Brooke’s Story: How a Substance-Abuse-Related Rock Bottom Led to Physical and Mental Healing at APN | All Points North

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Brooke’s Story: How a Substance-Abuse-Related Rock Bottom Led to Physical and Mental Healing at APN

Written by Samantha Carter

Brooke, a wife and mother to three young children, had been dealing with multiple autoimmune diseases for 22 years. Constantly in pain and on multiple medications to manage her physical conditions, Brooke often found herself self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

However, when a catastrophic event occurred in her life, Brooke would be forced to wake up to the severity of her problems. In APN’s podcast episode, Rock Bottom Was My Way Up: Recovery x Brooke, Brooke opens up about what brought her to APN and how her life has changed since then. To learn more about Brooke’s story, check out the full podcast episode or continue reading about her journey below.

What Brought Brooke to APN

Sometimes it takes an extreme occurrence in our lives to finally be willing to take the steps toward change. For Brooke, this couldn’t be more true.

“What brought me to APN was an accident,” Brooke said. “[I had been dealing with] long-term substance abuse [with] prescription meds [and mixing alcohol, which you’re not supposed to do], as you can end up in unfortunate accidents. [For me, this] became the silver lining for why [I] came and how I found APN. My family wanted me to get help. I knew I needed to get help. So I looked up treatment centers in Colorado. I saw that [APN] spent a lot of time on trauma and there was an HBOT [chamber] and so many different things wellness-wise. So I watched some of the YouTube videos – actually, a lot of them – and I was sold.”

While Brooke was dealing with an incredibly difficult situation, she now holds a positive outlook on it looking back.

“Hitting that tree was best thing that could have ever happened to me because that was my rock bottom, but it also was my way out, my way up,” Brooke said.

Going to “Wellness Camp”

As a parent to young children, Brooke had unique considerations and concerns to think about in how to explain her absence to her children. In her podcast episode, Brooke opened up about how she was able to frame this time away.

“Two of [my children] were at camp at the time, so they weren’t even aware [that I was gone at first],” Brooke said. “My eldest son was home and, you know, it was it was black and white. He’s really even-keeled and he knew I [had] been on meds for 20+ years for different autoimmune diseases and he’s seen me sick. But I just told him I needed to go and become stronger, get off certain medications, and we were all on the same page. They thought, Okay. Mom’s going to camp for her wellness.

While it wasn’t easy leaving her children and husband for two months, Brooke was giving herself and her family the best gift she could give–the gift of healing.

Finding a “Buddy” at APN

As most people might be upon arriving at treatment, Brooke was nervous. However, her fear soon dissipated when she made a friend on her first day.

“I was scared [first walking into APN],” Brooke said. “I mean, I didn’t really know anybody or many people at all. I was going to my room and Amy, [my roommate], was standing at the end of the hall. She had gotten my bags moved to her room after she met me in the hallway thinking, I want to live with her. So right away we connected [and] I had a great buddy.”

Not only was Amy a useful resource to have at APN – having come here several days before Brooke and therefore being more familiarized with the routine – but Brooke was also blessed to find a long-term friend.

“We are still very close to this day and I’m so grateful that we were both here for two months together,” Brooke said. “She left just a few days before me [so we were mostly on this journey together].”

Speaking on the Staff and the Recovery Process

One of the most important aspects of Brooke’s recovery at APN was the staff that made it all possible.

“The process group was incredible,” Brooke said. “My therapist, Katie, put me through some grueling assignments that I really could have killed her for. But at the end of it I just thought, Wow. This just opened up so many things that I had been bottling up inside that were bothering me, that were stressing me out, contributing to my disease. And she had me read certain books [like “The Body Keeps the Score”] and it was incredible.”

Katie wasn’t the only staff member that Brooke couldn’t say enough nice things about.

“The RAs – Kelsey, Karen, [really] everybody here, absolutely everybody – had a piece in my recovery and making me feel comfortable and keeping me going,” Brooke said. “[They would tell and show] me things that I didn’t even know I could do. I mean, Mike in the gym, oh my gosh. And yoga–yeah everybody, absolutely everybody. All the nursing staff helping me get my meds straight … I mean they all saved my life. … [The APN staff] are the reason for a lot of the success.”

Lifechanging Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Treatment

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a medical treatment that involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment, is just one of the many alternative treatments that APN offers to their clients as a part of their holistic model to mental healthcare.

During HBOT sessions, the atmospheric pressure is increased to higher than sea level, allowing the lungs to gather more oxygen than would be possible under normal conditions. This increased oxygen supply is believed to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes and promote tissue repair.

While HBOT is primarily used to treat physical conditions, it has also shown promise as a complementary therapy for mental healthcare. The increased oxygen levels delivered during HBOT sessions may help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to the brain, thereby enhancing the brain’s ability to repair and regenerate.

In Brooke’s case, HBOT would be a two-for-one aid, as it helped alleviate both her physical and mental health issues. In her podcast episode, Brooke opens up about what attracted her to this treatment and how it played a role in her wellness journey.

