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GIVE FROM THE HEART

Anyone Can be Affected by Brain Health Issues – Trish’s Story 

First Episode Center 

Trish was a healthy and active twenty-something working as a senior accountant at a tech company in the East Valley. She worked hard, graduated from college, got a good job, had a supportive family and a great group of friends. But none of those things prevented her from experiencing a life-altering psychotic episode. Thankfully, the professionals at Valleywise Health’s First Episode Center were there to help Trish through the ordeal.

“Like most things that happened throughout my life, I didn’t see this coming,” said Trish. “I was young and I didn’t know a lot about mental health, so this journey was a real eye-opener for me. I was just a normal person you might see walking on the street. Looking at me you wouldn’t know I was going through something significant, but that’s why it’s important for me to share my story and how I got through it with help from the great people at the First Episode Center.”

Like many young professionals, Trish was experiencing a lot of stressors in her life. She had just gotten out of a bad relationship, left her job and moved to another city. With all the changes, she started to experience fits of uncontrollable crying, she lost her motivation and there were many times she couldn’t leave her apartment or even get out of bed. She struggled to understand time and space and found herself in a position where she no longer realized what was going on in the world around her.

“My brain just stopped working,” she said. “That was the starting point of my journey and one of my worst days. I didn’t understand what my brain was going through and it affected everything – my job, my family, my dreams and my goals.”

After a severe psychotic episode, during which her friends and family were concerned for both her physical safely and mental well-being, Trish was routed to the First Episode Center for in-patient treatment.

“A lot of things were going on in my head that I couldn’t control so I was hospitalized,” said Trish. “I lost my freedom and lost the capacity to control what was going on in my life. I didn’t understand what ‘getting better’ meant or even what it looked like. There was a lot of uncertainty in my world at that time.”

At the First Episode Center, recovery is different for each person. Medical professionals use a team approach and develop individualized treatment plans. First Episode Center patients receive support in all facets of their lives including medical intervention, therapy, peer support, school and employment help, and goal-setting for a brighter future.

Initially, being hospitalized was hard, but Trish now considers it a blessing in disguise.

“That’s how I met the First Episode Family – what I call them. They are my second family because that’s how much they mean to me,” she said. “The medications helped my brain get better and back to where it was, but the staff held my hand through the journey and worked to make sure I was physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally supported.”

“The love of the staff at the First Episode Center helped me transform from a caterpillar to my butterfly self and I am so thankful they were there for me,” added Trish. “Because of them, I know the best is yet to come.”

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