My Life Story Part 7: My Experience at Yes We Can Clinics and the Path to Recovery

Welcome back to my life story, where I’ve taken you through a series of deep valleys, from my anxiety-ridden childhood and struggles with bullying, to my tumultuous teenage years grappling with addiction and mental health challenges. Today, I want to talk about a turning point in my life – my experience at Yes We Can Clinics at the age of 20. My journey to recovery at Yes We Can Clinics was like a ray of sunshine breaking through dark clouds.

After all the intense events I’ve described in my previous stories – the troubles at home, the battle with my self-image, the struggles with drugs, and the disturbing psychoses – my arrival at Yes We Can Clinics was both a moment of hope and deep uncertainty. Despite my own severe experiences, I initially felt out of place among the others. I saw my problems as less serious than theirs, which made it hard to accept that I equally needed help.

The feeling of unease and the realization that they didn’t need help remained for some young people throughout their entire stay at the clinic. Not everyone was equally positive about their participation in Yes We Can Clinics. While my decision to join was driven by a desire for positive change and personal development, there were also young people who participated not out of free will but due to external obligations. This dynamic led to a noticeable difference in motivation and engagement within the group, occasionally resulting in a tense atmosphere. Despite these challenges, I focused on my own path to recovery, driven by the opportunities the clinic offered.

The so-called “fellows” I met at Yes We Can left a deep impression on me. Each of them carries a unique story that will always stay with me. They often find themselves in situations shrouded in taboo, where society may not understand or judges them. But engaging in conversation, you quickly realize they are just people, like you and me, with dreams, fears, and hopes for a better future. What Yes We Can taught me is that even if you initially think you’re very different from someone else, there are always similarities to be found. It taught me to show more empathy, to listen to others’ stories, and to see the value in the human connection we all share. To give you an idea of the variety of people at Yes We Can Clinics, here’s a short list of the diagnoses of people I was in the clinic with:

  1. Addiction issues: Young people struggling with addictions, from drugs and alcohol to gambling and internet.
  2. Severe autism: Young individuals with severe autism who had difficulty with social interactions and were overwhelmed by sensory stimuli.
  3. Victims of exploitation: Teenagers manipulated and exploited by predatory relationships, with experiences of abuse.
  4. Aggression problems: Individuals with issues in managing aggression, often due to unprocessed traumas.
  5. Depression: Individuals suffering from severe depression, sometimes with suicidal thoughts.
  6. Bipolar disorder: Individuals with extreme mood swings, from manic episodes to deep depressions.
  7. Borderline personality disorder: Young people with unstable relationships, intense emotions, and sometimes self-harming behavior.
  8. Very difficult childhood: Young people with a traumatic childhood, including abuse or living in a family with addiction problems.
    etc

The unique approach focusing on various diagnoses, aimed at both mental and physical health, was new to me when I arrived at Yes We Can. The combination of group therapy, individual sessions, and physical activities formed a comprehensive program to help us, the fellows, overcome our addictions and underlying mental health issues.

During my time at a well-kept clinic for internal treatment, I experienced a structured and nurturing environment designed to promote healing and growth. Each day, I was provided with three tasty, nutritious meals, ensuring my physical health was a priority. The clinic’s program included daily group sessions that offered education on psychological health, dedicated time for working on a workbook, discussions in smaller groups, and, several times a week, personal one-on-one sessions tailored to my individual needs.

An essential part of the clinic’s approach to recovery involved physical and outdoor activities, crucial to the treatment plan. I took part in both conditioning and strength training, which not only improved my physical fitness but also had positive effects on my mental well-being. Participating in team tasks further improved my ability to work with others, teaching me valuable interpersonal skills and emphasizing the significance of community and support in the recovery process. This comprehensive approach, blending mental health support with physical activity, was key to my journey towards recovery and personal development.

At Yes We Can Clinics, I found group therapy to be an extraordinarily valuable experience. As a group of young people, we came together, shared our stories and struggles, and discovered that we were not alone in our problems. What made our sessions special was the way we communicated: by waving our hand, not so much to indicate that we wanted to speak, but as a gesture of recognition and understanding. This subtle distinction in purpose fundamentally changed the dynamic of our interactions. Instead of waiting for our turn, each wave offered a moment of direct connection, allowing us to acknowledge each other’s feelings and experiences without interruption.

This method of communication cultivated a deep culture of listening within our group, turning our sessions into a safe haven where every member felt free to be open and vulnerable. The result was twofold: we were encouraged to listen patiently and attentively, and we also experienced a profound sense of recognition and appreciation when our gestures were seen and respected. This approach built a strong layer of empathy and connection within our group, creating a strong sense of community and support. Through this unique form of interaction, a powerful dynamic of mutual understanding and support emerged, making each of us feel truly heard and valued.

