Brooklynn experienced multiple traumas as a teenager growing up in Butler County. She turned to drugs to numb her emotional pain.
“I didn’t care how I felt. I didn’t care about waking up,” Brooklynn shared. “You don’t care to live. You really don’t.”
Brooklynn quit high school and found herself hanging out with the wrong crowd, trapped in a cycle of substance abuse. She also faced a new hurdle: fearing the stigma of admitting she was addicted.
“In my town if you’re addicted, you’re pretty much just written off,” Brooklynn said. “You’re very, very alone.”
“You have no push. That’s why you see people in active addiction. They haven’t found that purpose to get out of that lifestyle.”
Brooklynn finally found her purpose when she was 18. A home test revealed she was pregnant with her daughter, Jolynn.
“That day that I found out, I quit everything.”
Faced with the responsibility of becoming a mom, Brooklynn quickly charted a new course for life that would bring her to Easterseals.
“First step is diploma. We have got to get this because [my daughter] is not going to tell me she’s not going to go to school,” Brooklynn recalls.
Brooklynn enrolled at Marshall High School in Middletown and received case management from Easterseals Career Connection, a program for young adults in Butler, Clermont, and Warren Counties who face barriers to joining the workforce. Brooklynn took advantage of the training programs to explore her interests while completing her academic studies.
At the age of 20, Brooklynn fulfilled the promise she made to herself two years earlier when she earned her high school diploma.
“It was probably the first thing I accomplished in probably my whole life,” Brooklynn says.
“I was beyond ecstatic when I found out she had met all of her credits to graduate high school,” said Tricia Smith, Brooklynn’s job coach at Easterseals.
The diploma quickly opened up new doors for Brooklynn, who received a promotion at work for completing high school.
“My support system, whether it be from my mom, or Marshall, or Easterseals, those people helped me strive to do better things,” Brooklynn said. “You need to hold on to anything that’s positive when you’re going through an addiction, and keep fighting for that and hoping for better days.”
“It means a lot to be able to connect with somebody who’s been through that,” Tricia said. “I love that she’s open to telling her story to other people. Maybe they will reach out for help.”