Before I went to Fulshear, I was emotionally unstable. I began Fulshear when I was 20 and up until I went to wilderness (which was three months before I went to Fulshear) I was still having tantrums. My emotions were very much heightened. I was angry, I was upset, I was depressed, and I was abusing drugs. I was just not in a good place to really live and function as an adult, or a human being.
"I was just not in a good place to really live and function as an adult, or a human being. "
The month leading up to wilderness I was getting out of an abusive relationship, I was smoking weed, I was failing out of school, I was a mess, and I was not able to handle my emotions. I had never really had a job, only summer jobs, so I had no source of income other than my parents. Pretty much my entire life growing up had been a series of tantrums and emotional outbursts, and I was just a very emotionally unstable person. I had threatened suicide in the past and had suicidal ideations. I didn’t really like socializing with people because I was too anxious and upset to really do anything other than look for pity. I was not a positive person and I was not a person who I would want to be around. I hated myself, I hated my life, I hated a lot of things. There was a lot of hatred, anger, and sadness in myself that I didn’t know how to deal with at all, much less in a healthy way.
"There was a lot of hatred, anger, and sadness in myself that I didn’t know how to deal with at all, much less in a healthy way. "
My volatile emotions had isolated me from a lot of people. I didn’t ever have a good relationship with my parents. We were always fighting, we were always arguing. There were times when I would call them from school in tears, hysterically crying, because I was just so upset and I didn’t know what to do about it. I wanted to hurt myself and I wanted to kill myself. It terrified them because they didn’t know what to do with me. I had been going to therapy pretty much my entire life, but it clearly wasn’t helping enough.
"I had been going to therapy pretty much my entire life, but it clearly wasn’t helping enough. "
We made the decision to go to Fulshear when I was in wilderness. I had a couple phone calls with my education consultant, my parents, and my therapist. I was under the impression that after wilderness I was going to go back to school, which was totally incorrect. I was definitely not ready to go back to school after three months in wilderness. My education consultant had given us a list of programs, and Fulshear was one of them. It came down to Fulshear and one other. My education consultant mentioned horses at Fulshear and I was like, “That’s the one I want to go to!”
"I was definitely not ready to go back to school after three months in wilderness"
I had to learn a lot about myself. That was the first step. I had to learn about my needs and my wants, my core issue and my core meaning. I learned that I had trauma. I didn’t know I had trauma, but I definitely did. And not only did I learn about myself, but I also learned about the process. There were girls who taught me that every single person on the planet has some form of trauma whether they know it or not. And I learned that it’s okay to do a lot of things, like that it’s okay to be emotional, and ask for support, and advocate for yourself, and communicate. I learned a lot of communication. I was always scared to reach out to people. I felt like I would be a burden, or be annoying them, or they would get really sick of me and be dismissive. But at Fulshear I didn’t feel that way. I knew, and I felt, that I was surrounded by people who cared about me and who wanted to support me. At first that was uncomfortable, but it paid off. It also taught me that you can’t grow inside your comfort zone, and the entire program and experience was way outside my comfort zone. It took me awhile to really embrace the change and do the hard work. But I did it, and I’m really proud of myself. It was a really positive place for the most part. There were things that happened here and there that I wasn’t happy about or I wasn’t comfortable with, but overall it was incredible.
In the past year since completing Fulshear’s program, I have learned an incredible amount about myself. Now that I’ve been out of treatment, I’ve been on my own. I have an apartment at school where I’m living and I’m taking care of myself. This has been the happiest year of my life so far. In my entire 22 years of living, I’ve never been this happy.
" In my entire 22 years of living, I’ve never been this happy. "
I’m doing so well for myself. I transferred to another college. My first semester was in the fall, and at the end of the first semester I was on the dean’s list and I was invited into multiple honors societies. That was a huge deal for me because I was never in any honors societies in high school and I was flunking out of classes at my old college. I was equipped with the right tools and the right study tactics to really focus and allow myself to do well in school. I have a job. I’ve worked a couple of jobs since I’ve been home, and the one that I’m working at now has been steady.
