I came to Shelterwood on the morning of April 15th, marking the beginning of the hardest journey I ever had to take.
My life began to get crazy at the beginning of high school when my thoughts and actions got continually worse. I started to develop a very negative outlook on my life, which brought about my decision to use drugs. This continued until the beginning of my junior year, which initially started off much better than my previous years in high school. During first semester of my junior year, I began being much more active and social, which helped me to think more positively about my future and I felt hope for things that were yet to come. Sadly, these hopeful feelings only lasted for first semester. My old thought patters began to resurface and I began to question life all the time. I felt my doubts were impossible to overcome, and so I began seeking out drugs and would do anything to get high.
Once I began heavily abusing an accessible over-the-counter medication, everything began to come crashing down. My grades were falling like crazy and I began to hate everything in life. Nothing seemed good to me anymore; I was plunging deeper into complete and utter hopelessness. I constantly thought about ending my life and the more I thought about it, the more it became a reality and not just a crazy thought in my head.
About two months after Christmas, I had a confrontation with my dad, which ended with my parents beginning to catch on to what I was doing. That night I decided that I had to take my life.
The very next day I attempted to overdose on medication out in the middle of nowhere, but a cop found me passed out in my car because he saw a light on in my car, which, by the way, I don’t ever remember turning on.
After being in the hospital and going to a short-term facility, I was back home and wanted to do better. I could not stand the pain I had caused my family and began to hate myself even more, which lead me back to drugs and the same hopeless place I was in before. Watching me very closely and having to walk around on eggshells, my parents found out I was using again and knew they had to find a safe place for me to go and recover. When they told me I needed to go somewhere, I could see the pain on their faces and hear the helplessness in their voices. I said, “yes” and was actually excited to finally see some hope in my life.
A few days later my parents found Shelterwood and I packed my stuff and left within a couple days. Leaving home was tough, but I wanted to change for my family and knew I could not change on my own. Once I arrived, I just kind of got into the flow of things, but my mind was still in a terrible place, and I figured there was no way I would make it through the entire program.
The first three months were awful. I was searching for hope and trying to battle my continual suicidal thoughts, but felt helpless in trying to change the way I thought. My mentor was great, having him there to talk through all the questions I had. He definitely played a huge part in helping me through my early stages of Shelterwood. I did absolutely nothing in school, but did begin to pick up the Bible and read through Job and Mathew during class, searching for a reason to live and to get past my unanswered questions about life and who God really was.
After hitting rock bottom at Shelterwood I came back from school one day and just broke down in my room. I cried out, yelling at God and asking for help. I was so far down in my hopelessness and shame that I never thought I could climb back out. That night one of the mentors was doing a Bible study and during it he asked for a show of hands for whoever thought they were going to heaven. I did not raise my hand. He came over to me asking if I wanted to go on a walk around the loop. We just talked a lot about Jesus and I talked about a few of my questions. The Holy Spirit was touching my heart like crazy the entire time we were talking and I can’t really explain it, but I just started to understand what it seemed I was blind to in regards to who God was. I realized that I only looked at the negative things in everything, including God. My mind was racing as we finish our talk, and I headed to my room, grateful to find it empty.
Still thinking about it all, I began to pray and ask God to come into my life and lead me because I knew with me leading me, there had been nothing but destruction for my life. That day represents the end of rock bottom and the beginning of hope and peace within myself, which lead to a rapid and true recovery within my heart. Life was still hard and the hopeless thinking did not end completely, but it no longer ruled over my life.
Within a month, my thought patterns had completely reversed and I could finally start to talk about my future in a positive way. I have seen where I take myself and it is not a good place, to say the least. I can only hope and look forward to see where God will take my life in the future.
Thank you, Shelterwood, for giving me a home and a place to meet so many people I would have never normally been able to have friendships with back home. Also, I would like to thank all the mentors and staff for always being there and always so willing to help out us teens and having the patience to go through this process with us. Thank you, teachers, for always encouraging me and being there whenever I needed help or had a question, and for being so patient and always slowing down or helping us out individually whenever it was needed. My counselor has been a huge part of my recovery, so I thank you so much for that and also for caring so much about our family and treating us as if we were part of your own. I want to thank all of my classmates for being so encouraging to me and to others as well. Remember, you are all in this together and nearly all of us had the same simple goal, even though it is really not all that simple: Fix our problems so that we can get the heck out of Shelterwood. So fight through this part of your lives together so when you get thrown to the ground, there is always a hand to pick you back up. Thank you, family, for the strength you mustered to send me here and for never giving up on me, but instead continuing to give me chance after chance after chance. Lastly, I want to thank God for getting me through and always being there even in my darkest moments.