STEP Toward Recovery: Burke Hosting Outreach Presentation

LeeAnn Dwire, 18, right, has participated in Burke’s STEP program for the past year. She is now working, recently obtained her GED and is preparing for college entrance exams.

By Nicole Bradford, Reporter, see the original story here.

Nacogdoches, TX (Daily Sentinel)

A year ago, LeeAnn Dwire might have seemed like a garden variety troubled teen.

Depressed and anxious, the teen often isolated herself. Worse, she began having hallucinations — hearing voices that were not there.

“I was in a bad place,” said Dwire, now 18 and holding down a job while preparing for the SAT. “My mom got scared for me and started trying to get me into the Burke system.”

The teen was admitted into Burke’s STEP, or Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis, a comprehensive program that involves therapists, education and career specialists. In the year that followed, she made slow but steady progress.

“Getting her out of bed was hard,” said Karmen Kopriva, a recovery coach for the STEP program. “It was tiredness from depression. Slowly but surely, she helped break down her own walls.”

The most well-known symptoms of psychosis are seeing and hearing things that other people don’t. However, there are more subtle signs: a disheveled appearance, lack of self-care and isolation, says Monique Wicker, clinical supervisor of Burke’s STEP program, which currently treats 33 clients between the ages of 15 and 30 in Burke’s 12-county area.

“In one case, (the parents) thought she was just being lazy when she was actually presenting symptoms,” she said.

A free public presentation on the STEP program is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, at the C.L. Simon Recreation Center, 1112 North St. The program will address what to look for in a loved one who might be experiencing his or her first psychotic break.

Focusing on early intervention and treatment, STEP is a 36-month program.

“We work with their schools, a rehabilitation coach helps them develop healthy coping skills and we also have a peer — someone who has been there,” she said. “We also work to educate families.”

What many people sometimes don’t realize about psychosis is that people can and do recover, Wicker said. And there are other misconceptions, chief among them is that people suffering from it pose a threat to those around them.

“If they are dangerous at all, they are a danger to themselves, and typically we don’t see that,” she said.

Three in 100 people have an episode of psychosis at some point in their lives, according to Burke.

Having earned her GED just last week, Dwire says her goals now are doing well on the SAT and getting into college.

Her advice to others who are where she was a year ago: “Keep your head up and believe that you can do something for yourself. Not only will that help you, but it will show other people you are willing to do what needs to be done to get better.”

A presentation on Burke’s STEP program will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, at the C.L. Simon Recreation Center, 1112 North St. The presentation is free and open to the public and refreshments will be provided. For information, call 936-558-6200.

About Psychosis

Psychosis is a symptom, not an illness, and it is more common than many believe. Symptoms vary, but usually involve hallucinations or delusions, or both. Some warning signs before psychosis include:

  • Worrisome drop in grades or job performance.
  • Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating.
  • Suspiciousness or uneasiness with others.
  • A decline in self-care or personal hygiene.
  • Spending more time alone than usual.
  • Strong, inappropriate emotions, or having no feelings at all.

For information on psychosis visit our website.