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Alumni Events Recovery

Alumni Family Weekend 2014: A Success!

The Alumni Family Weekend has been a celebrated piece of the Visions puzzle for several Visions Alumni Staff 2014years. It has grown and evolved into a widely celebrated event involving parents, alumni, and staff. We always start out the weekend with an alumni-family dinner. It’s so nice to see families from years’ past as well as recent and current families. The dinner is a nice way to launch a weekend of recovery fun, service projects, and the inimitable Alumni vs. Staff softball game.

 

Roxie Fuller, our Alumni Coordinator did a phenomenal job planning this event with the help of her amazing support team, Chloe Huerta and Nick Riefner.  We had an incredibly diverse array of alumni in attendance along with their families. There were even a few alumni who brought their babies to introduce to the Visions family. What a beautiful thing to witness: our alumni’s transformation into parenthood and beyond.

 

This year, the service project included a pet adoption that the kids and their families could participate in. We have been proud partners with Free Love Animal Rescue in Brentwood since April and it was a pleasure to include alumni and current families in this service work. Working with animals can be a wonderful salve for the heart. Many of our teens volunteer with Free Love Animal Rescue during their time in outpatient, Launch, NeXT and at the Day School.

 

Our softball game was off the hook this year! It was Fiesta themed! Our bellies were full and happy thanks to the taco truck on site. We had a solid scorekeeper this year: Bill Hoban! And staff finally got our title back. We won fair and square. It was an amazing game and no one lost an eye! All in all, it was a perfect end to this year’s Alumni Family Weekend.

 

“What another fun and successful Alumni Weekend! It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and catch up on what our alumni have going on in their lives. Thank you so much to Chloe, Nick, and of course Miss Roxie! These three worked so hard and clocked in many man hours to put this event together.” – Lianne Domingo

 

“The weekend was awesome! Between the unity of the clients both current and past and the hardworking spirit of all the staff alumni weekend was again possible and exciting!” – Nick Riefner

 

“As a fellow alumni being a part of the team that plans the big alumni weekend was an honor. I had a great time seeing so many teens and families doing well. It was really cool to catch up with some alumni that I went to Visions with. I’m so happy so many people came out this weekend! I couldn’t have done it without Roxie, Nick, and Christina.” –Chloe Huerta

 

“This past weekend had me reflecting on how Visions continues to evolve.  We have become so much more than just a treatment center…Visions is a community proudly claimed by so many coast-to-coast and even world wide.  From Staff to Alumni Parents, Teens and now Young Adults…we all have a common thread…we are all Visions Family.” – Christina Howard-Micklish

 

We are grateful for the turnout and diverse array of alumni and their families that joined us this year. We know that no matter what happens in the lives of our alumni, they will always have a community ready to support them. Thank you to all who attended this year,  and a special shoutout to Roxie, Chloe and Nick for their hard work and dedication to making this year’s Alumni Family Weekend such a success. Until next year!

Categories
Alumni Events Recovery School Service

Visions Cultivates Community

Walking into our Day School is emblematic of the cultivation of community. The kids are in support of each other, bonded by difficulty and a desire to change, and they are aptly supported by a team of a deeply compassionate clinical and support staff. On a given day, you may encounter laughter, tears, struggle, and frustration, joy, triumph, and accomplishment. And regardless of which of those experiences is present, they are held in a safe container of support; a container which is ultimately community.

 

A fear that is often present for teens in treatment is the suggestion that their peer group will need to change.  In a successful environment of recovery, that peer group does need to change. However, part of the recovery process includes the cultivation of a healthier, more supportive community of peers–a community that is desirous of shifting the old paradigm to one that is conducive to the mental health and stability they seek.

 

I asked Joseph Rogers, MDiv Canditate and teacher at Visions for 5 ways in which Visions helps teens cultivate community:

 

1: Engaging in social activities together. Visions supports weekly sober fun activities and recovery fun groups. Clients in our extended care have regular weekend activities such as paintball, beach trips, gardening, hiking, et cetera.

 

2: Having a spiritual support community such as Young People’s AA, where the young people are in charge of their own groups. This creates a sense of empowerment and encourages healthy independence.

 

3: Allow the clients to support one another. When a client asks if they can check in with another client, we almost never say no. It’s important that the clients see each other as a support system, especially post treatment.

