The TK Willow Experience

Flying, soaring into the clouds of the unknown

The hum of the motor bringing calmness to my broken spirits

Feeling jittery and unsure, anxious and shaky

Feet on the ground walking me through the corridors that would lead me to my baggage

The baggage that held the only belongings I would have for no set period of time

Dialing, listening for the voice on the other end to say hello and me responding, “I am here,

where do I find you?”

Scared, alone, asking myself what happened and how did I get here? How did I get to this point?

Lifting my feet one at a time into the van that would drive me to the place I would be resting my

weary head

 

I walked through the doors petrified

Being welcomed with, “hello, welcome to Timberline Knolls”

Signing papers, telling pieces of my story, saying goodbye to the only comfort I had from home

Kissing his lips and hugging him tight, not wanting to let him go

I was asked what goal I wanted to achieve during my stay, I replied, “to find my voice again and

to speak it loud enough to hear, and to heal from the traumas, the many traumas in my life.”

Then BAM, I was having second thoughts about the adventure I was about to begin

A different van arrived to take me to Willow Lodge, getting a small tour of the grounds along the

way

Standing at the door, waiting to be swiped in

And this is where the adventure began

 

Friendly faces and a warm hello brought me a tiny bit of comfort

I was assigned a lodge buddy who would show me around

This is the kitchen, the laundry room, group rooms, and a bed

The staff and the nurses introduced themselves, helping to stop the swirling in my head

Then there I sat, alone and afraid

People staring and coming up to me to talk

Overwhelmed is the word that says it best

The swirling of racing thoughts were dancing in my head

 

Searching for safety in a place that was unknown

Men walking in through the doors scared me to death

Wanting to run and hide in the safety of my cocoon

Watchful eyes and shaking limbs, trying to work through what was coming up from within

Finding safety, grounding myself, working so hard to remember to breathe

Was this really the adventure I wanted to begin

 

The panic sung loudly, not knowing how this ever happened

Denial has been my drug, my best friend, it kept me numb from the daunting past of my traumas

I knew that I was about to be faced with the demons I had worked so hard to ignore

I prayed, God did I pray, I prayed for the strength I needed to get me through this so-called

adventure

My prayers were answered, I made it through that first day, and I made it through the 82 days

following that first day

After day one or maybe even two I was met by therapists, the doctor, a dietitian too

I had check-ins, not once but twice a day, with those really cool people called the BHAs

I attended groups where I learned to speak freely, feeling what I shared really did matter

I mattered!

 

During my groups I learned DBT skills, coping skills, and ways to process my emotions

I was educated on codependency, trauma, and relapse prevention, to name a few

I took part in art therapy, dance movement therapy, and reflective journaling too

I learned that there are more ways to express myself than through words

I learned about the way my body moved and what it could mean

I learned how to express myself using paints, collage materials, and paint pens

Best of all I learned to express the intense emotions that bubbled up within

I threw stuff, God did I throw stuff…apples, sticks, and very large rocks

Who would have known how freeing this would feel?

But I enjoyed it, and I will use those skills again

 

DBT, values, and ADT were all skills and knowledge I learned

Some were harder to understand and put into practice

What I did learn was that I have a lot of information to help me along the way

I am determined, so very determined to use these skills as effectively as I can

I have been blessed with the skills to work through, understand, and express my needs

Whether I express these needs silently, written, or through spoken word

I know I can do this, I know I can, and I will do this

 

The groups were not the only part of my healing journey

I had therapists, a dietitian, nurses, and BHAs all rooting me on as part of my support team

My therapist met with me three times a week

Talking about emotions, my needs, and where I want to be when I leave TK, when I learn to fly

free

 

The dietitian was a blessing in disguise

She taught me about “health at every size”

Although I disagreed, there is no way this could be

I was chubby, and there is no other way to be seen

She taught me that it was OK to eat and how important a balanced meal should be

She taught me that my eating disorder didn’t define me

I was special no matter how God made me to be

 

