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My Monarch Story: Finding a way to say “Thank You”

Kristal FrontoneKristal Frontone, a certified peer support specialist in Greensboro, first came to Monarch not as a staff member, but as a person supported. She shares her own inspiring story.

I was first introduced to Monarch in July 2012.  My mother brought me to Monarch in a desperate attempt to get me back on the medications that I had been off of for a few months.  At the time I had no idea that this office would be the force to change the course of my life.  I want to share my story as a way of saying “thank you,” to those who have helped me so much along the way. 

I have always dreamed about becoming a clinical psychologist. I went to hear Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, a clinical psychologist and writer, speak at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and I remember finding her lecture fascinating. I just knew that was what I wanted to do.
Then life started to happen. I got married and had my son. At age 22, I learned that I had bipolar disorder.  I felt crushed. I eventually lost custody of my son and I felt that my world was ending.  

I’ve had lots of ups and downs since the diagnoses.  I would be lying if I said I never attempted suicide.  I had lost my job as a result of my illness.  I crawled into bed for two weeks without food or water.  Then a friend called my mom.  She made me get out of bed and two days later she brought me to Monarch.

I remember thinking that being at the doctor was hopeless. I couldn’t be helped.  The doctor put me back on my medications and gave my mom some resources to help get me back on my feet.  Slowly but surely I started getting better. 

Eventually, everything did work out.  I remember the appointment right after my son was returned to me by the courts.  I finally felt that life was worth living again.  I know that I would have never gotten custody back had it not been for the staff at Monarch helping me and encouraging me to get better.  If they had not believed in me when I was at my lowest, I would not be where I am today. 

After receiving medication management for a few months at Monarch, I started to get back into therapy and met Monarch therapist Bill Garrot, who taught me to be patient with myself and to just keep trying.  I later started to see Chester Hairston for therapy. 

I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for him.  He worked with me on goals and taught me how to break down the big goals and how to follow them.  Chester encouraged me to follow my childhood dream of becoming a therapist.  I am pleased to say that I have gone back to school to pursue my dream. 

I can honestly say that with the help of several Monarch therapist and staff my dreams are becoming realities, just like the Monarch’s tagline: “Helping Dreams Take Flight.”  

I am now working as a peer support specialist at the office where I was once a patient.  I am a better mom than I could have ever imagined, and have a better quality of life than I have ever dreamed. I ask that you read this not as a success story, but as a thank you for those who have helped me so much.

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