 

4: Alumni activities. Keep our former clients in contact with each other and remind them of the support system they have in place. Our annual Alumni Weekend is a prime example of this. Additionally, all alumni are encouraged to come to the Friday night recovery meeting.

 

5:  Visions encourages alumni to sponsor current clients and to come back to work at Visions as employees. This way, clients can see the full cycle of recovery.

We are looking forward to seeing alumni and current clients and their families at the upcoming Alumni Weekend.  This community is at the core of what we do, and supporting families in their recovery is our heart.  It is always a joy to see our alumni thriving in their recovery and reconnecting with them.

Categories
Adolescence Alumni Guest Posts Bipolar Disorder Recovery Self-Care

Wise Words on Self-Care: A Guest Post from Alumni

Self-care is one of the most important things we learn to do in recovery. When we drink and use, or when we suffer from mental illness, we look for outside sources to self-soothe. Our internal resources are often verboten to us; they are either non-existent or significantly unsafe. The recovery process helps us cultivate that inner resource, where we become able to self-soothe, and take care of our own needs without sacrificing our well-being.

 

Occasionally, one of our alumni writes guest posts for us, sharing what it’s like to be a young adult in recovery from mental illness and addiction, and how she is learning to live fully. To every woman I work with, I encourage self-care. To every newcomer I meet and extend my hand, I encourage self-care. This young lady really breaks down some of the necessary components of finding and cultivating self-care. I’m honored to share her voice:

Personal or self-awareness is essential when acknowledging and learning about yourself. Recognition of your needs is the first step. Second would be to put those things into action. In dealing with physical needs you must first distinguish the basics.

Sleep is essential for all humans; it plays a major role in ones emotional state. Exercise also has a sizeable portion in a healthy life. Staying active is vital in maintaining ones physical health. Whether it be a lot or a little, it is incredibly important. Keep in mind that exercise of any kind releases endorphins in the brain, and this is equally significant in supporting and preserving a healthy emotional state of mind.

When it comes to both of these forms of self-care, moderation is imperative. Where sleep and exercise are helpful and quite necessary, too much or too little of each of these things are not. Too much sleep may indicate a person who is suffering from depression. Sleeping the day away could be a direct result of trying to hide or suppress feelings. Sleeping too little could also suggest that a person is overworked or even depressed.

On the other hand, exercise, while very important, should not become your main focus. If exercise becomes an obsession, this could be viewed as a type of disorder (specifically having to do with your health concerning your weight and appetite). And exercising too little may force you to become sluggish and will not help your healthfulness.

Hygiene and nutrition are two more exceedingly important factors to be aware of when handling self-care. Hygiene goes without saying, but nutrition is something that many either do not take into consideration at all, or become preoccupied with. Overall, physical needs transfer to emotional wellness when you begin to take your health and wellbeing into your own hands.

For emotional security, taking pride in yourself is crucial when working on self-care. Doing things for you should be your main priority. As my mom often says, “You cannot help someone else without first taking care of yourself.” Happiness comes from doing what you love, so pursue hobbies that you find joy in and take pleasure in. For me, that means going on a bike ride, playing the drums, taking photos, and writing. It took me a long time to find things I genuinely liked. For some people, they have known their whole life and even turn it into a profession. Others may pursue their passion as a hobby and many people have yet to find out what they love to do. Even if you don’t really pursue something, there are plenty of things that you can do to have fun and enjoy yourself.

Some other activities one can partake in are singing, dancing, taking a drive, or riding a train, taking a bath, going to the beach or for a swim, getting a massage, or even being of service to someone else in some way.

Doing kind things for other people is probably one of the most helpful things you can do for you. Helping others encourages you to get out of yourself.

Acknowledging my own specific difficulties and balancing love and patience for myself with gratitude and recognition for what I already have is a critical balance. For example, I personally struggle with manic-depression, or Bi-Polar disorder. This means that taking my medication for the mental illness that I face is a fundamental and key part of upholding and literally balancing my life.

Reaching out to others whether it is a friend, relative, or a therapist, is a productive way to take care of your mental state. Checking in with someone to not only talk about your struggles and/or triumphs, but also about theirs, is a great method when encouraging self-care for you and others. For those of us in 12-step programs, calling a sponsor and going to meetings is a positive way to turn your frown upside down. Relating to another person is almost always helpful when you are struggling with something. Going to a meeting can get you out of your head and into the open arms of a fellow 12-stepper.

