Every year, nearly 45 million Americans battle mental illness. On Wednesday, staff and area-clinicians celebrated the grand opening of a new behavioral clinic in Round Rock. Our Stef Manisero shows us why doctors and patients say recovery is achievable.
"I was raped by my boyfriend, and I didn’t know that at the time,” said Jenni Schaefer.
Rape. It's a word Jenni is just starting to get comfortable with.
"We had had discussions that I did not want to have sex with him, I was not ready,” Jenni said.
Jenni spent two years in a sexually abusive relationship.
But she says, like so many others in her shoes, she was in denial.
"They think, for instance, if the person who raped them was their boyfriend, that it was okay, or if the person who raped them was their husband, it was okay,” said Jenni.
And like so many others, Jenni says she froze.
"So we don’t say anything, we say nothing. And then, of course, we beat ourselves up for 10 years afterwards that we didn’t say anything,” Jenni said.
Ten years. That's how long Jenni says she was haunted by the trauma.
From nightmares, to anger, to dissociation, she says the symptoms tortured her.
"Many people out there may know what it’s like if someone comes up and kind of scares you, and you go, ‘AH’. Well, I would go, ‘AH’ if nothing was around me to scare me, yet the memory of the trauma was there,” said Jenni.
Until a decade later, when she decided she deserved her life back.
"And I’m so happy,” said Jenni. “Today when I wake up, the world is not out to get me."
Now, Jenni works as a recovery advocate at the Insight Behavioral Health Center.
In a given year, about one in every five adults experience mental illness.
"I think that it’s very real, and that it can be very normal, right? Everybody experiences levels of anxiety and depression,” said Dr. Allison Chase, a psychologist at the Insight Behavioral Health Center in Round Rock.
Doctors say with the right help, recovery is attainable.
"When there’s interference in life, you need to get those symptoms taken care of, you need to address them so you can go out and continue to go to school or work or be with your family,” Chase said.
Just ask Jenni.
"Everything was a threat, positive things were a threat, and today, I can breathe, my shoulders are down and I’m happy,” Jenni said.
The clinic treats patients ages 13 and older. One in every five adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 experience a severe mental disorder at least once.
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