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Former Tampa patient says behavioral specialist helped her turn her life around

04/14/23 04:00:pm

Rachel says she’s dealt with some form of anxiety and depression since she was young. She would comfort herself with food and, as she got older, Rachel would buy things to make herself feel better. She dabbled in traditional outpatient therapy before beginning Focus Depression Recovery at Rogers in Tampa in 2018.

“I was suicidal and in complete financial ruin,” Rachel says. “I knew I was at my breaking point and viewed this as a rebranding for Rachel.”

Lucas photo.jpegRachel recalls thinking things were never going to get better. She remembers her former behavioral specialist, Lucas Strunk, now a therapist on the Patient Access team, welcoming her on her first day.

“Lucas told me he would never lie or sugarcoat anything,” she says. “He told me that the pain I was feeling would temporarily get worse because I had been numbing myself for so long. I remember telling him that I would not survive if the pain was going to get worse. He told me that by being brave and showing up on day one, he knew I would survive and I would see that soon, too.”

“She had resigned herself to the way she was living and would tell me all the time that she was just going through the motions,” says Lucas.

Rachel says she worked hard to rewrite the lifelong internal voice she had in her head, calling exposure and response prevention (ERP) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills “invaluable.”

“When you are so deep in the pit, no amount of positive self-talk helps,” she says. “I learned how to make neutral statements about myself. I was taught thought challenging, which I still use daily, and radical acceptance, which means I can’t control everything. I learned how to advocate for myself and be assertive. On my last day, Lucas said to me that the moment I embrace all the amazing things I have to offer, I would be unstoppable, and he was right.”

“It was rewarding to see her transform,” Lucas says. “It’s so amazing to hear she’s doing well after all this time and is using the skills she learned. I told myself when I started the process of becoming a counselor that if I helped at least one person, then I’ve done my job. Seeing Rachel’s video has really made my heart feel full.”

Watch the video above to hear more of how the Tampa team helped Rachel rise above her depression and eating disorder.

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