- Find a Doctor
- Medical Services
- Patients & Visitors
- Classes & Events
- Health Library
- Why Choose Sharp?
During her intensive treatment at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital for severe depression, Catherine* gathered a cache of valuable tools from her therapists that continues to help her every day.
A successful real estate agent, wife and stepmother from San Diego, Catherine described depression as “being in an ugly, black hole that you can’t get out of, no matter how hard you try.”
While she appeared to function relatively well when it came to her work, health and relationships, she actually suffered bouts of depression throughout her life, which included days and entire weeks when she couldn’t force herself to eat, take a shower or even move off the couch.
After years of trying to ignore her own pain, she had “checked out of life” and was drinking heavily, but she didn’t dare ask for help.
“I was afraid that if I sought treatment, people would think I was weak or crazy,” she said. “I thought it was a horrible thing, so I kept it personal.”
Despite her need to keep her secret, Catherine went through a severe depressive episode in September 2006, and she checked into Sharp Mesa Vista, San Diego’s largest privately operated behavioral health hospital, and the premier provider of psychiatric and chemical dependency services in the county.
“Everything had come crashing down,” she said. “I had been drinking a lot; I wanted to end my life. I felt like I was outside of my body, like I was watching myself. Things that I normally cared about meant nothing to me. I didn’t know depression could be that bad, and I didn’t know what else to do.”
Catherine spent three weeks at Sharp Mesa Vista being monitored by mental health professionals and receiving medication and psychotherapy treatments. When psychiatrists determined she was strong enough to leave the inpatient program, she began intensive treatment as part of the Cognitive Intensive Outpatient Program (Cog-IOP).
“The Cog-IOP offers the patient tools to help cope with life stressors, and manage depression and anxiety,” said Colleen Auth, licensed clinical social worker, Cog-IOP, Sharp Mesa Vista. “Therapy is offered in a group format, which allows the patient an opportunity to relate to others with depression and anxiety and see how others manage their illness.”
In fact, Catherine’s interaction with a fellow patient during group therapy gave her the hope she needed to forge ahead toward recovery.
“I realized this person was just like me,” Catherine said. “That’s when a light went on. There was a glimmer of hope, and I realized I’m not crazy; I’m not ‘odd,’ I am normal.”
She learned to train her mind to think constructive thoughts, even if she wasn’t in the mood.
“I remember one of my therapists told me, ‘I know it’s cliché, Catherine, but try to fake it ‘til you make it.’ I didn’t think it would work, but, you know, he was right!” she said. “It works. If I act like I’m having fun, I actually can have fun. I realized that I could fool myself into believing what I tell myself, and then it just became part of what I do instinctively.”
Without her newfound tools, she said, she is not sure she would have made it through the difficulties of the last year, in which her mother died and her husband was in a debilitating accident.
“Things haven’t been easy, but they are manageable,” she said. “I have been sober now since Feb. 1, 2007, I exercise every day, and I’m very proud of that. I thought it would be harder than it really was to quit drinking.”
She credits Sharp with bringing her back from the brink of suicide, and she encourages anyone going through a difficult time to be stronger than the stigma, and to seek help.
“There is always hope,” she said. “There are always things you can do to improve your situation.”
*The patient’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
To learn more about Sharp's mental health services or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego psychiatrist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about mental health, visit Mental Health Disorders in Adult Health or read the Mental Health News archive.