Many people believe that spirituality plays a large role in turning one’s attitude around. I believe that no matter what religion you practice, faith you believe in, or Higher Power you trust and respect, you can find self-care in spirituality. My teacher, and someone that I look up to and greatly respect likes to approach every situation with a level of compassion that is almost unheard of. However you practice self-care, do it kindly, but whatever you do, get into action.

Categories
Addiction Adolescence Alumni Guest Posts Bipolar Disorder Mental Health Recovery

Alumni Voices: “I’m 17, Bipolar and In Recovery”

I’m pleased to share a guest post from one of our Alumni, bravely sharing about her experience as a bipolar teen in recovery. She is not only inspiring and courageous, her post is a testament to the clarity and hope willingness and recovery brings.

 

“I’m 17, Bipolar and in Recovery”

How old are you when you are in the 5th grade? Ten, maybe 11 years old? I was probably closer to 11 given that I was held back in preschool. Now, who exactly gets held back in preschool? I didn’t really pay it any mind when I was in preschool, yet I still struggle with the shame of having repeated a grade so early on in my education. I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable in the 3rd grade for having to be pulled out of class to learn to read in a private room with Mrs. A, the learning specialist teacher. Learning to read had come so easily to my older sister, C; it was not the same case for me.

So back to my original question: I was 11, and I had already been diagnosed with ADHD. By the time I was in the 8th grade, I was prescribed 100 mg of Adderall per day. Well, it turns out that I did have a mild case of ADHD, yet it also turns out that ADHD is commonly misdiagnosed and mistaken for bipolar Disorder. No one found out that I had a mood disorder until I came to Visions.

 

It is not uncommon for a person who is bipolar to not want to take their medication. The first time I went through Visions treatment I was diagnosed as having mood instability and not full-blown bipolar Disorder. This mood disorder accounts for a lot of the feelings I was having before and even after I came through Visions. Before I reached the point of needing inpatient care for the first time, which far preceded the time in which it took for me to ask for it, I had experienced quite a bit of depression. I have also dealt with my fair share of manic episodes.

 

For someone with a mood instability disorder, drugs of any kind will make for a much more painful and deep depression, a much more insane manic high, and will far from help the situation. This is not to say that abusing any kind of drugs or medication, illicit or otherwise, will help anyone. Yet, when your brain chemistry is already messed up and you continue to pile any kind of chemically enhanced drugs on top of that, it makes for a manic-depressive individual.

 

It is not uncommon for a person who is bipolar to not want to take their medication. The first time I left treatment, I wasn’t taking my medication as prescribed. I missed many days in a row, I took it at different times throughout the day, and I even flushed a whole handful of my pills down the toilet. This definitely didn’t help my condition. The combination of illicit drug use, consistently missing my meds, and a variety of other unpleasant behaviors can only lead to a few options. Those of us in recovery know what those options are.

 

Given that I had already been locked up in a psych ward at the age of 14, had not yet been to Juvi, and was still breathing, the last option would be recovery.

 

I haven’t discussed my recovery much because it is not only something I deal with on a daily basis, but it is also something that I am quite insecure about. As I have already shared, I have been through Visions Adolescent Treatment twice. I once had almost a year and a half of sobriety. I had gotten sober at 15, yet I prided myself on the time I had sober, and not the work I was doing. How could I? I wasn’t actually working a program.

 

I had struggled with the idea of sobriety the moment I found out what the other residents were using in my inpatient program. I had only been smoking weed, while the other residents were in treatment for much harder drugs. I knew that I deserved to be there; my story was pretty intense, yet I still felt insecure about my drug use.

 

That statement alone is what reminds me on a daily basis that I need to be sober. Only an addict-alcoholic would feel the need to go further and to use harder. I guess that wasn’t enough for me, because after about a year and four months of sobriety, I relapsed. This time, it did not take long for me to realize how utterly unmanageable my life was.

 

I did not need to prove to anyone else that it was a good idea for me to be sober, especially not my mother. That’s another good point: Only someone who is extremely sick and in their illness would put someone they love in that much pain. I guess I still had to prove it to myself.

 

Today, when I have a moment where I think of using, I think of my family. I say to myself, “Even if I’m not an addict, I couldn’t put them through what I used to.” I believe that the “issues” I deal with are not only related to one another, but they are also a gift: Not only is my recovery a gift, but I see my bipolar disorder as a gift as well. I feel lucky to have the ability to feel things as intensely as I do. I hope that this will be that last time I am getting sober. I will take one day at a time in keeping it that way.

