“I will never be able to properly articulate the gratitude I feel for the people that have gotten us to this point, us being the operative word here. How lucky we were to have found Caron and then Turnbridge, two places that understand the need to first convince the family that they are all suffering and need help and then to offer that help.”
- A grateful mother
Rec & Lifestyle
This past month, Phase 1 clients at the Women’s Program visited Brownstone Adventure Park.
Brownstone is a unique alternative to a traditional waterpark as it is a water and adventure park built in a quarry. They offer a multitude of activities from zip lining, rock climbing and cliff jumping to kayaking and paddle boarding. Guests walk along docks across the lake to access different activity areas, complete with floating gazebos for floating and relaxing.
“It was a great place for everyone. [The women] especially loved the agility courses,” said Philomena O., Support Staff. The group was lucky to arrive on a gorgeous sunny day, and the park offered activities suited to anybody. Some clients opted to float in the lake while others chose the more adrenaline-fueled route and went for the zip lines. “I’ve never experienced anything like that before!” said Sarah Glenn L., Phase 1 client. Zip lining was so cool; you fall right into the water. That was the first zip line I’ve tried so it was a little scary, but so worth it.”
While some clients spent the day flying through the air, others went straight for the water obstacles. “There was one called ‘The Blob’,” said client Suzie B. “It’s like a big pillow one person sits on one end while someone else jumps on to throw them off. I’ve always seen it and wanted to try it. It was awesome!”
Support Staff member Jill K. said, “Everyone had such an amazing time, it was hard to get them to leave!”
Shawn S. is a Support Staff member at Phase 3 of the Men’s Program and the Unsung Hero for the month of July.
Shawn began working as Support Staff at Phase 1 about a year and a half ago. He has exemplified hard work and reliability throughout and has since transitioned to working full time overnights at Phase 3. “After applying for this job, I got a phone call and visited the facility. As soon as I visited, I knew that it was somewhere I wanted to be.” Shawn said he has worked in the mental health field before with different populations of clients. “I just really enjoy working in this field because I like working with people.” He has proved to be a wonderful support to clients. “My favorite part of the job is problem solving. I can see a client that may need help and sit and talk with them to figure out answers. I like to be there to encourage them.”
Teamwork has been noted as one of the top things Shawn is grateful for. “I would say that this job at Turnbridge has been the best job I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve worked with the best Support Staff, had the best help from administration and the best help from managers. I once got a flat tire at about two or three in the morning and a manager came to help me.”
Many staff at Turnbridge will recognize the welcoming atmosphere. “I enjoy the cohesiveness of team playing. I like how everyone communicates and works with each other. This is also a job where I’ve felt the most comfortable being myself. I actually feel appreciated and respected.”
Danielle O. is a current Phase 3 resident at the Womens Program.
Dani has gone to “about twenty” treatment centers before coming to Turnbridge. “My first treatment was after I graduated college. My parents didn’t know if sending me to rehab was an overreaction. I kind of thought it was, but I also knew I wasn’t drinking like everyone else. I couldn’t control my drinking and just didn’t know what else to do.” Dani recalls trying every option she could, aside from long term treatment. “I went to a thirty day and then went to sober living after. Eventually my disease progressed and I went to a lot of thirty-days. I went to a lot of sober houses. Eventually, my disease progressed and I became a heroin addict. We tried everything. We tried in-home care, we tried a million things, but I was never willing to go to long term treatment.”
During this merry-go-round of treatment centers, Dani found herself homeless and hopeless. “My family had blocked me they wouldn’t talk to me. I didn’t know if I wanted to get sober but it was the first moment of desperation I’d had in a while. I had finally made it to detox after being in the psych ward and I knew I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. The next day, my detox counselor told me they’d talked to my parents and found Turnbridge.”
Dani didn’t start out homeless and using heroin. Initially, she began experimenting with alcohol in high school. “I started probably the normal age. I started drinking with my friends. We’d steal a beer here and there and even then; I didn’t really drink. I just kind of pretended to be drunk because I liked the attention and I liked the feeling of doing something crazy. I can’t remember the first time I really got drunk, but senior year of high school it got to the point where I didn’t want to do anything else. I started to not see the point of going out with friends if there wasn’t drinking involved. I would do less outings and more parties. I picked my college based on if I would be able to drink there. I didn’t think about my career afterwards or any future planning. I just thought ‘This is going to be the best four years of my life. I need to have a football team. I need to be able to go to frat parties.’ That’s how I planned my future around drinking- although I hadn’t realized that at the time.”
