By the time we got B to Spring Lake Ranch, his mother, myself, and B had spent two-and-a-half years in a nightmare world of emotional chaos, heedless danger, and helplessness. He had reached a point at which he was not capable of functioning in society, and we had run out of improvised solutions. The cycle of local hospitalizations had turned into an endless loop. I was in a state of hopelessness.
While B had been stabilized over the previous two months in a private hospital, there were no indications that recovery was possible. His reaction to the idea of living on a Ranch in Vermont was along the lines of, “No f***ing way I’m living in the woods and working with animals.” However, he no longer had the option of coming home.
The team at SLR did not lead us on— for the first several months, there was no happy talk. Progress was marked by a gradual diminution of destructive expression rather than any positive signs. What he needed was time, peace, appropriate medication, and expectations calibrated to his capabilities.
After several months, some positive signs were evident. The environment at SLR enabled and reinforced these changes.
The incremental and supported pathway to independence was vital to B’s progress. After about eight months, he presented as a young man capable of making sensible and safe choices for himself. And for each of the eight months since, he has come to inhabit that role more fully.
We know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. And, currently, B is stable, sober, and committed to his meds. He recovered some friendships, enrolled in college, and is making plans for a future that I thought he might never see. We now know what is possible and will be able to hang on to hope.
I also hope that many more people facing this struggle will be able to immerse themselves in the community at the Ranch. In our case, it was the experience there that turned three lives around.