“First of all, when I was watching some of the YouTube videos, I had seen the Olympic skier and how it would help with injuries,” Brooke said. “I watched quite a bit on it and I thought to myself, well this is bound to help with rheumatoid arthritis [RA]. Also, when I got here, I did have a concussion at the time, so I wanted to get into that machine as quickly as possible to get rid of the headaches. Three treatments [in and] they were gone. I did 37 [HBOT treatments at APN] and I’m still doing them at home. For autoimmune disorders and stuff, it just moves everything around. It’s like cleaning your lymphatic system and it’s invigorating energy afterwards. For me, I could go outside, I could hike four and a half miles, I could take that huge mountain (and I could probably take it twice if I wanted to), I could get on the treadmill with Mike. I [hadn’t] done that in years [because] I was in so much pain.”

In addition to feeling better and being more able-bodied, Brooke spoke further about some measurable changes to her physical health as a direct result of HBOT treatment.

“My stomach cleared up. I mean absolutely everything apart from the RA [went away],” Brooke said. “I [previously had multiple] other autoimmune diseases on top of that. Well everything started kind of clearing up and I wasn’t taking certain medications [anymore]. My blood pressure went down. It was amazing. It was life-changing for me.”

Illuminating What an HBOT Therapy Session Looks Like at APN

For many people who have never heard of or tried hyperbaric oxygen therapy, they might be curious what the experience is like. Brooke and APN podcast co-host, Dan, both open up about what to expect with HBOT at APN Lodge.

“You know, you’ll go in there and Mike is there, Jason’s there–they’re incredible. They keep you comfortable, they take your blood pressure, they’ll check your ears, they will turn on whatever Netflix you want to watch. You’re in there for 90 minutes. They’ll give you a bottle of water. You have an amazing mountain view and it’s very relaxing. They make it easy. They’re right there for you if you need anything–if you’re gonna be sick or freak out or whatever, which doesn’t really happen. It never happened to me,” Brooke said.

“To paint a bigger picture, it’s a very large tube that you go into,” Dan said. “Ours is like the purest clear it could be. So when you look out it doesn’t feel like you’re like in a tube and all you can see is a TV in front of you and mountains, so like you’re really just hanging out in there. You could take a nap [if you wanted to].”

While Dan points out that HBOT is not for everyone, it was certainly a transformative experience for Brooke.

Forging Lifelong Friendships and Connecting With People From All Walks of Life

Brooke previously mentioned the amazing connection she forged with her roommate during her time at APN. However, that wasn’t the only friendship she made while there. In fact, Brooke found that she bonded with many of the participants at the lodge, a huge part of her transformation story.

“All the friendships that I’ve made here–I feel like they’re going to be lifelong friendships,” Brooke said. “A lot of us [are] all over the country but we still talk. We’re on group chats [and] we see each other in outpatient therapies. Coming back and seeing everybody is amazing. There’s so many people from so many different walks of life but everybody is exactly the same.”

Part of what Brooke reflected on is how seemingly different people can come together for a common purpose, united in their mission for healing and self-growth.

“[There are] people from Europe here, [from] all over the place,” Brooke said. “I mean, some people come in from the streets and they’re incredible people.”

Part of that self-growth journey is also about being a friend to others.

“I mean it happened pretty quickly [that i started helping others assimilate],” Brooke said. “People come in and rotate out, especially [in] your process groups. I’ve always been someone to extend a helping hand and that’s how the friendships start. You help pick them up after someone has just helped pick you up.”

More Than She Bargained For

While Brooke initially planned to stay at APN for 30 days, she ended up getting more than she bargained for.

“Well, first of all I was hell-bent [on] only [staying] 30 days,” Brooke said. “I didn’t want to be away from my kids. [But as that marker was nearing], right away I knew it wasn’t time. So I extended two weeks. Then, I extended two more. That’s when all the hard work started coming together.”

As many APN alumni have also reported, longer stays tend to produce better and more sustainable results.

“If I could have stayed another 30 [days], I probably would have,” Brooke said. “Because once you start unraveling, you learn so much … I started unpacking trauma–trauma that I wasn’t even aware of. Then, [I] started learning about boundaries. I needed the extra time.”

While recovery and healing work isn’t easy, Brooke reflected on how it starts to feel after a while.

“[After some time,] you start to feel really good and you learn that you don’t ever want to go back to whatever you’re poisoning your body with, especially when you are sick,” Brooke said. “There [were] quite a few things that just were eye-openers. So, you know, you set the substance aside and then you get to work.”

Parting Thoughts

While Brooke never thought she’d be sharing her recovery story with the world, she realized that there was hope and healing in her journey that others might relate to.

“At first, I was a little scared [to share],” Brooke said. “I had never done anything like this [podcast] before [so I was] nervous. Then, I thought to myself, if I can just help one person that would be amazing.

As Brooke returned to APN for the filming of her podcast episode, she found that her fears and nervousness dissipated.

“Just to come back here and see all the familiar faces again–it’s heartwarming,” Brooke said. “I mean, there’s so much that APN has to offer and if you can take advantage of as much as possible, [you won’t regret it].”

While Brooke came to APN to overcome her substance abuse, she didn’t realize she was signing up for so much more.

“You come here and you’re shaming yourself,” said Brooke. “[But, throughout the process], you learn to find grace [and] empathy. [You] learn how to let go and move on.”

If you’re interested in learning more about All Points North and our addiction and mental health recovery programs, submit our confidential contact form or call us at 855.934.1178 today. You never know how good your life can get until you let yourself feel the things that are hard.

More From Brooke

Listen and watch Brooke’s episode of Recovery x APN below, and find more episodes on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.