Once at school, Dani saw her drinking progress. “I didn’t think it was a problem, even though I would do things like get arrested and put in the drunk tank. Everyone else around me was doing the same things because I’d gone to a party school, they were all drinking the same way as I was. I didn’t think it could be a problem until I started to hide it from people. I got in an abusive relationship so I would drink to numb that. I started missing events that involved drinking that I used to really like to plan. At that point, I just wanted to drink the way I wanted to; to oblivion. I just wanted to drink and pass out. I would lose time. I start to get ready for work at 7pm because I thought it was 7am. I wasn’t able to go to class because my anxiety was so bad. I would stay in my room and ask someone else to hand in my assignments. That’s when I started to think I drank differently than other people. My friends started pulling away from me. By senior year, even my drinking friends didn’t want to drink all the time because they were trying to get internships and get jobs and I couldn’t really understand that. I couldn’t identify with them.”
Amidst the chaos, Dani still managed to graduate summa cum laude before returning home. “We joke that rehab was my graduation present,” remembered Dani. “I think I was home for maybe three weeks [before going to treatment]. The whole time [at school], my parents started to suspect I had a problem because I was hospitalized a lot. They sort of thought it was a phase because of a relationship. They would make me sign contracts to say like, I could go on spring break if I promise not to go overboard. Or, I can go back to school if I don’t drink for the semester. When I came home, I was trying this thing called “moderation management” where you don’t drink for 30 days. At that time, I lived in the gym. I just worked out for two hours and then would sit there and look for jobs. Then I would work out for another two hours because I knew if I left, I would go right to the liquor store.” This plan came crashing down after three weeks. “I was supposed to have this huge camping trip that I planned every year. Everyone gets wasted. It was my friend’s birthday and I made her a gift basket with alcohol. She was picking me up and told me she’d be 45 minutes late. I couldn’t wait the 45 minutes and I drank everything I got for her. I was unresponsive for three days. That’s when my brother found me and called my parents. That’s when they said ‘you need rehab’.”
This moment led Dani to a revolving door of treatment facilities that eventually led her down a road to using harder drugs. The exhaustion of the back and forth led Dani to come to terms with the idea of long-term treatment. She found herself in detox once again, without contact with her family and a very real fear that she would end up dead. Dani surrendered to the idea of a long term stay and agreed to come to Turnbridge.
“My first feeling when I first pulled up [to Prospect] was still ‘I don’t know if I can do this’. I knew my parents had sacrificed everything to put me here. I had always been to state run places and I had just been living on the street. When I first got here, I was up at 6:00am every day doing my chore. I was doing everything I could because I was so afraid [this opportunity] would be taken away from me or I would do something wrong.”
As Dani continued through the program, her spirituality grew and helped her to stay grounded. In fact, it was a particular spiritual experience that proved to be the turning point she had waited for. “I started to hit my knees every morning. I would pray ‘Please remove all my obsessions.’ In fact, I had challenged God over the first few months saying ‘Give me something in-your-face to show me you exist. She me something so I can trust you.’ About three months in [to treatment], I had just started a job at [a coffee shop]. I was walking to a bus stop when a woman came up to me. I thought she was just a Bible thumper she kept telling me to read Psalm 139. I just said ‘No, thank you’ and she looked at me. She said, ‘I know this sounds crazy ma’am, but I just want you to know you are going to be relieved of all your obsessions. You have no idea what’s planned for you,’. I started crying. It was my prayer repeated right back to me. Then I went and read Psalm 139 and it basically said, ‘I was here in the darkness, when you denounced me, I was still there holding your hand, I haven’t gone anywhere and I will always be here with you. I have been with you through the darkness,’. I called my sponsor and from then on, I dove into step work. I took advantage of everything I was offered. I opted to start EMDR therapy. I just worked so hard be because I realized there was something there. I just had faith that whatever was planned was better than whatever was in my head.”
