In One Short Hour, Whole Story
On any given day at the Lighthouse, sometimes within as little time as an hour, lives are transformed. On one particular day this past December, three…what we like to refer to as “mini-miracles”…occurred in one short hour. First, a new client walked in our offices in desperate need of help. Her and her husband had both lost their jobs and had just received an eviction notice. She did not know specifically what to ask for, only that she needed help with housing and food. She had two children, and while waiting to see a case manager to assist her with her needs, our receptionist and a therapist offered Christmas assistance as well. Due to the many wonderful community donations we received, Lighthouse staff members were able to help this mom create a Christmas for her children just days before the holiday. She cried tears of joy as she picked out cars and trucks that she knew her children would love. As she thanked the staff she stated, “We were not planning to have a Christmas!” In the end, she left that day not only with Christmas presents, but with vital information on how to obtain needed food and housing assistance, diapers for her children, as well as a great deal of hope for the future.
A few minutes later, a past client whom we had not seen in a while walked into Lighthouse. The receptionist remembered him as having received therapeutic counseling services and past Christmas assistance. The man presented her with four candy bars and stated, “I want you to know how much you have helped me this last year, I don’t have much to offer, but I wanted to say thank you. Happy Holidays!” Our clients rarely forget the impact of the services they receive at Lighthouse, nor do we forget the faces or the stories of the people we serve. As if this were not enough testimony to illustrate how Lighthouse changes lives, another past client walked in the door moments later. She had an appointment to meet with her case manager to receive a new car seat for her newborn. Our car seat program offers no-cost car seats to families in need so that no child will ever have to ride in a car unsafely. After working with her case manager, the woman insisted on making a $1.00 donation, which she stated was all she could afford at the time. While there is no charge for any services received at the Lighthouse, it appeared important for this client to be able to donate this simple dollar. With tears of gratitude in her eyes, she left Lighthouse knowing her infant would be secured safely each car ride. One less thing to worry about for this new mom, who was soon headed back to work.
Sometimes seemingly small acts of kindness and hope add up to changed lives in miraculous ways… all in about an hour.
Client Success Story
Working as a psychotherapist has many rewards as well as challenges. Some clients come in desperately seeking help but are unwilling or unable to make changes to their life in order to create a new experience. On the other hand, most clients finish therapy stating that they feel much better about life and express sincere gratitude to the therapist for his/her assistance; and in turn, the therapist will clarify that really the client has truly done all the hard work. That being said, a psychotherapist rarely is presented with hand-written documented evidence expressing the client’s life-changing experience.
Below is a story of a client who offered this very thing; we will call her Jane (not her real name). Jane stated in therapy that she was suicidal after experiencing dramatic changes in her life that she admittedly created by her own choices. She further stated that she carried a suicide note in her wallet, had everything planned out, and that she has gone as far as to “almost” carry out her plan. Knowing this, each week she entered into a verbal agreement with me to not commit suicide. Six months after she began therapy, she felt ready for discharge, stating that her life had changed and she was no longer suicidal. During her discharge appointment, Jane brought in a her journal sharing her writing just before her therapy sessions began.
I’ll let her give you the details…
Oh my dear God! What have I done!!!??? I am now fully aware and appalled at what I have done to my life, as I have known it, for the past 55+ years. It will never be the same.
Due to my actions, I have lost sooooo much!!!!! My beautiful home in an elite community, all my savings, my driving privileges, my car, a life-long friend who I thought would NEVER leave my side, and my perfect credit rating. I am now $95,000 in debt and will have to file bankruptcy. I don’t even have enough money left to file! Bill collectors call daily. I am facing jail time and restitution fees. OMG, I hurt another human being!!!!!! My own Dad and Mom have washed their hands of me ☹.
That pretty much says it all. They are right. I get it. No more family gatherings, birthdays, holidays, etc…. Phone calls aren’t even returned. I OWE them desperately. They devoted their lives to raise us. I gave up an incredible career. Chose not to go to college or have children. Two HUGE mistakes which, at my age, would be very hard to rectify. Because of my health problems, I can’t even enjoy going out to eat. No more world travel.
