My story is about trying to remain the anchor when the world you know is flying apart…
In the summer of 2008, my daughter Johnna broke up hard with her boyfriend from the past school year. One day, we took her to the ER at Children’s Hospital--she was having suicidal thoughts. She was not admitted, but began psychiatric care at that time. In the months that followed, she continued to be very emotional and was having a very tough time with life. One night in December, she came to us (Trina and me) and said that she was having strong thoughts of suicide and felt unsure that she could count on herself to say no to them. We decided to take her to the psych ward at Children's Hospital. Her mother Trina, I, and her twin brother Jackson all went and got her checked in that night. I remember driving home wondering what the hell happened? It just seemed wrong to leave her when she was in need!
Johnna spent 6 days at the hospital and a few weeks as a day patient. In the meantime, our family was struggling, and on the verge of being destroyed. My wife had almost completely stopped eating. My son, who is very close (even still) emotionally with his twin sister and who most often was loud and opinionated, had become quiet and withdrawn. Luckily, Jackson was not acting out. Johnna had asked that we did not tell anyone outside the immediate family what had happened. This added immensely to my personal feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and desperation.
Johnna was discharged with a diagnosis of major depression. While she did not seem suicidal, she was lashing out with episodes of anger and hostility. Dinners were especially emotional, often ending quickly with Trina exiting in a fit of tears and Jackson quiet. I was trying to show strength and keep the family together. Really, I was just wondering what I can do.
We sought out many different types of treatment, but most seemed only marginally effective at best. Sadly each failed treatment eats away at finances, time, and hope (if this is where you are, I’m praying for you). What really helped was that Johnna was referred to the Creative Arts Therapy Program. She truly embraced the art therapy. For a look at this see this video : https://youtu.be/Rhw4spxVqN0 produced by Johnna and the program.
I would love to tell you that it all got better and everything is wonderful now, but that is not really life with mental illness. We have spent many long nights working her through fits of darkness. However, in the big picture, and with the tools developed through the Art Therapy Program, Johnna has been able to move on with her life. She still struggles--and she has grown into an adult who is a competent professional who is trying hard to live her own life.
This summer we both will be riding the Courage Classic! We will be raising money for the Ponzio Creative Arts Program--and for the next family that wakes up one day to find they desperately need an alternative therapy for their child. Please pledge money to us or any member of the Ponzio Team. The world desperately needs this!