Currently, Dani is working on getting a car and planning on applying to graduate school. “Right now, I’m struggling with a lot of financial insecurity. I’ve done a lot of damage in the past. I’m waiting to hear back about a car that I’m supposed to pick up. I need this car in order to get this job that will pay for my grad school. It’s frustrating because I feel like I need this one piece to set up my whole future. It’s those growing pains of growing out of one stage of your life without being fully grown into another yet, so that’s been a struggle.” Despite this struggle, Dani still manages to find gratitude. “The struggles I face now- like fear and doubt and financial insecurity- I think about what a blessing it is to even have these things to worry about, and to just be sane and stable and have a program to throw at everything in life that’s thrown at me.”
One of the biggest difference Dani recognizes in herself is “I didn’t get into a relationship this time. That had always been my way out, a relationship with another addict. That was always my distraction from dealing with things in myself. Now, I feel like I genuinely love myself and don’t feel like I need another half because I’m not a half a person anymore. I am complete and any love I choose to have in my life will be a choice and not a necessity.”
Dani has also worked on repairing the relationship with her family. “They are coming up for my year this week and I’m making amends to them. They’re beyond proud. Now, I don’t call them as much when things are going wrong. I have other people to call. I also don’t want to burden them. All I can ask from them is love and support, which they have always given. My dad is in therapy now, and even with his resentments towards the things I’ve done; he felt so guilty about bringing that up to me. I said to him, ‘But what does that say about us right now? That you have the confidence in my sobriety to say that to me and don’t feel like you have to walk on eggshells?’ That’s a big step,”. Embracing opportunity and being willing to try long term treatment was a huge step for Dani in building her life today. “What’s different [about Turnbridge] is they have everything you could want to get out of not just a program, but out of life. There are so many people who are well versed in so many different things and they are all here to help. When I’d see people leave, I saw the lengths staff would go to follow them. Then I’d see them come back and start to get better because people cared enough to go after them. I’ve never seen that at treatment before. Especially in the beginning, I felt safe because I didn’t trust myself and knew if I made a bad decision based on impulse, they would go above and beyond for me. I’ve never been to a place where they don’t give up on you.”
Kassidy C. is an alumnus of the Womens Program.
“I was just a really depressed, bottom of the barrel alcoholic,” Kassidy recalled. Before coming to Turnbridge, Kassidy was in a place of misery and desperation. “I was incredibly depressed. Eventually I’d gotten to the point where I didn’t want to want to kill myself anymore.”
“I graduated college and was staying in the town my college was in. I was there for a year and a half, just working nearby and living my life. I was just getting by every day. I was a radio host at the time, so that was the one grounding thing in my life. Looking back, I was doing everything to ruin my career. I was going to the radio station wasted. I was on air drunk. All I cared about was my job, but I didn’t have the tools to take anything seriously. I was so deep in my addiction and didn’t realize that what I was doing was so detrimental to my future.”
Before getting to this point of abusing alcohol, Kassidy struggled with mental health issues in her childhood. “I had pretty bad anxiety and depression starting in seventh grade. I had been on meds all of middle and high school right before I went to college. I thought it was a phase and I’d outgrown it, so I decided to go off my medication because I thought I was better. In retrospect, I had only felt better because I was medicated. In college, being unmedicated plus the alcohol really spiraled me.”
As much as she had tried to hide her drinking, “just about every single person in my life noticed. None of my friends from college are addicts. They were all good kids. Junior year, they really realized things were going bad [with me]. I was getting arrested; I was being sent to the hospital. No one knew what to do about it. They would have group meetings without me there about what to do.” Despite her friend’s best intentions, these meetings made Kassidy feel even more alone. “They were trying to figure out how to deal with it amongst themselves and that made me feel even more isolated. Toward the end, I was able to drink socially really well only because I knew the party would end around 12am or 1am. When everyone left, that’s when I would get completely wasted and belligerent alone in my room. It was a mask and made it seem like I could keep it together in front of everyone.”
