where they would like me to be at that stage of the treatment, and he wasn’t wrong. Sometimes, I’d think I was making progress, but deep down I knew I wasn’t. He really did save my life.”

Scott Pierce.jpgScott Pierce, behavior specialist, remembers that well.

“She was quite medically unstable when she started the program,” Scott says. “She was losing weight due to restrictive eating and panic attacks. Jill was very symptomatic, and everything in her life had become difficult because of OCD. It was a challenge for her to be in treatment at all, even through telehealth. The conversations we had about residential were full of anger and tears, but Jill persisted every day and was able to make the decision to help herself and get the care she desperately needed.”

Jill says going to OCD and Anxiety residential care in Wisconsin was the right decision, and the scariest.

“When I got there, I thought, ‘I can’t be here. I shouldn’t be here. I don’t belong here,’” she says. “I was completely panicked and overwhelmed when I walked through those doors. But I saw there are other people like me who need more intensive treatment, and I slowly started to recognize that I really was sick and needed more intensive care.”

Despite her fears, Jill says she learned to accept help. She credits Rogers’ evidence-based treatment with teaching her how to turn her destructive negative self-talk into self-compassion.

“It’s being tender toward yourself and learning how to change, or at least challenge, your inner monologue if it’s getting mean or abusive,” she says. “I named my OCD ‘Dolores’ after the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix character, Dolores Umbridge. She’s all about rules and punishment. I was constantly berating myself, and nothing I did or said was ever good enough. Personifying my OCD and separating it from ‘the real me’ proved useful for moving toward recovery. Self-compassion taught me to say, ‘Hey, you’re doing the best you can. I’ve got you. I’m here holding you, even if you feel alone or unworthy of love and care.’”

After residential care, Jill returned to Nashville, where she completed partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment through Rogers Connect Care.

Jill describes life after Rogers as feeling as though she can breathe again and truly live her life.

Jill by waterfall - great photo.jpg“Instead of avoiding the things that I used to really love and enjoy, I am turning toward them,” she shares. “The concept of ‘opposite action’ I learned at Rogers is really, really powerful. I now have an awareness of what an intrusive thought is, and I can see when those are coming in, even if it takes a minute. I have skills to challenge those thoughts, and instead of focusing on them and engaging with them, I can usually move on.”

Scott says it’s rewarding to hear Jill is maintaining progress.

Heather Parker_cropped.jpg“It was a privilege to be able to work with Jill and her family on both sides of her residential journey,” he says. “She made tremendous change in her time with us. In the end, Jill saved herself and took her life back. I’m truly touched to hear of Jill’s gratitude for her experience at Rogers and to know that her success continues.”

Heather Parker, Rogers Operating System deployment leader, was Jill’s therapist in residential care.

“When Jill came into treatment, I remember seeing an incredible individual who was determined to live the life she wanted,” says Heather. “OCD and anxiety were robbing her of that. I look forward to seeing what Jill can do moving forward with the determination she had throughout treatment. I’m happy she continues to put herself and her recovery first.”

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