" I was equipped with the right tools and the right study tactics to really focus and allow myself to do well in school."
I was in a play earlier this semester. I’m an actor, so theater is a very big part of my life, but I hadn’t been able to do any theater since I graduated from high school. When I was in high school I wasn’t cast in a lot of big roles. When I was cast into this play back in December, I was given the female lead and the cast was about five people. I was so ecstatic. Doing that show has been an incredible experience that I would not have been able to experience if I hadn’t gone to Fulshear. I also believe that going to Fulshear and doing all the therapy has helped better me as an actor, too. It made me not afraid to step out of my comfort zone and made me more in touch with my emotions, so I knew how to express those emotions while acting.
All the hard work that I did has really made me learn who I am as a person. Before Fulshear I thought I was an introvert. I was socially awkward, I had social anxiety, I didn’t like talking to people, and I hated talking to people on the phone. Now I realize that I’m an extrovert and I love talking to people and I’m so outgoing. I can make phone calls and I still get anxiety, but it’s not the crippling anxiety that I was used to.
Going to Fulshear has overall made my life so much easier to live, and I’m smiling and everyone has noticed that I’m so much happier. My parents have even said to my friends, “Have you noticed how much happier Wendee is? They’re doing so much better, and they’re doing so well in school.” My best friend told me all about this and said “They’re really proud of you”, and I’m really proud of myself, too.
"and I’m really proud of myself, too. "
Probably the biggest thing that has come out of Fulshear is my self-confidence, and how much I love myself. Before I went to Fulshear I hated myself. I hated how I looked, I hated the image of myself, I hated everything that I did. After I went to Fulshear and I came home, I realized that I loved myself so much and I started to be a lot easier on myself. If I made a mistake, I’d say to myself, “That was a dumb mistake; try to prevent it next time, or let’s learn from this mistake”. And yeah, sometimes I do get angry or my emotions get out of check occasionally, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was. I’m able to express them in healthier ways than just smoking weed and repressing them all the time.
"After I went to Fulshear and I came home, I realized that I loved myself so much and I started to be a lot easier on myself. "
Fulshear has just been incredibly beneficial for me. I was really wary when I got there and really scared and anxious. I was miserable when I first got there. I was upset all the time and thinking “I don’t want to be here, I’m turning 21. I shouldn’t be in treatment, I should be out living my life.” And it’s because of treatment that I am able to do this stuff now. After I graduated I really began to live my life. Before, I didn’t really know who I was, which was part of why I hated myself. I didn’t know so much about myself because learning about myself was blocked by my mental illness and all of these strong emotions that I didn’t know what to do with. Starting in the middle of treatment, I learned something every day about myself, and I love myself that much more. And I’m not used to it. I’m not used to being happy. I’m still not. I’m definitely getting used to it, but sometimes it still feels weird to be happy. And it’s really weird, sometimes I find myself wishing I was sad! I’m having the time of my life and I’m thriving as an adult, and I think it’s just the residual comfort and familiarity of depression and anxiety. I don’t want to live like that, and I haven’t. That seed is always going to be there — I’m still mentally ill — but I know how to deal with it and I know how to live with it, and I use it to my advantage.
"it’s because of treatment that I am able to do this stuff now. After I graduated I really began to live my life."
I’m a much more responsible, happy person. My parents trust me, which is something I’m not used to. I’m getting along really well with my parents. My brother and I are closer than we’ve ever been. My sister is still reluctant to talk to me, she still holds a grudge, but things have been better as of a couple months go, which I’m really, really grateful for and excited about. And my dog! My dog has noticeably spent more time with me because I’ve stopped yelling all the time. She sleeps in my room with me sometimes when I’m home, she’s a lot more excited to see me, she’s a lot more willing to spend time around me, and everyone has noticed that. My happiness, and just my overall general stability, makes it that much easier to support my friends and people who need me. It’s really improved my life all around and in every single aspect of it. Fulshear has honest-to-God changed my life and it’s made me a much happier and better person.
"My happiness, and just my overall general stability, makes it that much easier to support my friends and people who need me"