By Zandy Dudiak, Communications coordinator
Danielle T. can’t wait to get back to work. She helps with the landscaping at her church and has some landscaping customers of her own. She might even see if she can help at the Dollar Tree where she worked as an assistant manager.
“I’m dedicated,” says Danielle, who is living at Pittsburgh Mercy’s Residential Treatment Facility for Adults (RTFA) on the South Side. “I work hard. I like to stay busy. I like to help people. I amaze people with my energy.”
COVID-19 isn’t what kept her from work the last few months. After being “super depressed,” she says she suffered a breakdown that prevented her from working.
“I have a life-threatening mental health condition that people don’t understand,” she explains.
Danielle, who is 54, shares that she has been treated for bipolar disorder at different psychiatric facilities around Pittsburgh. But, she credits Dr. Ann McAllister, a psychiatrist with Pittsburgh Mercy, for being the one who made the difference.
“This place got my medication right,” she says. “Even though you’re on the meds, you’ve got to fight that depression. My job is to prove to the doctor and the treatment team that I can manage this illness.”
Her next step is to move to a group home, a choice she is making on her own. She would rather live in the company of others than alone this time. And, because she is an “excellent chef,” she’s looking forward to cooking for the other residents there.
“It will be like a constant group,” she adds.
Danielle will continue with her 180-day treatment plan by participating in an intensive outpatient program at Bellefield Clinic. She plans to maintain a healthy lifestyle with light eating, exercise, using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) strategies, and hip-hop dancing and singing.
She has also designed a crisis plan so when she notices a low mood, she knows to get her medications adjusted. She uses mindful deep breathing as a way to cope with depression.
She also hopes to get back to her church, St. Athanasius in West View, where she was involved in many activities.
“I do a lot of prayer and read a lot of scripture,” she says. “I have a lot of faith in God and Jesus to get me through it. God never puts you through anything you can’t handle. He has plans for us. We are his holy children.”
Danielle enjoys being at the RTFA’s new location atop the Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center, in the former Trail Lane Apartments, because she has two large windows in her apartment where she watches the sun rise and set.
“I’m so tired of being inside,” she says. “I need light. If it gets dim, my mood gets low.”
When the RTFA moved, Danielle helped by sweeping the floor, organizing the books in the library, and cleaning the laundry area.
She appreciates the comfortable common area where the residents can watch television together.
Danielle felt glad in her heart that she could help with the move. “Because of them, I’ll go back to a great life. I’m eager to get back into life again.”
Danielle’s advice to others is to “stay in treatment, listen to your treatment team, be patient, and let them help you.”