 

Categories
Adolescence Alumni Events Recovery

The Annual Alumni Ski Trip! It’s Finally Here!

This is it: time for our annual Alumni Big Bear Ski trip,

Ski Bear Mountain (Photo credit: miheco)

and we are over the moon! It’s one of the favorite alumni events of the year, and the fact that 6 more weeks of winter have been predicted (thanks, Punxsutawney Phil!), and the fact that snow is falling, we are raring to go.

 

It’s always an adventure complete with community building activities, epic goofiness, 12-step meetings, fellowship, and a burrito-eating contest. Yes, you read that last part correctly. There’s a place in Big Bear that sells something called the “Big Juan” burrito. It’s a 4-pound burrito and if you can eat it in 45 minutes, you win a T-shirt. There is always someone willing, no matter the warnings of sickness and overwhelm.  It must be some T-shirt! We’ll post pics if someone dares to take this challenge.

 

The best part of this trip is the alumni community. Alumni are given the opportunity to reconnect with one another, bond and share stories of recovery, downfalls, and encouragement. Some come just for that, even though they don’t ski or snowboard. In fact, there has been many a time where alumni have helped each other out on the slopes, guiding each other down their first hill or their 100th.  Team work, fellowship, goofiness, laughter, hot cocoa, marshmallows, and the inevitable teen prank: It’s all worth every moment.

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Recovery

Visions Says Goodbye to JuliAnn Crommelin: Alum and Staff Extraordinaire

JuliAnn Crommelin has always been an incredible light at Visions. She came to us at 17, and during her time as an adolescent in treatment, JuliAnn grounded herself in her recovery and was inspired to give back. She went from alumni to staff as soon as she could. Since March, 2006, JuliAnn availed herself to the staff, clients, and families, drinking up knowledge and developing skills, which enabled her to become an incredible source of inspiration and recovery.

 

Over the last 7 years, JuliAnn has personified the face of Visions in everything she does, be it working as a program aide, a counselor, an outreach coordinator, or most recently, the alumni coordinator. Everything JuliAnn does, she does with willingness and heart. Recently, an opportunity arose for the Outreach Coordinator position at Promises and Visions encouraged JuliAnn to pursue it. We are proud to announce: She got the job!

 

Our greatest desire is to encourage those that come through our doors to pursue that which celebrates their greatest assets and encourages them to reach higher than they could imagine. This, in essence, is what it means to inspire the growth of one’s roots and wings. We are tremendously excited for JuliAnn’s next adventure. What she brings to the table is wholeheartedly kind, helpful, and seeped in recovery with a remarkable willingness to learn.

 

I took the time to talk to JuliAnn and get a gist of her experience at Visions. She couldn’t say enough about the endless encouragement and support she’s received from Amanda and Chris Shumow, along with the rest of Visions’ family. She said,

“Amanda encouraged me to become a counselor and supported my growth. The Shumows always saw my potential and encouraged it. Visions has always been an advocate for me, motivating me to be my best, and encouraging me to go further than I could imagine.”

 

How would you sum up your time at Visions?

“I grew up there. I learned how to become a responsible adult, with dreams and aspirations. My experience at Visions was truly familial.”

 

How do you feel about your transition?

After years and years of Visions believing in me and training me, and seeing something in me that I couldn’t see myself, I am finally ready to expand. I’m excited!

  

What will you miss?

I’ll miss everybody. The camaraderie–all of my friends work there. Honestly, the thing that’s scariest about this adventure is not seeing my friends every day!

I’ll definitely miss the Shumows. They are so relatable!  They always wanted to know about me, and how they could help me enjoy my time at Visions and help me grow. This was the case from the very beginning.”

 

After many years of encouragement and dedication to hard work, JuliAnn is ready to spread her wings! While we are sad to see her go, we are elated that she is living and following her dream.  This is her last week with us.  We celebrate her time here, encourage her future, and revel in her enthusiasm. She will always be a part of the Visions family and we wish remarkable success and freedom to continue to expand her wings and deepen her roots.

Categories
Adolescence Alumni Events Recovery Service

Visions Alumni Weekend, 2013!

