Two young ladies of Orchard Place reading - at Orchard Place Des Moines

"Orchard Place saved my life 17 years ago!"

“Orchard Place helped save my life 17 years ago,” explained Katie Weltzheimer. “My struggle with mental health began at the young age of 10.”

During that time, Katie shares that she was hearing a voice in her head that was telling her to harm her family. “The voice was that of a man who also had a dog. I enjoyed my interactions with the dog, which the man used against me,” said Katie. “When I refused to harm my family, per his request, he threatened to kill the dog. One day, he did just that.”

That point forward, Katie was not her normal, bubbly self. She became physically aggressive and struggled with depression, anxiety, developed a manipulative persona, and experienced extreme behavioral disturbances. At school she was bullied, which only fueled her behavior.

“To experience psychosis at such a young age was terrifying,” she stated. “This prompted my first psychiatric assessment and inpatient stay.”

Katie started her journey of healing and care at Orchard Place while in middle school after experiencing what she calls a ‘break down.’

“Every emotion, every fear, every ounce of pain came flooding out of me without warning,” she remembers. “I told my mom I needed help and agreed to go to Orchard Place.”

Katie had a rough start at first. She described the first few months as her being defiant, manipulative, and sneaky. “It took many months for me to understand that my current behavior wasn’t helping me get back home,” she realized.

After some time, Katie established a routine and developed a sense of self-awareness. Spending one year at Orchard Place, she learned about herself and gained a passion for helping others. “Without that year of treatment, I do believe that there is a high probability that I would have taken my own life,” said Katie. “Without Orchard Place, I would be another statistic.”

Now a life-long supporter for mental health care, she encourages others to seek help if they need it.

“I am proud to be one of the many Orchard Place success stories and am even more proud to be a full supporter of the work that Orchard Place does!”