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Patient story: a student's success


I am a 24 year-old female currently taking medication and in a stable state. It has been about five years since my first episode, and I want to tell you my story.

I decided to go away to college at the age of 18 to study and was very excited. Freshman year was fun, interesting and, at times, difficult. I met a variety of different people through my courses, my dormitory and my friends. Like many people in college, I smoked. I already smoked cigarettes prior to college and tried marijuana several times. In college, I started hanging out with people who smoked a lot and got into the habit of smoking both marijuana and cigarettes every day. I got very lazy, and I did not study much. So when finals weeks came along, I was procrastinating to the max. I mean, I was not sleeping very much or at all for several days at a time. Meanwhile, I was still smoking heavily and living off coffee constantly.

One early morning during finals week, my friend in my dormitory found me in front of the building standing alone at about 5am or 6am. She said I seemed very strange and was not very responsive. She became worried and called my parents, who were eight hours away. I was still not being responsive for hours and no one knew how long I was alone outside for. My parents drove the eight hours to make sure I was alright because it seemed serious. When my parents got there, they said I did not want to leave school because I had to study for finals, but they wanted to take me home.

They drove us the eight hours back. After almost a full 24 hours of sleeping, I did not recover. Apparently I was seeing and hearing things that were not really there. They sent me to the emergency room, and then sent me to Zucker Hillside Hospital.

From that moment on, I was an inpatient for about six weeks. My memory is very vague on what happened during and before the hospitalization. I received over six electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments and was heavily medicated. After about four weeks, the ECTs were significantly helping my condition, and I began responding much better. I was happy to finally go home and begin outpatient treatment.

I became part of the Early Treatment Program (ETP) team here at Zucker Hillside Hospital, which has been very helpful to me. I really liked the fact that the group sessions were very comfortable and relatable. Everyone there was going through very similar situations to mine and I met a lot of nice people. I became much more motivated to continue my college career, which I have since done.

I have been seeing my nurse practitioner and my social worker on a monthly basis. (I used to go every day!) I am currently on the lowest dose of my medication. Now I feel independent enough to just go once a week for prescriptions and to keep track of how I am doing. I actually enjoy going to see my nurse practitioner and social worker very much, since they are very supportive and help me through not only my mental condition, but also other things like emotional support. I am now in a Master's program and currently working part-time. I feel as though I have come such a long way, and I am very proud of myself and so are my family and friends.

I hope anyone reading this can feel some inspiration and hopefulness. I hope you will one day share your story to help out someone else, too.

ETP Patient

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