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‘I have a team working for me. That is what I needed a long time ago.’ – Alysa, Mullica Hill
For decades, Alysa, 50, of Mullica Hill, worked hard to manage recurring episodes of clinical depression, with varying levels of success.
“It was like a dark cloud,” she said. “I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't know what to do.”
After living in Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, and overseas, she and her husband and their two children moved to Mullica Hill in 2019. That was where she finally found a behavioral health program - at Inspira - that she felt gave her everything she needed to thrive.
Alysa’s challenges began, as they do for many people, when she was young.
“When I was in my late 20s, I had a lot going on,” she said. “I was trying to work on my career, and I was very hard on myself. My personality is that I'm just an overachiever. Well, that comes at a price.”
She said that therapy and medication helped, but when she and her husband started a family in 2005, she could not be on medication. Coupled with the hormonal changes and other stressors that come with pregnancy, Alysa said that she struggled almost immediately.
“I thought I could take on the world,” she said. “I had a baby, and I was living with my husband's family. We were renovating a house. It was too much. I wasn't on my meds. I didn't have a psychiatrist or a therapist and I nosedived.”
“I felt like I was a horrible mom. I wasn't working, but I was looking for work at the same time. I had so much going on that I couldn’t handle on my own. I wasn't sleeping. I started to have thoughts of hurting myself and that's when I knew I needed help. About six months after my son was born, I went [for] inpatient [care in 2006].”
In the years that followed, Alysa leaned on her husband and other members of her and his family, some of whom work in health care. She said that they were incredibly helpful and supportive, but she reached a point where she knew that they alone could not help her enough.
Alysa said that after having their second child, she had a similar experience. It was then that she knew she needed a different level of help. However, she struggled to find a team of and medical and mental health professionals that could work together to deliver what she needed.
“My husband has always had great health insurance, so we've been very fortunate, but it's not an easy process unless you know what you're doing,” she said. “It has been quite a journey trying to find a good match with a psychiatrist and therapist.”
For someone struggling with their mental health, just the thought of navigating the complicated world of health insurance can be overwhelming, even a barrier to receiving care. At times, just picking up the phone to contact her insurance company was difficult for Alysa. This added stress even made her symptoms worse.
When the family moved to South Jersey, she said something about her search for a care team changed dramatically.
“That’s when I found Inspira - and it was fabulous.”
It was in 2020 that Alysa came to Inspira for treatment. She said the experience this time was “a little bit of a different journey.”
Alysa’s experience first included participating in Inspira’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and then transitioning to traditional outpatient therapy. In the PHP, patients attend individual and group therapy sessions one to four days a week, with a target of 10 to 15 sessions. Other treatment modalities, including creative arts therapy, are also offered. The care team, made up of a medical director, therapists, social workers, and advance practice psychiatric nurses, provides compassionate treatment and support for people dealing with a wide range of behavioral health issues.
“I went to the PHP program at Inspira,” she said. “When you are finished and graduate from that program, they set you up with a therapist within their network [for traditional outpatient therapy].”
She said that perhaps the most beneficial aspect of her outpatient experience at Inspira, including at the Inspira Behavioral Wellness Center in Glassboro, was that the program was comprehensive, with all the professionals she needed working together.
“The psychiatrist that was working with me in the partial hospitalization program was out of the same office. And Inspira set me up with a one-on-one therapist there. Everybody, from PHP to outpatient to the one-on-one therapy, they're talking, they know what's going on. There's a connection, instead of psychiatrists over here, therapists over here. This is a recipe for success.”
Alysa said the members of her Inspira care team are “constantly in communication, supporting me and helping me with what I need to meet my goals in life for my mental health and beyond.”
She said that her entire family is gratified that she has found a program that works for her in a way others have not. She has returned to one of her lifelong loves, playing tennis, and wants others who may be struggling to know that there is help available.
“I was in their shoes at one time,” she said. “That sense of despair and negativity and lack of hope literally takes over your life. You think that there's no way out. I want to say that there is hope. Inspira has the tools to make you successful. I mean, look at me, I'm here today playing tennis.”
Summing up her experience with Inspira, Alysa said, “My husband and I say this over and over. We have never had such great care as I have today. We're finally in a place that works. I have a team working for me. That is what I needed a long time ago.”