I understand why some people who lost everything in the stock market crash of the ‘20s committed suicide. I now have to rely on public transportation. A large number of people on the bus scare me. People often comment that I don’t “look like” I should be riding a bus; whatever that means. They also say the same thing at the probation office. Jail time is looming. I can’t even ride in an elevator due to the claustrophobic feeling. How will I ever be able to handle being locked in a jail cell? I am no longer allowed to travel or go to any business that serves alcohol. I will be on formal probation for seven years. How will I ever find a decent career with a record like this?
I am walking around in a “SHOCK LIKE” state. It feels like I am floating above my body. Sometimes, I feel like maybe, I am dead and just in a different realm; some sort of third dimension.
Suicidal thoughts plague me! My biggest concern is researching a way to do it with as little pain as possible and making sure I get it RIGHT the first time. I don’t agree that suicide is selfish. I am hurting, and have hurt those that I love TOO MUCH. If I am gone then I can no longer cause harm. Truly, I can’t take much more. I’m spent! Oh yeah, and a 35-year marriage is crumbling.
When Jane presented me with the above journal entry at the time of her discharge, she stated that she could not believe how close she came to going through with her suicide plan. After about four months of treatment, she stated that she had taken the suicide note out of wallet and no longer wanted to die. And so, our final session ended and off she went to live her life. I thought I would likely not see her again as a client, and was simply amazed at her resolve and growth; but this is not the end of the story. A few days later Jane brought in another journal entry that she wrote post-discharge.
I would like to take this opportunity to say, “thank you” to Lighthouse Counseling and
my therapist Deborah for providing services that, in my humble opinion, SAVED MY LIFE!
OK, where do I begin? When I contacted Lighthouse over six months ago, I was seriously on the verge of suicide. I had planned it out in great detail, refined it daily, and had begun to have “dry runs,” getting closer each time.
Let me attempt to explain how I got to this point. I have pretty much lived my life on the edge as long as I can remember, constantly moving from one thing to “fix” me to another. It has been an affluent and exciting life, but of course a life lived on the edge will, most likely, eventually implode.
For me that happened last year when I took an overdose of a medication and drove my car, hitting another car, injuring the driver and totaling his vehicle. In California this means you will go to trial and may end up with a felony conviction.
My fall was pretty much downhill from there. The overwhelming guilt and shame I felt led to a 9-day stay in a psych-ward and then months of intense therapy. Although I learned a lot about “mindfulness,” I still couldn’t forgive myself and therefore planned to commit suicide.
I contacted Lighthouse as a last resort to appease family and friends. My thoughts at the time were, “Well at least I can say I tried everything and it just didn’t work so don’t blame me for killing myself.”
I didn’t expect to meet a therapist like Deborah. I have very little memory of initially seeing here as I was truly walking around in shock and still focused the majority of my time thinking about suicide.
When I first met Deborah, I was disillusioned. I wanted a “woe is me” therapist, LOL. After a couple of months, I stopped focusing on the daily review of the suicide plan and just decided to follow her advice from week-to-week.
By the third month, I was looking forward to our weekly sessions, hearing what she had to say, passing things by her and always leaving with “homework.” The homework gave me something to focus on even thought it was still extremely hard.
I will never forget the day I walked into her office and said, “Deborah, I am no longer in shock. I am now fully awake!” That was huge! Of course, with it came a whole new set of issues but at least I was awake. That is when the healing and assistance from Deborah was most beneficial. There is no doubt that it is because of her guidance that I was able to come out of shock. I did everything she told me to do. Her guidance, I now realize, helped me to get through an eight-day jail sentence.
My hope is that my story can, in some way, help others. Deborah is the most incredible therapist I have had the honor of knowing. Bottom line, she saved my life. I have no doubt that many others have had wonderful experiences with Lighthouse’s wonderful services.