Sandy has been struggling with addiction and mental health issues for decades. Her father was an alcoholic and provided her with her first taste of beer at the young age of 12. It wasn’t until earlier this year when Sandy finally got treatment through Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) that she was able to get sober and get well. Sandy says it has absolutely saved her life.
“I was a very functioning alcoholic. Nobody knew how bad it was. I owned a business. I thought I was really good at it, so I kept doing it,” says Sandy. It was 1990; Sandy was 28 when someone first told her she may have a drinking problem. She didn’t listen.
She would continue to live her life in a vicious cycle of drinking heavily and then hating herself. She has three children and the two oldest, in many ways, raised her.
“My oldest, my daughter, at times had to pay the rent when she was in high school because I spent most of my money on alcohol,” Sandy explains.
Her family, so worried about her health and safety, would often have to call the police or an ambulance. Sandy says she has been hospitalized at least 30-40 times, including psychiatric treatment. In 2005 she was diagnosed as bipolar. But Sandy didn’t take it seriously, didn’t truly understand the disease, and would often not take her medication.
In 2008, her youngest daughter who was only 8 years old at the time was taken away from her. Her older children also cut ties, because as her daughter said, “I’m not going to watch you kill yourself”.
Finally, in December 0f 2013, Sandy was given what she calls an “incredible gift”. After several days of binge drinking and being hospitalized again, this time when she left the hospital, she went into the Partial Hospitalization Program at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center. It was 9 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Sandy did it for 12 days, and says she finally got the tools she needed to get her life back on track.
“They aren’t people in uniforms taking your vital signs every hour; they were trying to help with the rest of your life. It just felt more normal. I was getting advice on sleep, eating and it was more tools for my ‘toolbox’,” Sandy says.
She has been out since February of this year and is now taking her bipolar medication regularly, seeing a psychiatrist every three months, going through a 12-step program every day, walking two miles a day and feeling better than she has felt in decades. “I didn’t think I could feel this good ever again. I feel like I’m back in my twenties. It’s awesome!”
She just celebrated a birthday in September, and was able to spend it with her two daughters. Her youngest, who is now 13, baked her a cake. Sandy says it was the best day of her life.
She is incredibly grateful for the PHP and the resources that were available to her, and says more programs like it are needed. “This helped lessen the stigma and helped take away the feeling that I was spiraling out of control. It took a long time, but they saved my life.”
On October 22, Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center launched a campaign to create a Behavioral Health Wellness Center that will provide more of these important services, like the PHP that Sandy credits for saving her life. ACUITY Insurance of Sheboygan is offering a $125,000 Challenge Grant to encourage community support. This campaign will run through December 31, so now is the time to give! Bid on our online auction, or make a gift at give.aurora.org/lighttheway or call Erik Barber at 920-451-5117 to make a gift and learn more.