An alternative to hospitalization

When she was 19 years old, Kat was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a condition with symptoms of schizophrenia and depression. As a result of her disorder, she hears voices in her head every day. The voices show her pictures, like a slideshow, she says. "The main thing is they tell me all the ways I could die."

Depressed, anxious and overwhelmed by the strain and stress they caused after she was first diagnosed, she checked herself into a hospital's psychiatric unit. "The worst kind of mental illness is when you know what you're doing is strange and is weird to other people, but you can't stop doing it. That's how I felt when I was first diagnosed," says Kat, who is 25 years old now.

At the time, she thought hospitals were her only treatment option. She was hospitalized in psychiatric units a total of seven times. But she only found the treatment and understanding she needed when she was eventually referred to the partial hospitalization program at Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health.

The program helped her in ways that hospitals could not, she says. "It was just different from anywhere else that I'd gone."

Staff members at Alexian Brothers introduced her to dialectical behavior therapy, a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helped her immensely. They were knowledgeable about her disorder and the voices she hears. And they understood how uncommon it is for a person like Kat with a psychotic disorder to be as high functioning as she is. After successfully completing the program, she went through Alexian Brothers' intensive outpatient program. Now, she says, "I'm doing really well. It was kind of a rebirth being in the program."

Berry, who has a graduate degree in social work and currently has a career in that field, is grateful for the treatment she received at Alexian Brothers. "I'm grateful for being high functioning and being able to live the dream that I've always had for myself. I'm grateful for the loving people in my life who have been with me the whole time, good and bad. And who continue to be with me now as I move on: being successful, but still, every day, having to struggle with mental illness."

Give someone like Kat the treatment she needs to live her dream. Make a gift to Alexian Brothers Foundation.