The individual therapy sessions were pivotal for my personal development. Here, I learned to understand the causes of my behavior. These sessions helped me rediscover my own strength and potential.

Physical activities at Yes We Can Clinics played a role in my recovery process. From sports to nature walks, each activity offered a distraction and helped me gather my thoughts. These moments of physical exertion and relaxation quickly became an essential part of my daily routine and were crucial for my well-being.

We engaged in various activities that were both challenging and fun. For instance, hiking in nearby forests allowed me to appreciate the natural beauty and clear my mind. The zip-lining activity was a real adrenaline rush and taught me to face and overcome my fears. Playing football with other fellows was not only good physical exercise but also strengthened our sense of team spirit.

One of the fun activities was the snowball fights in winter. These playful moments took us all back to our childhood. It was a way to forget all worries for a moment and just live in the present.

Through my time at Yes We Can Clinics, I became more self-aware and resilient. I learned to take responsibility for my actions and to take better care of myself. A new sense of direction and purpose emerged in my life.

The final part of my stay at the clinic turned out to be unexpectedly the most challenging. Although I had made significant progress, depression overwhelmed me. This was fueled by the fear that I wouldn’t make it outside the clinic’s protective environment. This fear loomed like a dark cloud over me, making me feel overwhelmed at the prospect of returning to normal life.

During this period, I was particularly hard on myself. My thoughts often wandered to gloomy and dark places. I struggled with suicidal thoughts, something that deeply troubled me. The idea of returning to my daily life, with all its accompanying challenges and responsibilities, seemed an insurmountable task. I felt trapped by the fear of the unknown and the potential to fall back into old, destructive patterns.

These feelings of fear and uncertainty were compounded by my struggle with self-acceptance. I realized that dealing with the reality of life outside the clinic would be a major challenge. The fear of not living up to my own expectations, or those of others, seemed insurmountable. These thoughts kept me in a state of constant fear and doubt about my abilities to rejoin society.

Facing this reality led to an intense feeling of isolation, even though I was surrounded by people who wanted to help. It was a struggle between my desire for recovery and the paralyzing fear of failure. This inner conflict made the last weeks in the clinic a period of intense emotional turmoil, with each day being a fight to maintain hope and not succumb to the pressure of my own expectations and fears.

In this period, I tried to create a tight schedule in hopes of gaining control over my situation. Normally, this helped me bring structure and organize my thoughts. But this time, it backfired. The more I tried to structure my days, the more trapped I felt. The pressure to strictly follow my schedule added an extra layer of stress. It became a source of frustration rather than support.

Every deviation from the schedule caused a sense of failure, which further undermined my confidence. It was as if I was forcing myself into a straitjacket that was too tight, leaving me barely any room to breathe. This rigid approach reinforced my sense of powerlessness and contributed to the downward spiral of my mood. I realized that I needed to find a balance between structure and flexibility, but even that seemed out of reach during that period.

Now, I am immensely grateful to Yes We Can Clinics for the people I met there: coaches, counselors, fellow fellows, therapists, and support staff. Their patience, empathy, and knowledge helped me tremendously. I am thankful for the coaches who always listened and the therapists who aided me in gaining self-insight. The bond with my fellow fellows was very important; together, we shared a journey of struggle and triumph. Their support was the foundation of my recovery.

It’s important to note that the staff at Yes We Can Clinics sometimes gave advice that wasn’t entirely correct, but they always did so with the best intentions. Their commitment to my well-being was evident, and although they didn’t always have the perfect solution, I greatly appreciate their efforts to help me on my path to recovery. Their positive influence is something I will always cherish and carry with me into the future.

After my time at Yes We Can Clinics, where I received so much gratitude and lessons, I faced a new phase in my life. In the next part of my story, I will share my experiences of returning to the ‘real world’. I will candidly talk about the challenges I encountered, such as dealing with my depression after the clinic, and how I gradually built a more stable and healthier life.

The next chapter of my story is an honest portrayal of my experiences, filled with both setbacks and progress. It illustrates that, despite numerous difficulties and obstacles, there is always hope and opportunities for positive change. This part of my story highlights not only the struggle but also the discovery of strength, hope, and the ability to change.

As you will read, there were still moments of setback, but they became less frequent. Every setback, no matter how small or large, became a lesson that made me stronger. Slowly but surely, I began to understand how to face my challenges without being overwhelmed. This learning process was not easy, and each step forward required a lot from me. But through each experience, my resilience grew, and my ability to cope with difficult situations improved.

So, stay tuned for the continuation of my journey. My life story, which is still unfolding, I hope to present as a testimony of resilience and perseverance. It’s a story that is not yet complete, with each new day forming another chapter in this fascinating journey. This ongoing life story aims to show that, no matter how impassable and challenging the path may seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

The next story I’ll share again on my Threads account >

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Floris Meulensteen
Floris Meulensteen
Articles: 75

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