Her mask did not last for long, and the pressure of responsibility caused Kassidy to crack. “Once I realized how much I owed on student loans and realized I wasn’t making enough money even working two jobs, I stopped caring about everything. I thought ‘you know what? I’m not going to be able to pay these loans. I’m not going to be able to pay my rent. I’m going to end up in a hole somewhere anyway.’ That’s when my drinking went even further, which I didn’t think was possible.”
This was not the first time Kassidy thought she may need help. “I thought I had a problem ever since I was 18. I always thought it was something I’d have to address one day, but I didn’t know what to do for it to be addressed. A few months before coming to Turnbridge, I said out loud to my mom ‘I think I’m an alcoholic,’. I have always had an open relationship with my mom. At the time, I thought our relationship was great but I didn’t realize all the stress and emotional crap I was putting her through. She was surprised [when I told her]. She didn’t think I was an alcoholic. Personally, I think that maybe she was naïve or uneducated about addiction. I thought maybe she was in denial, because there had been so many huge episodes in a year period and alcohol was the common denominator in every situation.”
Eventually, Kassidy’s drinking came to a head and the chaos led her to seek treatment. “I had a great job but I was so depressed, I stopped going. By the second day of not going, I was drinking 24/7, rocking back and forth in the fetal position in my apartment. My roommate came home and saw what a disheveled mess I was and called my mom. My parents drove to New Hampshire, picked me up, and brought me home. They said ‘We have to send you somewhere; you cannot keep living like this.’ It was very relieving. I didn’t want to live the way I was living anymore. It was scary. It was really scary. I was relieved knowing that what felt like madness was going to come to an end.” Although Kassidy was willing to get help, she did not know what she was in for. “I was really nervous about all the work that I knew was inevitable. I had never tried to get sober before so I was terrified of this world of things that I didn’t know anything about. Ultimately, I was relieved something was going to step in and stop the chaos that was my life.”
Kassidy remembers feeling “overwhelmed” when first arriving at Turnbridge. “I didn’t talk to anyone for my first three weeks or so. It takes me a while to get to know people. At first, I went into defense mode. Overall, I was just intimidated. I was intimidated by other girls; I was intimidated by staff.” After a few weeks of apprehension, Kassidy can pinpoint a specific moment when she began to feel at home. “A few weeks after I’d been there, some new girls that I really got along with came in. It was one Friday night and we were all hanging out in the library. I had started getting to know these people and one of the girls said ‘hey, Kassidy is actually really funny.’ By her saying that, I was able to lower all my defenses.”
It’s the relationships with her peers that Kassidy credits with helping her the most. “My biggest piece of advice to all the girls at Prospect is to get to know the women around you. These are the girls that are going to take you through the program because you can’t let boys or silly stuff get in the way of the foundation you’re trying to build. I’m still such close friends with so many people I went through the program with. For me, it was definitely letting myself finally get to know other people that changed my entire experience.”
Aside from forming relationships, Kassidy said she initially struggled with trusting authority. “In my eyes, my case manager represented authority and that was something I had to overcome. That was an ego thing I had to check. I have always been very independent so I didn’t like the idea of someone telling me what to do. I was able to work through this with time and working the steps with my sponsor.” Once she began working with a sponsor, Kassidy noticed a dramatic difference in her world. “Once I started working the steps, the entire program changed for me and I became a completely different person. The problems I had in the beginning weren’t an issue once I got deep into step work.”
Not only did Kassidy experience her world change, but she said “everything about me changed. I came in unknowingly a very scared, intimidated and shy person. I am now fully confident in my work ethic. I’m confident in the friend that I am to other people. I’m confident in the friendships I’ve made through this program. I’m just really proud of the person I am today and I couldn’t say that before.”
The drastic change in herself has extended to Kassidy’s relationship with her family. “My mom doesn’t have to worry about me anymore. My relationship with my sisters has really changed. They trust my sobriety and they trust that I’m not going to be a crazy person making episodes out of nothing. It’s been incredible for me to see my younger sisters being comfortable around me again.”
Kassidy has graduated the program and is currently working as Support Staff at Phases 1 and 2. In terms of her future, Kassidy said “I’m confident that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. I do like to plan for the future; however, I know that by not using everything is going to be ok, and that is the most important to me. I know that by not using I’ll be able to navigate the rest of my life. To me, that’s priceless because I’ve never been able to say that before.”
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