Then there were the BHAs, my listening ears

 

I sat many days both morning and night talking about my feelings, my sleep, and if I was doing

alright

They lent me ears to listen and to vent, offering sympathy, compassion, and just being a friend

I couldn’t have asked for better people to help me along the way

After all, they became like family during my very long stay

Who could forget both Sharon and Katie

They were my true heroes during my stay

They helped me understand my emotions and how to label my feelings

They helped me notice what was coming up within and the responses that were given

They told me it was OK to be happy, sad, and even angry too

They told me not to hold on to shame and disgust and to really know the facts

The facts of what was done

 

Sharon and I spent our time talking things through

While Katie and I did individual therapy

Both of these therapists offered me different experiences

I learned a lot from both

Sharon helped me accept the little one who lives inside of me and how fun it is to watch

squirrels

Katie shared her latest dance moves with me

All joking aside, I learned how my body responds to different events

And how important it is to breathe and not hold your breath

 

Then there were the nurses, the very lovely nurses

They passed out my meds, took my blood pressure and temps

They listened to my concerns, the worries in my head

Offering me support in any way that they could, whether for headaches, anxiety, or some extra

support

 

How could I forget Chaplin Liz

She was the first person I stood on the bridge with

We talked about God and forgiveness and my spirit within

She is such a kind, loving soul, always willing to give

I was always excited to see her arrive at the lodge

I found comfort and safety in the presence of her being

She will forever be very special to me

 

So as you can see, I had the best team of supports

Together they all helped to make my stay special in every single way

From tolerable, to comfortable, or holding space to cry

I will never forget my team of heroes

Because without them I wouldn’t have thrived

 

Now on to me, the old me, the new me

Arriving at TK I was broken and weak

I had lost my voice, my voice that helped me speak

I was afraid of the challenges that I may have to take

What if I failed, disappointed or let down myself, my family

How would I ever forgive, forgive thyself

 

Through the hours of therapy, groups, and the support of the friends I made there

I learned to speak loud enough to be heard

I learned about trust and how to begin to love myself

I learned the importance of self-care, boundaries, and what my values could be

I learned about feelings and emotions, and how DEAR MAN could help me

These are all just stepping stones to finding the real me

 

Not everything was unicorns and rainbows during my time there

I learned how hard it was to leave those I had grown to care about

I met so many good people, both staff and residents, from near and far

Able to keep in touch with the new friends I had found

But leaving the staff with a quick goodbye was painful and filled with dread

Having BPD and a genuine heart made forming attachments so easy

However, walking away from those attachments caused heartache and pain

Wishing that I could have just one more minute, one hour, one more dance

I will, however, hold on to those wonderful spirits that affected my life in the most positive ways

I just wish it didn’t happen because of having to walk away

 

I never would have thought I would have spent my wedding anniversary, birthday, Thanksgiving,

and Christmas at TK

I am just lucky knowing I was not forgotten even through my loneliness and sadness of being

away

So here’s to TK, good old Timberline Knolls

Thanks for the adventure, the really cool ride

I am home now in the loving arms of my family

My family who stood by me, loved me, and wanted to see me fly

I came home stronger than when I arrived

I am grateful for my experience, it is one not to be forgotten

It is now time to spread my wings and fly

To use the lessons and skills I have learned

So that I can shine bright

 

Like I would say to those I left behind, “You are brave, you are strong, and you are enough!!”

 

Those are definitely words to live by. Thank you, TK, for a wonderful, eye-opening experience. I

will never forget the time I had there. I also know that if I need help again I know where I would

go, and that is to TK.

 

– The Willow Warrior

My time at Timberline Knolls was extremely effective for my overall health; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

– A former resident
Why Choose Timberline Knolls?
Marks of Quality Care
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Lemont Chamber of Commerce
  • Residential Eating Disorders Consortium