Tanya McCray: A Life Changed
People reach out to KBH for help and support for a variety of reasons. They may be experiencing a chronic mental illness, a substance use disorder, a personal struggle, or just need some extra support in caring for a loved one with behavioral health concerns. Tanya’s story is one that most parents fear – having a child who has severe behavioral health issues.
Tanya didn’t have an easy road to adulthood. Born in New Hampshire, she moved around a bit until she landed in Oklahoma at age 17, where she began her trajectory into abusive relationships. Five children later, her husband’s abusive behavior continued to escalate until it became apparent she would die if she stayed. Tanya was able to get out of the relationship and flee to Maine, but she was not able to obtain custody of her children, and needed to leave them behind.
When Tanya settled in Maine, although she yearned for the children she had to leave behind, she felt that she was a survivor, that she had somehow persevered. She had another child, and as he grew, a very familiar pattern of anger and abuse began to emerge. By the time her son was 16 years old, he “was getting out of control” and had already been placed at various times in residential services, been hospitalized, and had multiple assault charges. As she described her desperation to help him, amid being fearful for her own safety, she noted “I tried to do it on my own, but my way wasn’t working. I couldn’t do it alone.”
Tanya reached out to KBH for the support she needed for her son. She began seeing an outpatient therapist, enlisted the help of a case manager, as well as medication clinic services. She realized she needed to prioritize taking care of herself. She began to feel empowered. She has been making friends for the first time in a long while, and enjoying the life she was scared to live. She has moved into a two-bedroom apartment with the goal of having her son be able to live with her, but not at the expense of her own health and wellness. “We take this one day at a time. I can hold my head up and make today a better day.”
When asked what she would like people who are struggling with a personal or family mental health concern to know, Tanya very eloquently replied, “I know people look at the glass ½ full or ½ empty, but the truth is, the glass is refillable! You may need to drink from it, but by asking for help from others you can fill it back up again.”