Velma, a resident of the rural farming community of Immokalee, is a 34 year old mother of four who has witnessed unthinkable trauma, experienced devastating loss and dealt with overwhelming health issues that made her feel suicide was the only way to escape her pain.
She grew up with little education migrating through the farming communities across multiple states during picking season spending much of her childhood in the fields. Despite these economic hardships, she had an extremely close, loving family who enjoyed their happy, humble life.
Velma’s world was turned upside down when her stepfather, in a jealous rage, shot her mother five times in front her when she was just 12 years old. She had to grow up fast, quit school and work full time in the fields to support her family while her mother lay helpless in a coma for seven months and her step father was sent to jail. Through tears and with a shaky voice, she explains the impact this had on her, “I have terrible nightmares and it replays over and over in my head like a commercial.”
Surprisingly, her mother survived and they once again found happiness after her mother’s health improved and they were free from her stepfather’s rage and threats. Velma’s nightmares however, continued to haunt hurt and one night she had a “premonition” that her mother was going to die. Two days later, she and her baby newphew were killed by a drunk driver.
The loss was unbearable and she immediately felt she had nothing to live for. She adds, “I felt like my life was over. She understood me in ways that no one else could. She was my best friend.” While driving to the hospital, she recalls recklessly trying to swerve head on into a semi truck in oncoming traffic in order to “stop the pain and join her mother in heaven.”
Sadly, her experience with the unthinkable didn’t end there. History ultimately repeated itself when several years ago, her sister-in-law was murdered at the hands of an abusive partner and her father was later killed by a hit and run. She was then diagnosed with lupus causing her to live with pain daily preventing her from working and living the active life she always enjoyed. Tragedy and death surrounded her and her life came to a screeching halt.
Velma sunk into a deep depression and suffered endlessly from the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. She had an intense fear of sleep and the “premonitions” that she was sure would once again become reality.
Driven by a strong desire to be there for her own children and teach them to live life to its fullest potential, Velma finally asked for help from the David Lawrence Centers . She was referred to individual therapy and case management and began seeing a psychiatrist utilizing the new telemedicine technology.
She shares, “My doctor made me feel like he understood me and listened to me in a way that I needed to be heard. David Lawrence Centers helped me see that there was a way out and that I didn’t want to die.”
Because Velma’s health was unpredictable, she had difficulty making some of her appointments. Telemedicine gave Velma more convenient access to the doctor, allowing her to reschedule at the Immokalee Satellite office in a more timely fashion rather than having to coordinate transportation 35 miles inland to Naples while juggling four kids just to get her prescriptions. This greatly improved her medication management compliance and reduced her symptoms. She was finally able to sleep without fear and regulate her mood and anxiety while working weekly with her therapist and case manager on how to cope with her mental and physical health problems from day to day.
Velma adds, “David Lawrence Centers helped me be a better mother. I no longer live life in fear and don’t let things get me down. I am so grateful that David Lawrence Centers is there to help people like me who are lost. It is very helpful to know that you are not alone and there is support out there.”