November 2023


The Divine Therapeutic

San Diego’s first women-only recovery center is providing a much-needed safe space for mental health treatment



remember taking the selfie that changed my life. This memento wasn’t for vanity. It was a digital dead

Deliberately cozy, the décor at Monima is designed to put patients at ease.

reckoning of my mental health. I was three weeks into my eight- week intensive outpatient program (IOP) for Bipolar II Disorder, an illness that—when left untreated and unmedicated—would either send me into a hypomanic breeze of midday chardonnay, spending sprees, and selfish trysts or render me an unkempt shell who filmed her own self-harm and spun it as performance art on YouTube. A social scream for it all to stop. I snapped the mirror selfie in the midst of a consuming impulse to destroy. But taking that photo—a moment of pause—let me look at myself like I was another woman. Seeing her reflection of su ff ering, I finally chose myself.

tandem. Monima also o ff ers nearby living quarters for those who are from out-of-state or whose home setting isn’t conducive to healing. It doesn’t feel like other IOPs. Yes, it’s in a nondescript suite of medical o ffi ces, but, once you walk in, you’re met with soft lighting, peach-toned walls, and the energetic hum of a special kind of sorority. On one wall, there’s a fringy banner emblazoned with a silk-screened Buddha and the phrase “Let that shit go.” Above

a reading nook is a neon heart and a framed poster declaring “Well-behaved women don’t make history.” It’s a vibe. And it’s on purpose. “No OB-GYN lights here,” jokes Kat Grassetti, Monima’s clinical director. One could write it o ff as cheesy, but it’s designed to help women feel at ease, willing, and safe in the company of their assigned sisterhood. “There’s a huge di ff erence between trauma- informed care and trauma-focused work,” Grassetti explains. “We really wanted to set up an environment where this is the landing space to do the trauma work. It’s not trauma-adjacent.” With gender-specific care comes a comfort that co- ed wellness centers, by nature, simply cannot provide—

I can’t help but wonder: Would I have gotten to this point sooner if I had been surrounded by other experiences that better reflected my own? Perhaps I wouldn’t have needed my camera app at all had I been in an IOP focused on women like me. Monima Wellness Center aspires to be such a game-changing mental health recovery center. Monima is San Diego’s first mental health center to exclusively host female (including female- identifying) patients, o ff ering them intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs with a focus on mental health disorders, substance abuse, and dual diagnoses, which treat both in

52 NOVEMBER 2023

Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker