“I woke up hopeless”: How specialized care helped John heal after losing his best friend

John with his beloved dog Sasha. He had no idea how hard his death would hit him until he woke up one morning, feeling completely hopeless.

John with his beloved dog Sasha. He had no idea how hard her death would hit him until he woke up one morning feeling completely hopeless.

At the age of 82, John was the oldest patient to ever go through the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center. It’s hard for him to explain exactly how he ended up there, but he woke up one morning in 2013 feeling like he didn’t want to get out of bed and he could no longer take care of himself.  That’s when he decided to get serious help.

Depression is something John has struggled with off and on throughout his life. He says he always did pretty well in school, but had a difficult marriage for 13 years. In 1977, he decided to get a divorce. Though it was a traumatic experience, John says mostly, he felt free.

He got a job at a factory, but said stress and worry would impact him physically, and about 20 years ago, he started taking medication to help with his depression. John always had a network of people around him but his depression just wasn’t something he could talk about with others.

“I became involved in the church I grew up in, I would volunteer a lot and there were groups I would interact with, but I just never felt like this was something I could share,” John says.

It was the spring of 2013 when something hit him unexpectedly. His beloved dog Sasha, a true companion for over 17 years, passed away. John was surprised to wake up one day and feel completely powerless.

“I thought about it every day and every night. I didn’t have any bad experiences that could be blamed for this; my health was okay, I didn’t run out of money. It just started to build and all of a sudden I woke up hopeless,” he says.

John took himself to the Emergency Room at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center. They recommended the Partial Hospitalization Program, where you get specialized behavioral health treatment all day, but are able to go home every evening around 4 pm.

“I was so glad to not have to be locked up. That would have felt like being in jail, you eat what’s on their menu. It was such a relief,” John says.

In the PHP, John began group therapy sessions that had an immediate impact, “I was surprised how much I talked, right off the bat. It seems so easy to talk when you know you’re with people who understand. We became like family and I kind of miss that.”

That specialized care gave John the help and tools he needed to get his depression under control. He now says “life is good” and continues to keep busy by volunteering. He even stops by the hospital cafeteria sometimes for lunch. He also goes to events he may not have much interest in because he’s learning “I might actually enjoy it”. And most of the time, he does.

Online auction smallOur goal is to build a Behavioral Health Wellness Center that will provide more of these important services, like the PHP that John credits for helping him. 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! CLICK HERE to participate in our online silent auction! Or call Erik Barber at 920-451-5117 to make a gift and learn more.

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