It wasn’t easy balancing a career as a matrimonial attorney with Leslie’s role as a devoted mother of two sons. When you factor in her youngest son’s bipolar disorder, one can easily empathize. Leslie credits the support of her friends, law partners, yoga and Fountain House in helping her keep it together.
Growing up, Scott was a loving, respectful and affectionate boy. She remembers him as hyper-sensitive, but looking back, doesn’t recall any real red flags that would prepare her for his diagnosis. “In high school he was on honor roll and socialized well.”
Scott attended an academically elite college. “During his first few months on campus, he lost a ton of weight. I thought maybe he was becoming anorexic,” Leslie recalls. But, he struggled more and more and, over Christmas break, told his mom he was depressed. Upon returning to school, Leslie remembers a disturbing phone call with Scott. “He didn’t sound right. A few hours later, I got a call from the infirmary saying that they were taking him to the hospital.” Leslie dropped everything and rushed to be by his side. “I literally ran out of my house. When I got to the hospital, he was sitting in a dark room -- clearly something was very wrong.”
“The psychiatrist said, ‘your son has lost touch with reality.’ I couldn’t grasp what he was saying. I knew people had tragedies in college, you hear about alcohol poisoning, athletic injuries, car accidents, meningitis…but, mental illness was totally off my radar.”
Suddenly, Leslie’s life was turned upside down. After 10 days, Scott was released from the hospital, but was still totally unstable. “I had to take two months off work and hire around the clock care. You beat yourself up a little when you have a kid with mental illness in a way a parent wouldn’t do if their kid had another illness like juvenile diabetes. You think, well, if I hadn’t done this or if I had caught that.”
Fortunately, Leslie found a wonderful therapist for Scott who she credits with “talking me off the ledge. I went from one of those states of absolute devastation to being able to cope.” One statement he made, stuck with her. “He said, ‘your son will be back. He has an illness, which we will address, but he will be back and he will still have all the wonderful qualities and attributes that you love about him.’ I clung to his words.”
Over the next nine months, four of which were spent hospitalized, Scott began making progress. And then, Leslie found Fountain House. “It was instantly clear that this was the right place. We were blown away by how incredible it was. First of all, it’s a beautiful facility and what they offer to the members is extraordinary.”
Scott started coming to Fountain House three days a week and working in the culinary unit. “He is very happy at Fountain House,” Leslie explains. “In less than a year he has learned to manage his own medication, do chores, get around the city by himself and make some good friends. He is not only stabilized, but he is thriving.”
Beyond just answers, Fountain House has given Leslie peace and hope. “When we have children we always want them to be healthy and do well. We take for granted that they are going to go to college and have a career. But as the saying goes, ‘you make plans and God laughs.’ What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan? That’s where Fountain House comes in. What would I have done without it? It was a life saver.”
This year, Leslie found a way to give back to Fountain House in a major way that will help save the lives of many more people like Scott. Her law firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, became the title sponsor of the One-in-Four 5K. The Fountain House/Davidoff Hutcher & Citron 2nd Annual One-in-Four 5K will be held on April 11th at Riverside Park.
Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, which has over 50 attorneys in offices in New York City, Albany, Washington D.C., and Garden City, Long Island, provides legal and government relations services for a varied clientele that include Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, prominent real estate organizations, developers, leading health and educational institutions, associations and services organizations, as well as other industries throughout the greater metropolitan area.