Although treatment is hard, long, and emotionally exhausting everyday, there are also hundreds of positive things that I wouldn’t take back for the world. Here are the top five highlights that I now live with daily.
- Growing closer, more authentic connections with my family members: Through the everyday therapy, phone calls and distance, I have learned to appreciate the time spent with my family members. We were able to talk through our emotions with one another and not be so afraid of being vulnerable, which has carried over since treatment and I’m so grateful for them in my life :)
- Understanding who I am and what I believe in: Being pushed everyday emotionally helped me develop a better understanding of who I am and the core beliefs I have about myself and in everyday situations. I’ve learned how I have coped with hardships in the past (impulsively, over-reactions, avoiding) and practiced how to cope appropriately in the future!
- Real-life skills: When I was in treatment, there were daily routines of cleaning, getting out of bed (at what seemed like, a ridiculously early hour), accepting “no” answers, and “checking back” with one of the staff about a task they previously told me to do. All of these things seemed unrealistic to me and I couldn’t really understand what the purpose was behind them. When I graduated the program, I can’t tell you how often I have cleaned for work or even just around my apartment, how I have had to get up early for classes, accepting “no” answers from my therapist or boss, and informing someone once I have finished doing something they asked me to. I’ve probably used about every skill from treatment in real-life situations!
- Gratitude for the little things: When I was in treatment, even to this day, I was going through difficult things everyday and something that I had learned over time was that the little things were the big things in life. I got the idea one day to start a gratitude journal, which was most beneficial to me when these difficult times did arise. I’d acknowledge people, things, quotes, and events that I was thankful for which helped me feel less sad or stressed, and more happy and appreciative of my life.
- Friendships for the rest of my life: What truly supported me the most when I was struggling were the people around me. The staff and girls in treatment with me were always there for me and I knew I could talk to them without judgment. Because of this, I was able to develop healthy relationships with them and, to this day, I still keep in touch with some of them. I made so many real and authentic connections and memories that I can’t imagine my life without now. They’re so important to me.
About the author: Jane Smith* is now in a transitional program and turned 18 in August, 2016. She attended a wilderness therapy program after her first treatment program & then enrolled in a second residential treatment program, where she graduated in June from high school. Jane was accepted into a university, and chose to have an intentional transition out of treatment and a year off to work & grow. Jane is without the structure of residential treatment, and has a job, a cell phone, a social media presence, and continues to develop authentic relationships with her family. * Name changed for confidentiality.