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Christina’s Story

Before I came to Penn Foundation, my life had become dark. I had taken a path that led me to lose myself, my son, my family, and my friends. I lost all hope. All I could see were the substances in front of me, and my only thoughts of the future were how I was going to get more. I had been fighting with myself my entire life, and one day, I realized that I would never win. The drugs had stopped numbing my pain. I was lost and defeated.

That is when I decided to come to Penn Foundation. It was a simple action, born out of desperation. The only thing I knew in that moment was that I didn’t want to die.

I walked into Penn Foundation tired, cold, and empty, but I was immediately greeted with warmth and kindness. I had forgotten what it felt like to be accepted. I had forgotten what it felt like to be surrounded by people who saw my pain and genuinely wanted to help ease it. That was exactly what I needed in that moment, and it made me feel comfortable enough to stay, at least for that day.

I began the detox process, and the nursing staff was just as warm and kind as the people who greeted me when I arrived. They were so caring, acknowledging what I was going through and always asking how they could help. They understood, they sympathized, and they made sure I had everything I needed to be as comfortable as possible. When I finished the detox process, I began seeing a therapist. My years of pain came pouring out, but my therapist again showed me kindness and compassion and, most importantly, no judgement. I continued to stay in treatment.

I had the opportunity to garden and to participate in community events such as attending an Iron Pigs baseball game, mental health awareness events, and a recovery walk. These opportunities reminded me what “real life” could look like for me. I had good people surrounding me, and for the first time in years, I felt hope.

While I was in active addiction, my mom died of overdose. I hadn’t taken the time to grieve her. One day, my therapist offered to walk me to a patio on the Penn Foundation campus, a patio that my family had built in memory of my mom, where I could read something I wrote about my mom. That was one of the most healing experiences I had – finally being able to acknowledge her made me feel like I was becoming the woman she wanted me to be.

After completing treatment, I remained connected to Penn Foundation. I joined the Alumni Fellowship, participating in their meetings and holiday wrapping activity. I now live in my own apartment and have a job, and I’m rebuilding relationships with my family and friends. I can now be the mother my son deserves.

I’m no longer filled with darkness. I am light today. I am so grateful to Penn Foundation for being one spark of many that helped to light the fire of recovery within me.