Healing for the Soloff Family

I never wanted this. I never thought I'd be so desperate that I would be asking for money online. I'd much rather be helping someone else than asking for help. I never wanted my kids to find out that I need treatment we can't afford or that my unresolved childhood trauma is tearing our family apart.

Yet, here I am asking for help, in the most public way imaginable. Because my family desperately needs a miracle.  

My name is Stephanie Soloff. I live in Houston, Texas with my husband, two kids, two dogs, two cats, and a turtle. By all outward appearences, we are a typical suburban family. 

Nearly 40 years ago, my brother and I were adopted by a couple living on the outskirts of a small town in Pennsylvania. No one really knows exactly what went wrong, but it is likely that mistakes and oversights happened within Pennsylvania's child protection/foster care/adoption system.

For 15 years, my brother and I endured physical and verbal abuse, solitary confinement, and neglect. As far as I remember, there were no followup visits from social workers after we were placed in the home. 

Abused and traumatized children often develop coping mechanisms that allow them to survive and maintain their sanity. By age 11, I had developed an eating disorder and was experimenting with drugs and alcohol. By the time I reached my teens, I had added sexual promiscuity, often trading sex for drugs, to my array of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Meanwhile, I worked hard to maintain a "perfect" image at school so that no one ever knew how much I hated myself and my life.

When I was 18, I finally escaped and went away to college. I tried to bury all of the memories and feelings deep in my subconsious in a misguided effort to avoid the long-term consequences of my abuse.

Over the years, I have had periods of time when I have been mostly happy and free from disordered behaviors. Eventually, some of those memories and feelings started to fight their way out.  At first it was only a trickle, but it soon grew into a near constant flood of emotions and memories. Flashbacks and anxiety were my constant companions. I was convinced that I was going crazy, and didn't want anyone else to know. I learned to secretly dissociate while continuing to appear to function normally. 

Eventually, I was no longer able to keep up the facade of normalcy. I withdrew from friends, found myself unable to have meaningful connections with my children and spouse, and I haven't been able to maintain a job for more than a few months at a time.

I began seeing therapists and dietitians and psychitrists who helped me understand that I wasn't actually going crazy. Rather, I was experiencing symptoms of PTSD as a result of the abuse that I endured as a child. 

During the summer of 2016, I spent 10 weeks in a treatment facility for eating disorders and other mental health issues. The treatment was partially successful in that it helped me to become physically well and mentally stable for a period of time. However, that treatment did not adequately address my childhood trauma.

The original intention was to follow up with intensive trauma treatment. For a variety of reasons, the intensive trauma treatment did not happen. Instead, I began a new job and spent nearly six weeks on work-related travel. My alcohol use increased dramaticaly while my food intake dropped to almost nothing. I was unable to maintain my physical and mental health, my work performance suffered, and I was fired.

I had mental breakdown in January of 2017 and "ran away from home", driving for over 24 hours from Houston, TX to Michigan. After about a week, I returned to Texas.  

We redoubled our efforts in couples therapy and and have takens steps to become better role models for our kids. Because it had become a problem, I decided to stop drinking alcohol, and have been free from alcohol and cigarettes for over two months.

Bit by bit, things are getting better. However, the process is frustratingly slow and often feels like we are playing "Whack-a-mole" where a new problem pops up just as we are getting one under control. Most times, I am barely treading water and I simply can't hold everything together any more. 

At some point, desperation and frustration led me to prayer. Shortly after I began praying for a miracle (ANY miracle), I was referred to an intensive therapy program that specializes in PTSD, unresolved childhood trauma, and eating disorders. It was as if someone had created a treatment program just for me! At the same time, an anonymous individual donated some "seed money" for my pre-intensive evaluation. 

Our phone consultation with the gentleman who runs the program went well and he agreed to take our case. He has recommended that we start with a week of individual trauma therapy for me, followed by a few days of couples therapy for Jason and I. The program is set up so that he only works with one person or couple at a time, with up to 10 hours of treatment per day. Obviously, this treatment program is somewhat unconventional and is therefore not covered by insurance. Our total out-of-pocket costs, including travel and lodging, are expected to be about $35,000.

We are currently working with our insurance company to try to get at least part of the costs covered, and trying to borrow the money needed to pay the rest, but it's not looking good. Honestly, I wouldn't be sharing all of this if I wasn't deperate. Any funds that we raise will go directly toward paying for the intensive treatment program.
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Stephanie Soloff 
Houston, TX