Patient of the Month: Mariah

January 2020

Imagine being bullied because of a disability, because of your skin color, or because you are adopted. This was a daily struggle for Mariah, a compassionate and kind-hearted 17-year-old girl who loves her parents, her brothers, and her dog.

Mariah was adopted by her foster parents shortly after birth, but it wasn’t until some years later that she was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a degenerative nerve disease that usually appears in adolescence or early adulthood. This disorder caused Mariah to gradually lose her ability to walk, eventually requiring her to use a wheelchair.

Growing up, Mariah was taunted at school because of her physical appearance and because her parents did not share the same skin tone. Although she would try to brush it off, the constant abuse from peers affected her self-esteem.

One day, Mariah tried to take her own life with over-the-counter medication. When she survived the attempt and awoke the next morning, she knew she needed help and turned to her parents for assistance. They found care for her at the inpatient psychiatry and behavioral medicine unit at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t see myself here today if it wasn’t for IOP (intensive outpatient program) or the help that I got,” said Mariah. The IOP program provides daily mental health support and counseling for patients and their families on an outpatient basis.

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