Maria, a self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl, is a beautiful 16-year-old who grew up as the bubbly center of attention. Tragedy hit when she watched her father take his last breath after he was involved in a deadly motorcycle accident on her street. She immediately developed severe depression and suffered anxiety. She began isolating, quit cheerleading, lost interest in her friends and became immersed in feelings of loneliness, insecurities and self-loathing.

When her mother began dating, Maria acted out and they fought terribly. She smoked marijuana daily, and let her grades slip. Her mother felt helpless and feared she failed as a parent. After a huge fight, Maria wrote a heart wrenching note explaining just how low she really was and when she discovered a knife under Maria’s pillow, she finally sought help.

Fearing her daughter believed she had nothing left to live for and may do something drastic, she brought Maria to the Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit where she began her journey to wellness. After discharge, she was referred into the Children’s Community Action Team (CAT) program which provides an array of mental health and other necessary family support services provided by a multidisciplinary, specialized treatment team consisting of clinicians, case managers, mentors and a medical team.

Funding for the program is provided by the State of Florida and was championed by longtime mental health advocate Representative Matt Hudson.

She began weekly family and individual therapy session, met weekly with her mentor and began seeing a psychiatrist to address her depression and anxiety. As her mood began elevating, she stepped out of the safety of her isolated bedroom and began enjoying life again. She has a new boyfriend whom her mother adores, is spending more time socializing with friends and her relationship with her brother is stronger than ever.

Maria attributes most of her success to the constant support she receives weekly from her mentor and therapists adding, “Knowing that I could be 100 percent honest and open right from the start was an amazing feeling. Coming to David Lawrence Centers has made me a better a person.”

Today, with the help of a tutor and staying away from marijuana, her grades are better and her relationship with her mother is improving every day. Their family is healing and they found the hope they desperately needed. Maria adds, “I’ve learned that depression can be conquered. Although some days, I feel sad there are many more days when I reminded of all the reasons I’m lucky and blessed to be alive.

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