The Visions Alumni weekend is fast approaching and we are really looking forward to three days of sober fun! Each year, alumni get a chance to reconnect with their fellow alumni, challenge the staff to a softball game, and engage in team building activities that are chock full of laughter and joy.  For us, it’s a pleasure to see the evolution of our alumni as they gotten more rooted in their recovery.

 

This Alumni Weekend is going to be stellar. Day one: We start the weekend off with an amazing dinner and bowling. Day two: There is an opportunity for service work during the day and a 12-step meeting in the evening. Day three: Softball and the pièce de résistance: we have the Grilled Cheese Truck firing up their griddle and making us sammys! I anticipate great fun.

 

Many alumni have called asking which staff members will be there because so many folks are looking forward to reconnecting. This is one of the many areas where we shine! We are the Visions family, and with that comes the inclusion of alumni past and present who rely upon us to be the bedrock in their recovery experience.

Without further adieu, here’s some baseball inspiration. We aim to for silliness and fun and we know you do too!

https://youtu.be/4uc7beYpGXM?t=4s

Categories
Addiction Adolescence Alumni Guest Posts Recovery

Alumni Post: What I’ve Learned About Myself in Treatment

submitted by Grayson

I have learned a lot about myself in treatment so far. I have learned that I have a lot of insecurities about myself and that was a large factor in why I was using drugs. I was using so much because I didn’t want to feel anything at all. I didn’t want to think about if people liked me or didn’t want to be around me, so I would use drugs to drown out those thoughts.

I know that a big reason why I feel like I can’t talk to people and have conversations is because I basically forgot how. I was isolated for so long and didn’t have conversations with people for such a long time that I forgot how to and what to talk about with people. But what I’m realizing now that I’ve been sober and in treatment is that it’s really not that hard to talk to people and to meet new people. I have also learned that there is a lot to like about me, which I haven’t thought of in a long time, and it feels good.

I have seen how fun life can be while being sober. I have not thought in a long time that I would go a day without using, but that has changed. I see how drugs have affected me physically. I never really thought that I looked any different because of drugs or while I’m on drugs. But I can now see how much of an effect it had on me physically. Since the day I got here, my face has changed a lot. I see the picture they took of me on my first day, and I look so much healthier now that I’m sober. Also my attitude has changed a lot since I’ve been sober. I think much more highly of myself, my ability to talk to others, my ability to talk in front of groups, and the way I look at myself. I do not plan to ever use drugs again in my life. I have realized that I have such a strong addictive personality, and when I use once I won’t stop.

This place has had a great impact on my life and the way I look at life. I have realized that life can be an awesome experience when sober, much better than when using. I want to continue the way I think about myself and my outlook on life.

 

Categories
Alumni Events

Annual Alumni Event

Once again, we’ve happened upon that time of year for some organized, sober fun at our annual Alumni Weekend! In addition to the standard softball game that everyone invariably loves, there are a slew of other happenings ready for the taking. Haven’t RSVP’d yet? You still have time! The event is sure to be a blast for the entire family!

Aside from the planned activities, this weekend also proves to be a great time for reconnecting with alumni you haven’t seen in a while. It’s also an opportunity to discover how much fun you can have without the hindrance of drugs and alcohol. There was once a time when a party meant getting the various mind-altering accouterments “necessary” to have fun, only to find that the party wasn’t as full of jocular camaraderie as anticipated, mostly because you were too high to remember. Things are much different now.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our difficulties in relation to recovery, we forget how much fun we can actually have. As we begin to walk to the path of rediscovery as sober beings, we have a chance to experience life in a new, more conscious way. Sober, we relearn how to dance in the waves at the beach, explore our wonderful mountain ranges, ride bikes, swim, laugh with abandon, play softball, or just hang out with friends. We discover that  having fun is not only possible, it’s necessary. In my own sobriety, I’ve found that learning to laugh in the face of adversity is far more beneficial than succumbing to the self-deprecating call to numb out. To be honest, I’ve had more fun sober than I ever had using–I laugh more, and I experience life as a fully engaged human being.
So, dust off your sense of humor and free-spirited nature and come hang out with some old (and new) friends this weekend. There will be meetings, bowling, dinners, and of course, the now infamous softball game. What’s not to love, eh? Plus, the competition on Sunday will be fierce, with staff gunning to win their title back!
**You can RSVP by emailing: alumni@visionsteen.com or calling 818-889-3665**