I’m probably the “oldest” (not in age 😛 ) SAFE alumni here.  I completed the program in December of 2001 at 15 years old- this was before the program was separated into an adolescent and adult program.  I also did the unofficial outpatient group before SAFE started their own group.  I think the program is different now than it was then… for the most part I have kept myself safe with a few relapses, I’ve learned the hard way that a relapse is not an excuse to give up.

I still struggle… more than I’d care to admit to.  Right now my biggest struggle is picking up the phone to find a new therapist, knowing full well I don’t have the money to pay OR the option not to go.  I have really bad PTSD and anxiety/depression that I’ve tried to ignore hoping it would go away.

I’m helping raise my brothers right now, a 3 y/o and 20 m/o, I watch them 40 to 60 hours a week, sometimes more if my mom is sick.  My friends keep telling me that I need to leave, that they aren’t my responsibility and that I need to go back to school and get a job that actually has a salary… they don’t understand that, emotionally, these babies are as much my babies as anyone else’s babies- I cannot abandon them.  Not now, they are so small and their care is so much more important than any ambitions that I have.

I do need to find a way to take care of myself, because I am suffocating under the stress and the pressure of raising them while forgoing my own needs.  I just need a lifeline… I need to know that it’s going to get better, that I’m not a failure at everything, that staying safe is worth constantly feeling like I’m about to die.

Nicole