Client's journey punctuated by perseverance and determination
- on May 15, 2017
Note: Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center will observe Mental Health Awareness Month in May with stories of hope and recovery.
Suicide is something Lisa Doffing had thought about for a long time. Since she was 9, in fact.
She’s now 49.
“I remember telling my step-mother and her boyfriend that I didn’t want to live anymore,” Doffing said. “I never engaged in self-harm, like cutting or anything, but the desire to be at peace was very much present in my life.”
Today, Doffing is finally at peace with her life.
With the help of her therapist at the Bert Nash Center and the dialectical behavior therapy program, where she learned mindfulness and coping skills, she is at a far better place.
“Because of the skills that DBT has taught me, my level of anxiety has gone way down,” Doffing said. “It has accomplished the goal of what is supposed to do for people, which is to learn to self-regulate and to build a life worth living.”
For years, Doffing didn’t think life was worth living.
“By the time I was 9, I had already witnessed a lot of domestic violence,” Doffing said. “I had been sexually traumatized and I had witnessed my six older siblings be violated in numerous ways. It was pretty much sustained trauma on all levels, sexual, mental and emotional.”
Doffing grew up in an upper-middle class neighborhood in Wichita. By outside appearances, she said everything looked normal.
“All of this was going on at home but then we had to act as if nothing was going on,” Doffing said.
After her parents divorced, Doffing changed schools 10 times. She still managed to earn good grades and go to college. She made the Dean’s List as a student at the University of Kansas. But, emotionally, she was struggling.
“By the time I reached KU, I pretty much broke down,” Doffing said.
She was in her early 20s when she came to the Bert Nash Center for the first time. She was suffering from anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder and had dropped out of school.
It took her 15 years, but she eventually managed to earn a degree in Human Development and Family Life. Doffing was divorced in 2013 and started coming to Bert Nash again.
“My experience at Bert Nash has been excellent,” she said. “My thinking is clearer. I’m able to make better decisions and I just feel more at ease in the world.”
Her therapist, Mac Crawford, commended Doffing for being committed to her therapy and doing the work.
“Working with Lisa has truly been a pleasure. The journey through her recovery was punctuated by perseverance and determination. It was remarkable to see her commitment not just during session, but in the application of the work outside of the center, and the dedication to achieving her treatment goals,” Crawford said. “Throughout the process Lisa was open and engaged. She went above and beyond to support others, whether it was with other clients in group sessions, or in bringing fresh flowers to the front desk staff. She was able to take the treatment and expand on it in a manner that allowed her to grow from her experience.”
Doffing is a florist and a painter. Art is therapy for her. So are animals. She volunteers at a horse farm, where she works with children. And she hopes to become certified with a therapy dog.
“Bert Nash has really helped me break down the barrier and all the stigma that came with my story,” Doffing said. “I can’t even put into words how valuable that is.”
As traumatic as her past was, Doffing is excited about the future.
“I’ve always believed there was hope,” Doffing said. “But now, with the help from Bert Nash, I really truly know I have a solid future. I took suicide off the table. It doesn’t plague me in my daily life anymore. I’m very thankful for that. By sharing my story, I hope it will help others know that they are not alone. “