When you are 11 years old you are supposed to be riding your bike, having adventures, and counting the days till Christmas. You are supposed to be learning new things, going places, and dreaming big dreams.
But when Lindy Whisman was 11 years old, there wasn’t much she could think about, do, or enjoy. She was suffering from intense migraines, and already on a path that would lead to crippling depression. Multiple health issues forced young Lindy into pain management.
She began taking medications, living a somewhat sequestered existence, and subsequently began to feel that she had lost control of her life. By the time she came to Peninsula as an adult, Lindy had already been through several therapy programs with only limited success, and had been having suicidal thoughts for years.
“It was like a deep hole,” Lindy explains. “I just fell into it, and I couldn’t get back out.”
That changed when she began therapy at Peninsula. Her therapist called in Peninsula Recovery Services Manager Mary Nelle Osborne, who recommended the Recovery Education Center (REC) at Peninsula Lighthouse.
“I was very open to it, because I had no hope for myself, in any aspect of my life,” Lindy says. “They say that your reality is what you make of it, and my reality seemed black.”
Osborne explains REC is a program that provides an encouraging environment where those with mental illness can get on the right track for a successful future, and enjoy a better quality of life. Participants are encouraged to work toward spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
“We hear again and again how REC students start to feel hopeful again, and we see them start to rebuild their lives using the information they are learning and the support of peers in a safe community,” Osborne says. “The REC program is a living laboratory where individuals are encouraged to put into practice what they are learning.”
As Lindy progressed in the program, she added goals to decrease dependent behavior, and to develop healthy boundaries. REC also offers a wide range of classes to help participants move forward in life. Those classes include topics like anger management, disordered eating, stress management, and loneliness, but also basic life skills, job readiness, and academics.
Today she looks back on her life, remembering dark days when even finding enough hope to get out of bed was a struggle. “I had no connections with anyone, I really had no friends anywhere, and I was in codependent relationships,” Lindy says. “I felt like I had no control in my life.”
Gone are the feelings of isolation, and gone are the self-imposed restrictions. “On my best days, I know that I can do anything I want,” Lindy laughs.
Simple things that used to cause a sense of panic within her aren’t so threatening anymore, like walking into a crowd of people, or striking up a conversation with someone she’s never met before. Lindy says it’s as if new doors are magically opening up in front of her, and she now has the skills and the support to walk through those doors.