Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Reflections from leaving Residential

Last week a very special anniversary passed for me. It was my one year date since I came home from Canon.
Canon House was part of Destinations to Recovery (DTR). It was a mental health residential treatment facility I stayed at for two and a half months from the end of September to December 2015. I entered at 17 years old, spent my 18th birthday inside, and came home about a month later. The decision to be placed in residential came after a long and hard couple years during which time I was hospitalized five times. Canon was my last hope.
DTR did not disappoint. It was not easy, but with the help of some amazing therapists, great counselors, and group leaders I became stable again. I often say Canon was the best thing that ever happened to me in my treatment journey. Living there I was immersed in a 24/7 world of therapy. Every moment from the time we woke up in the morning to the time we went to sleep was scheduled out for us. We had two individual sessions, one family session, one multi-family session, and multiple group sessions with therapists each week. In between those we had many different groups. We did everything from Psychodrama to Nutrition to Dance and Movement therapy. My most fun activity was getting to go surfing each week.
While Canon was great and I learned so many things, life there is best compared to living in a bubble. We weren't in the real world. It is easy to stay stable in recovery when you are in such a safe and calculated environment. All good things must come to an end and on December 11, 2015 I left Canon House to return home. I was terrified and excited all at the same time. While I didn't feel ready to leave in my head I knew I was.
Due to the lack of resources in Bakersfield my only after care plan was seeing a therapist twice a week. My therapist had never sent someone home without a day program and had them succeed, so I knew I had my work cut out for me.
The most important thing I learned being home is that it is all up to me. My therapist could say whatever she wanted, my parents could say whatever they wanted and try to make me do all of the right things, but ultimately it was all up to me. I had to be willing to follow through with all the tools I had learned. I had to be willing to stay away from situations, people, and things that I knew were not good for me. I had to be willing to ask for help when I needed it.
It has not been easy. I have been home for a year now and it is still not always easy. I thank my Father in Heaven every day that the good days now outnumber the bad. However, I will always have to fight my battles and keep up with my healthy coping skills.
One other thing I have learned is that there are no excuses. I can make them, sure, but they will always be invalid. There is always more to be done, different skills to try, someone else to reach out to.
My life doesn't own me anymore. The reins are back in my hands. I have had such amazing help alone the way. My parents have stood by my side and helped me find the best care possible. I have an amazing aunt and an awesome best friend who are a great aid to my support system, and I still see a therapist once a week.

Our struggles and our demons do not have to win. This is our life and our agency. With help and persistence we can make it anything we want it to be.

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