Giselle’s Journey of Recovery

Finding Hope and Healing: How the Residential Program Saved My Life

March 1, 2024

My Life Before Attending the 10-day Residential Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program  

I took the first step on the road to recovery in October 2015. I was 31-years-old. Most of my life had been spent desperately to satisfy the demands of mentally unhealthy people. From a young age, I learned that I could mostly escape these people’s displeasure if I placed myself in the role of caregiver, but I only ended up heavily burdened. I was unable to lead a normal life–and I was drowning.

The year before I went to the 10-day program, I met with someone I had known as a child. He had personally gone through the program and took the time to share his experience with me. Over the following months, he continued to show genuine concern for my well-being and consistently encouraged me to consider participating in the residential program. But because I wasn’t a Christian, I felt very hesitant about going.

My mental health continued to worsen. For years I’d sought temporary relief by relying on Benadryl. To escape the overpowering emotions, ruminating thoughts, and impulsivity that ruled my life, I would break the pills into small pieces and consume them throughout the day.  

My anxiety symptoms continued to spiral and worsen. There were times when I spent entire weekends shivering in bed, not because I was sick, but because my anxiety had grown so severe that I couldn't control the trembling and shaking. I’d lie in bed, facing the wall, my teeth chattering incessantly. I would get out of bed on Monday morning and return to work with Benadryl in my purse.

In the weeks before I finally contacted Nedley Health's residential program, my mental health took a rapid decline. I was drowning in my attempts to satisfy these people’s demands and trapped in an enmeshed relationship with someone who very likely had a personality disorder I did not recognize. I was emotionally and mentally drained and had many physical symptoms of someone under extreme stress.

At one point, I had a 4-hour round trip drive to make. On the way home, I experienced a severe anxiety attack. I was driving through winding mountain roads, and I kept hearing a voice in my head shouting at me to drive off the road and “end it all.”  I said out loud “I don’t want to!” and the voice shouted back “What do you have to live for?” Mile upon mile, the voice shouted at me as I kept my eyes glued to the road and my hands glued to the steering wheel. I had no reason to live, but I knew that I didn’t want to die.

When I reached home, I collapsed in bed and remained there for the next two days in the dark. I didn’t eat anything. I simply lay in bed with my face to the wall with a massive migraine and feeling physically and mentally depleted. I knew I had to seek help or I would lose my life. I finally decided that I would make the call I had long avoided.

By this point, I had delayed going to residential program an entire year, but after the massive panic attack and dissociative episode, I knew I had to go. I believed that Dr. Neil Nedley could help me. I made the call, enrolled, paid the fee, and booked my flights. For the first time in nearly a decade, I was hopeful. I knew that we would be given a vegan diet, so the night before I flew out, I made sure to have a big cheeseburger with extra fries and a pint of beer.  

Some of My Experiences During the Program

When I arrived at the 10-day program, I was pleasantly surprised to see my room. It was comfortable and private. I was hopeful, but also deeply ashamed. I hated that I was “crazy” and needed to be a part of program. I also questioned how my mental health had become so unstable. As I looked around me, there were participants who had endured what I considered genuine trauma, such as the loss of loved ones or physical violence. I didn’t yet understand the magnitude of the trauma and dysfunction I had experienced because it had been so normalized in my family.  

I was pleasantly surprised by how involved Dr. Nedley was in the program. I had thought he was just the poster boy; I didn’t realize how truly hands-on he would be throughout the 10 days. Within a few days of arriving, I began to experience relief from anxiety and depression. Simply being cut off from my phone (and 10+ stressful calls a day from my mother), resting, exercising, and eating healthy had dramatically improved my wellbeing in a short amount of time.  

During the program, I was scheduled to meet with the pastor for regular counseling. He patiently reasoned with me to forgive. I remember how set I was in my heart that I would never forgive. I decided that I would take all the recommended supplements, I’d get a dog, I’d exercise, I’d buy a bike, I’d go to therapy, but I would never forgive.  

Life After the Program  

The 10 days ended, but I left equipped with new skills (and hope). As soon as I landed in San Diego, I went straight to a health food store and loaded up on all the recommended supplements and foods. I decided not to drink coffee or alcohol and got rid of my “medical marijuana.” I scheduled weekly therapy. I also purchased a bike and continued getting up early to exercise. The two things, though, that had been recommended by Dr. Nedley that I refused to do were: to accept God and forgive.

For a while, I diligently followed Dr. Nedley’s plan of care and experienced significant improvement. Fast forward to July 2016, I moved from California to upstate New York. At the encouragement of my therapist, it was time to break free from the toxic family structure I was trapped in. I had a master's degree but was working an entry level job in the family business. I got a job as a hospital administrator in New York and finally got away on my own. However, I experienced intense guilt trips and shame for trying to have my own life. I continued to be constantly berated and belittled me for my “selfish” act in “abandoning” mentally unhealthy people I left behind in San Diego. Yet, I knew that if I ever wanted to have a normal life or experience healing and growth that I had to move.

Although I had closely followed Dr. Nedley’srecommendations, I was relying on self-sufficiency–and so, over time, I began to compromise. Coffee, wine, meat, dairy, burning sage, TV, irregular exercise; little by little, I was slipping back into old habits. Because I wasn’t suffering as before, I justified these decisions.  

Eventually, the Lord won me over. I decided to become a Christian and was baptized in 2020. I now had a new reason to abstain–to honor God–and because of that, I had extra help from the Lord to stay away from food, drinks, and habits that are harmful to my wellbeing.

My Life Now

I am now almost 40 years old. I am married with 3 young children. I never thought I would get married. I never thought I would be a mother. I never thought that I could experience joy. Instability, intense shame, drama, chaos, guilt, and dysfunction were all I’d ever known. I now have self-control, increased empathy and emotional intelligence, stability, and maturity. I’ve learned what it is to forgive—no, forgiveness does not automatically equal reconciliation. Some days I forgive my past abusers fifty times in one morning. I have learned that forgiveness is a choice and an act of faith. I know that God is fighting for me, but I also realize that He is striving to save those who have repeatedly harmed me.  

Over time, as I have tried to make sense of my developmental years, I have accepted that I am very likely personality disordered. For a time, I was discouraged, because every article I could find on the subject essentially stated that there is no recovery from childhood trauma. Yet, I kept thinking back to what I had learned at the residential program—that we can heal and rewire our brains.  

I followed what I learned in 2015 at the program; I was intent on “rewiring” my brain. I feel like a totally different person. God has lovingly provided significant healing and growth. The reality is that life didn’t suddenly become easier than it was before I went to the 10-day residential program.  Some things have become a lot harder. It was clear that the one I had been enmeshed with expected me to “get back in line,” that the changes I had made were moving me beyond their control. That person has used every tool in their toolbelt: rejection, smear campaigns, attacks from others, faux sincerity regarding my supposed “mental disturbances,” and silent treatment—all tactics that had previously worked. Well, I also have a “toolbelt” or skills to handle disappointment, estrangement, familial aggression, and rejection. I no longer succumb to the disorienting chaos, accusations, and drama. I am no longer a slave to turbulent emotions and ruminating thoughts. I am free and I sleep well.

My Advice to You

Listen, friend. Everything changed the minute I was under the care of Dr. Nedley. If you have experienced similar anxiety symptoms I had narcissistic abuse, I wholeheartedly encourage you to not delay. You can experience healing and growth. And God will do for you what He has so lovingly done for me–in the place of shame, there is joy and peace.  

Dr. Nedley didn’t just change my life–he saved my life. My only regret is that I delayed going. I wish I had gone sooner! If you’re on the fence, consider this your push! Call today and take that first step towards recovery. I had never experienced joy before. Isn’t that wild? Now, joy is a daily part of my life.  

Thank you, Dr. Nedley and may God continue to bless the ministry of the 10-day residential Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program!

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About the author

Giselle Davey shares her testimony from upstate New York to encourage others that there is hope!