Gail Taylor, 63, struggled throughout her life as a rape survivor and a victim of abuse from several people in her life. After 25 years of sobriety, she’s surprised, yet very grateful, that she’s still alive.
Diving head first into drugs and alcohol to soothe it, her pain only festered into anger which led to her making bad choices, getting arrested and jailed numerous times and lashing out on the people she loved.
For a long time, Taylor felt that people in her life dismissed the idea of her needing help. After taking matters into her own hands in her 30s, Taylor decided to seek out help on her own.
In 2009, she discovered Catalyst Life Services (formerly known as The Center), and her life changed for the better.
“I was really messed up, so they helped me to really find out who Gail was and really helped me to become a better mom, a better grandma, just a better person in taking care of my responsibilities that, at one time, I was not doing,” Taylor said.
Catalyst Life Services provides many services including: mental health and crisis services, addiction services, vocational services and audiology and deaf services. People diagnosed with a mental heal condition, are about twice as likely as the general population to have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
“A lot of the things we’ve learned about something like talk therapy in general is that it actually helps to change brain chemistry and helps people to feel calm,” said Erin Schaefer, Executive Director of Catalyst Life Services.
For people who are stressed, who are anxious and who are concerned, working with Catalyst will give them the opportunity to talk through their situation and process their thoughts and feelings. Once leaving Catalyst, it’s often reported that the patient will feel more calm, more centered and have more ideas about ways to manage the stress they’re feeling in their lives.
“Your brain can only stuff things down so long, so being able to talk about things allows your brain to process through that and get it out so that it doesn’t have to be in there anymore, at least not to the same extent,” Schaefer said.
It’s important to have somebody else who can take a peek inside another person’s world and help them understand what small changes could be made that can be helpful to getting them back on track, according to Schaefer.
“People are really struggling, and what happens is then our services become all the more important. Because when people are stressed, then the coping skills are some of the number one things that go out of the window,” Schaefer said.
After being diagnosed with bipolar and manic depression, Taylor set on the path to change her ways and better herself. On the start of her journey, she would call her counselor every week, but over the years she’s gotten down to checking in every two weeks.
Through uncertain times, Taylor relies on her coping skills to keep her from falling off track, which includes: gardening, tending to her animals, and going fishing with her grandson.
“I’m more family oriented, I’m more stable. I mean, some days you have off days, or your emotions are out of whack, but they taught me to use my coping skills,” Taylor said.
Over the years, Taylor has used the crisis and addiction services, as well as spoken with therapists and psychiatrists. With COVID-19 still lingering, she’s also using Catalyst’s newly implemented telehealth services, which have been beneficial for her as she continues to practice social distancing.
When opening up to her therapist, Taylor said more often than not she feels like she’s speaking with a friend.
“I don’t really hang with a lot of people anymore since you change your ways and everything…but I don’t really have a problem with it. As long as I’ve got my family and a few people that I work with, I’m doing good.”
After gaining stability in her life, Taylor remains thankful and humble for receiving the help she needed from Catalyst in order to turn her life around and start fresh.
“Take it one day at a time, that’s all you can do,” Taylor said, offering her advice to others who are struggling. “Don’t dwell on stuff that’s gonna make you depressed. Just try to get out of that and change your thoughts.”
Catalyst remains open for anyone and ready to serve anyone looking to seek treatment.
“We are here to support the residents of this community during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Laura Montgomery, CEO of Catalyst Life Services. “This crisis can significantly affect mental health for everyone and produce feelings of sadness, fear, depression or anxiety. Catalyst is here to help.
“We have a 24-hour crisis helpline (419-522-HELP) with trained professionals that can help individuals access our services. We have adapted to provide many of our services via telehealth. Initial appointments as well as ongoing appointments can now be conducted over the phone from the comfort of your own home.”