“Dear Treating Physician: Thank you for the opportunity of seeing Emily Lerman in consultation. Her major depression has been complicated by extremely high levels of anxiety, exhaustion, muscle pain, nightmares and night sweats. I would suggest consideration of the following treatment….”
So began the letter of Dr. Robert M. Post.
Our daughter Emily, a graduate of Penn and Columbia’s Teachers College, had embarked upon her career at the well-regarded Agnes Irwin School outside Philadelphia. She seemed to be off to a great start, utilizing her dual degrees in elementary and special education to great effect in a prestigious, private school setting.
After one year of teaching, she had been tapped by the school’s principal to monitor other teachers’ classes with a view toward upgrading the curriculum to more cutting edge standards. Her previous depression seemed under control.
And then, suddenly, it wasn’t. She fell apart.
She could not get up in the morning. She quit her job. We closed her apartment and cancelled her lease. We brought her home so that we could comfort her. For months she was curled up in a ball on our living room couch. She cried most of the time. She wasn’t eating and was losing weight. She could not follow a television show, or even a conversation. She was up all night, every night. She was exhausted. She was not improving. We feared the worst.
We searched for doctors. She tried acupuncture, therapy and different meds. None seemed to help. The meds seemed to make things worse. My wife Charla would not give up searching for answers. She spent her days talking to friends and doctors, trying to find someone who could help. At some point, she was told by a psychiatrist to see a “guru,” a term which seemed anomalous in the mental health arena. There were two “gurus” in the area. One was Dr. Post. He saw patients once, for four hours, then provided a protocol for the “treating physician” to follow.
Within a few weeks after following Dr. Post’s instructions, Emily’s fog began to lift, and the sun began to peek through the clouds.
Once viable, she volunteered at Active Minds as an intern. She found an environment without stigma, where her experiences could be understood and appreciated without judgment.
As Emily put it: “In the midst of my depression, I discovered Active Minds. And that’s when things began to change. Active Minds provided for me that community of understanding that my friends and family, try as they might, simply couldn’t. Had I not connected with Active Minds, and through it gained access to a world that embraced and understood mental illness, I am not sure how my story would have ended. Active Minds gave me a place to go when I felt as though I belonged nowhere.”
Shortly thereafter, she took a job in New York City as an elementary school teacher in the public school system. She found a great therapist in New York. Now, after five years, Emily is thriving and loving her job and the kids she teaches. She has come full circle. It is amazing and we are immensely grateful.
Dr. Post’s letter concluded: “My very best wishes for the rapid and sustained improvement in this wonderful young woman’s severe anxiety/depressive disorder. “
His wishes, ours, and most important, Emily’s, have been realized. Active Minds was instrumental to the recovery process.
And Emily is, thankfully, home for the holidays.
Steven A. Lerman is Chairman of the Board at Active Minds, Inc.