Greenbrier Academy for Girls is a place full of stories. These are the stories the girls came here with and the stories they are writing now. However different these stories may be, every girl’s story relates her to her peers.

I smiled all the time. I was captain of my rugby team. I was in Select Women’s Choral Ensemble, I was riding horses, and I won awards in Model United Nations. My grades were stellar. I had a boyfriend I loved and a group of friends who were better than anyone could have ever asked for. Then I moved. It turned my entire world upside-down, and then proceeded to break it in half. As much as I fought for a positive outlook towards my new home, things just didn’t work out. I became severely depressed, and nine months later very nearly took my own life. It was deemed that my environment was unhealthy and that the available care was inadequate, so an alternative had to be found. After some serious research, Greenbrier Academy for Girls was the answer.

There are some things I wish my parents had known, and these are things that all parents should know. Firstly, these things don’t happen as a result of parents not paying enough attention, but rather that parents didn’t know what it was they were looking at. It’s very important for every parent to understand depression and the multitude of ways in which it manifests. Depression isn’t something to hide, it’s something that needs to be talked about in families so that families can recognize when members may be predisposed. Parents should try to be cued into whom their daughter is hanging out with. They can be great indicators of what may be going on though sometimes it can’t be helped. In my case, I was traumatized by the move and became chemically unbalanced. If you’re a parent reading this, that means you’re aware and you’re already taking steps towards what may very well save your daughter’s life.

Greenbrier Academy for Girls is hard to describe because it means something different for everyone. On my first day I was terrified because everyone was so boisterous and there was so much going on. This fear soon subsided as I got to know the girls, who were all so friendly and curious. It was weird to transition from home. There was a loss of privacy and alone time, along with other privileges, but I was able to adjust. A lot of girls who went to wilderness first had an easier time of it since they’d already been exposed to the therapeutic world.

The days at Greenbrier Academy for Girls are jam-packed with opportunities to learn and practice healthy choices. We have PE, classes, drumming, group therapy, horseback riding and basketball. That makes for a very busy and productive day. Everyone is encouraged to find their passion, and there are many activities on the weekends that provide for such exploration. School challenges each girl at the level she needs to be challenged, it’s very individualized. The teachers really care about their students and go the extra mile to make sure no one is left behind. The mentors are wonderful. To many of the girls the mentors are more like friends or parents than people who simply tell us what to do. The therapists really love their girls, and the work that gets accomplished is honestly groundbreaking. Life here is all about the community. We create and decide consequences, celebrations, and the general flow of things. We’re a community built from love.

Greenbrier Academy for Girls has worked wonders for me. It wasn’t easy, but with a whole lot of patience from my therapist and an incredible amount of support from the community I’ve gotten back to myself. I’m smiling again, cracking jokes and singing in the shower. I’ve come to understand what it was that drove me to such extremes, and how to get past those old beliefs and habits. I have found my voice again and can express my needs and feelings without offending. I am much more confidents and content with myself. I am loving who I am, and I understand that I don’t need to be perfect to be loved. Greenbrier Academy for Girls has taught me so much, and I am ready to go off to college this fall and take on the world, armed with the skills to keep me safe and the knowledge of what to do should things get ugly. I am ever grateful for that.