Resilience and Hope: Nancy and Madelyn’s Story

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A mother and daughter's inspiring story

Mother and daughter Nancy and Madelyn both received life-changing support from Brookline Center programs. The pair generously shared their inspiring story at the Women at the Center Kickoff in March. 

Content Warning: this story involves topics related to suicide. 

“In May, I will turn 25. I never, ever thought I would make it to 25,” said Madelyn to a captivated audience at this year’s Women at The Center Kickoff.  

Madelyn grew up as a bright and fun child—but buried underneath her cheerful facade was deep depression. Even at a young age, she had thoughts of suicide that she did not feel she could discuss with anyone in her life. “Back then, all I understood was that I had to keep those feelings to myself,” Madelyn said. “So, I continued to pretend all was okay until I couldn’t pretend anymore.” 

Madelyn’s depression reached new lows during high school, which led her to intensive levels of psychiatric care, more than once. Each time she attended a program or a hospital, there was a challenging transition back to high school. However, she was able to participate in The Brookline Center’s bryt program, which she describes as a bridge of safety, advocacy, and support.  

In her junior year of high school, Madelyn’s depression resurfaced in full force, resulting in a suicide attempt. She was admitted to an in-patient psychiatry unit and spent a month in treatment. The ripple effects of her depression and self-harm were extensive, including the sadness, fear, guilt, and anxiety Nancy experienced.  

“The prospect of Madelyn coming home was terrifying. What if she doesn’t get better? What if she tries again?” Nancy said. “But before Madelyn was discharged from the hospital, we met with the bryt team, and they reassured me she would be safe and in good hands. Bryt was Madelyn’s sanctuary. But I was still worried for her all the time and just going through the motions in every other area of my life.” In response to her own struggles, Nancy reached out to The Brookline Center, where she was connected with an “incredible therapist.”  

“Being the parent of a child with a serious mental health condition is scary, overwhelming, and isolating,” Nancy shared. “For me, being able to connect with someone at the Center who was there for me, to listen to my feelings and what I was going through, kept my head above water.” 

When Madelyn returned home, the idea of going back to school after so much time away was overwhelming. There were six weeks of classes to make up, plus so much social discomfort to wade through. It felt impossible. “But bryt made it possible,” Madelyn said. “The bryt staff worked so hard to make sure I was feeling safe and set up for success. They were so kind and patient. Being in a completely judgment-free space with kids going through similar experiences took so much pressure off; the first laughs I had after being hospitalized were in the bryt room.” 

With bryt’s support, Madelyn was able to catch up on her schoolwork and get through her remaining year of high school. Her college years brought their own challenges, worsened by the COVID pandemic, but once again The Brookline Center was there as a source of support.  

Today, Madelyn lives in Colorado with her friends. She loves her city, enjoys her job, and is surrounded by beauty. “I used to live under a dark and cloudy sky, where there was never any light, and it rained all the time. Little by little, it got lighter,” Madelyn said. “Now, there are sometimes rainy days. And dark clouds overhead. But the rain goes away, and the clouds don’t stick around long—I know how to ditch them. And my life is just so, so much sunnier.” 

Nancy couldn’t be more grateful for The Brookline Center’s support. “To see my child, who at one point literally could not get off the floor, who begged us to let her die, living a happy, independent adult life is amazing. I am so proud of her, and I am enormously grateful to The Brookline Center,” Nancy said. “The Brookline Center is an incredible resource and the bryt program is lifesaving. I have no doubt that if Madelyn had been at school without bryt, she would not be alive today.”