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Ashia - troubled teen to HS grad

"While my ilness kept me out of school, I was able to graduate with my class."

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Being a teen is tough enough. Being a teen with an emerging bipolar disorder can feel like chaos. Ashia is 18 and moving on to adult challenges. She wrote this story for other teens so they know how and where they can get help.

Ashia’s parents divorced in 2004. She and her brother began spending alternating weeks with their parents.

“At Dad’s I was not allowed friends or to go outside unless I was going to school, church or visiting Mom. My first stay at Gracepoint happened in the summer, 2009.

I have no clear memory of what happened for about eight days. I had no knowledge of my surroundings or of anyone I interacted with. The staff treated me with extreme kindness. I became familiar with almost everyone by the time I left.

My mother told me I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and psychosis. I went home on medication feeling somewhat back to normal.

I was able to return to school when it reopened. I was functional and maintained steady grades. At first, everything went well, and then my grades slipped. My Mom was understanding, but thought I had gotten complacent and needed to work harder. I would have tons of homework and projects with deadlines I couldn’t meet.

Mom and I had a severe fight because I left home without her permission. She threatened to send me back to Dad’s home. Next morning, I stabbed myself 20 times in both arms with a pair of scissors, went to school and reported to the sheriff’s deputy what I had done.

I was taken to another hospital where I was Baker Acted* for two days and released without medications. I became worse and was admitted again to the same hospital four times for more than two weeks at a time. I would feel better, return home, then go back in the hospital within two to three days with no progress. I was not able to return to school. I begged Mom to take me back to Gracepoint.

In April, I ran away from home. When I was found, Mom said I refused to come home unless she took me to Gracepoint. She agreed and called Gracepoint Crisis Services. She spoke to Dr. Iglesias who promised Mom she would do everything to make me better. Dr. Inglesias asked her to bring me immediately. Mom says Dr. Iglesias greeted us at the door and admitted me immediately before the paperwork was done.

As I became coherent, I remembered most of the staff. Everyone was very receptive, warm and friendly. I felt very safe and at home. Nurse Danielle and Miss Jerry would buy products and bring them in taking time to braid my hair neatly. She would also buy me Gatorade to drink. Dr. Iglesias saw me daily. My mom and brother visited me freely without any issues. I stayed for about seven days. I returned home on new reduced medicines.

My last visit was in June 2011 where once again Dr. Iglesias and staff cared for me with patience and made me feel like family. Mom got personalized reports on my daily progress from the doctor, Jessica or other trained staff. I have been released on minimal medicine, which I take at night. I see Lisa and Dr. Hernandez on for outpatient care. I am feeling physically and mentally better. My family and I are eternally grateful to everyone at Gracepoint. I am pleased to announce my grades are now As and Bs. While my illness kept me out of school all year, I will be able to graduate on schedule with my class in June 2012. My family and I are extremely indebted to Gracepoint.

Many thanks to Dr. Iglesias. True to her word, she has made me better. To the staff, thanks for all your kindness and compassion. God bless you all.

Editor's postscript: Ashia has not been re-admitted since June 2011. She graduated high school and is now living in Brooklyn, NY.  She is looking for work in retail now that she has two year’s experience in that field. She is applying for the fall semester at colleges in New York City.

*Under a Baker Act, people who may hurt themselves or others are hospitalized up to 72 hours for evaluation.