Real stories

Jenna's Story

“It felt like I was with a group of girls who were the same as me with similar emotions.”

Before receiving residential treatment in the Nashotah Program, which offers treatment for high school girls at Rogers Memorial Hospital–Oconomowoc, Jenna felt her eating disorder, anxiety and other mental health challenges were keeping her from enjoying life. Now a freshman in college, Jenna is using what she learned in the program to navigate young adulthood.

“My experience in Nashotah was really good,” says Jenna. “I really connected with Erik Ulland, MD (medical director) and Lisa Herpolsheimer (program manager). They were both very helpful.” While in treatment, girls spend their days learning strategies for improving self-esteem and conquering other obstacles.

“It was a good fit for me because the program was structured,” she says. “The hardest part was acknowledging I had a problem that needed to be fixed, and accepting I couldn’t turn it around by myself.” While in treatment, Jenna used a combination of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)and more to develop new skills and manage symptoms.

She enjoyed how Nashotah offers treatment exclusively for girls in a safe, comfortable environment, making it possible to dive deep. “It was a lot easier for me to talk about how I really felt and discuss what was really going on in my life,” she says. “It felt like I was with a group of girls who were the same as me with similar emotions.”

After completing treatment, Jenna was able to attend her high school prom and get her driver’s license—personal accomplishments she didn’t think were possible. “It was pretty amazing,” she says. “Those things don’t seem that big to most people, but when they seem out of reach, you look at them differently.”

Just beginning her college career, Jenna plans on completing her bachelor’s degree in dietetics. “That decision was really influenced by my own mental health,” she says. “I would love to work with people with eating disorders so I can help others overcome some of the same challenges I faced.”

When Jenna feels overwhelmed or stressed, she uses more healthy methods to cope than she used to. “Sometimes I’ll pull out my sketchbook and draw, call my mom or just take a break and do some deep breathing.”

Art therapy was one of Jenna’s favorite aspects of the program. “One project I made was of beaded people resembling every person that was in Nashotah with me,” she says. “I still have them and I like to look at them and remember my experiences with each person.”

Jenna keeps in touch with a few girls who were in the program with her. “It helps me to stay connected with them,” she says. “I think it’s good to have a sense of reliability on someone who will help you stay on track, and to be able to do the same for someone else.”

The biggest change Jenna sees in herself is her increased social activity. “Before treatment, I felt alone and isolated from others,” she says. “If it weren’t for Nashotah, I don’t think I would be in college, making all of the friends I have today.”

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