What Our Alumni Say
Fulshear Success Stories
Because of Fulshear, I Now Know That I Am Strong...
Hello! My name is Reilly! I am a 22-year-old from Grants Pass, Oregon. I attended Fulshear as a member of the Redwood community for ten months back in 2017-2018 when I was 19 years old. Prior to starting my journey at Fulshear, I was in a wilderness program located in Colorado for three months.
Before I made the decision to go to Fulshear, my life was miserable. When I was in high school I ended up dating a boy that was very abusive towards me, and I also struggled a lot because of various health problems and surgeries. After graduating high school I decided to rent an apartment with three of my closest friends at the time. While in this apartment, my anxiety was in complete control of my life and I ended up having a variety of traumatic experiences. I hit my rock bottom after I was hospitalized for having pancreatitis and needing to get surgery. It was at this moment that I realized how toxic my relationships were and that I needed to make some drastic changes in my life in order to feel truly happy again; this is when I decided to go into a wilderness program, and then later on I decided to continue my therapeutic journey by attending Fulshear.
While attending my wilderness program, I learned how to properly take care of myself and obtained a large set of mindfulness and communicative based coping skills. When I arrived at Fulshear my therapist Amber, my transition specialist Betty-Ann, and the rest of the members of my treatment team and myself maintained and expanded upon the work that I did while I was in wilderness therapy. The apartment phase of the program was the most challenging and most helpful part of my therapeutic journey; I learned how to set firm and consistent boundaries with those around me, I did a lot of trauma work and EMDR on my past traumas, I cut out several toxic relationships from my life, I learned what it means to be in a healthy romantic relationship and how to communicate better with those around me, and I learned how to empower myself. In addition, I also attended school part-time and worked part-time at Hot Topic, all while attending group therapy and individual therapy sessions full-time. I graduated from Fulshear as influential on the day before my 20th birthday and then moved back to my hometown in Grants Pass, Oregon.
Since graduating from Fulshear, many positive things have happened in my life. I attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, and studied psychology for a year after graduating from Fulshear while I was living with my family and my boyfriend Mitch. I decided to apply to my dream college six months into my studies at SOU and was very excited when I was accepted! I have now been living in Eugene, Oregon with Mitch, who is now my fiancé, and our two cats Spider and Monkey for almost a year now. I have been attending the University of Oregon for the past year now and will be graduating in the spring with my bachelor's degree in psychology.
I have had my fair share of struggles ever since making these transitions in my life, but am still staying strong and keeping up with the work that I did while at Fulshear. Since graduating from the program, I have continued working with an outpatient therapist as well as a sleep specialist in order to take care of myself to the best of my ability. I have also stayed in touch with many of my close friends from Fulshear to this day and have plans to visit them all as soon as possible. I look forward to getting my degree in psychology soon and to be able to give back more to those that have faced similar struggles as I have. I hope to one day become a therapist for children, adolescents, young adults, as well as those who have struggled with addiction or have survived abusive relationships.
Making the decision to go to Fulshear was a difficult and scary one, but in the end, it was so worth it. Not only do I now have the skills to properly manage my anxiety and depression, but I also have a large loving, and supportive community that I can turn to whenever things are rough. Because of Fulshear, I now know that I am strong, capable, and worthy of love and connection. Thanks to Fulshear, I am now in control of my anxiety and my life.
You Are What Shapes the Treatment Experience
Before coming to Fulshear I had almost completely given up on myself. I became a shut-in, afraid that I would never be worthy or good enough for other people’s care and attention. I thought that my voice was small and powerless, and that other people’s existences were more important than my own. So I decided one day in early January that even if I didn’t believe that I could change myself, maybe someone could, and I took the leap to seek treatment at Fulshear. I expected my first week at the ranch to be spent alone and in my room. But as some of you may know, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and that’s not how this story went. I jumped into checking off boxes, pushing myself to do more than I had in months. Horse chores, programming, walking the dogs (horses), activities committee, therapy, and transition work – I did them all. I would talk constantly about perfectionism upon realizing the weight it held in my life and even ran a group about it with Michelle. Alas, though the ranch is the Fulshear dimension, after all, I experienced the bulk of my challenges at the apartments. In my time at the apartments, I switched TS after my former TS left Fulshear, graduated high school, met and said goodbye to my best friend, got my first job, and began advocating for myself. See, I’m the type of person who wants to be right but never knew how to get my needs met because I wasn’t confident in my ability to get my point across, and now I am an influencer of change because I am confident in my ability to communicate, I have empathy for both sides of the argument, and I can always find a logical way to explain why my side makes the most sense. I am still the same person as when I came to Fulshear, I just like myself more and I let people see me more. My parental unit, I thank you for paying for my stay here – I needed this. And for always trying your best to support me as best you could. I love you guys and I’m excited to go forward as your adult child instead of a toddler in the body of an adult. To all the clients and staff on my journey, I thank you for the moments I have had with you. You are what shapes the treatment experience.
From Loneliness and Denial to Capability and Worthiness
When I found out I was coming to Fulshear, I attempted to avoid it at all costs. I spoke to my DCS attorney and convinced her that treatment would only traumatize me more and that being controlled was not going to help me with my depression – so she shut it down. Until I turned eighteen four months later, Fulshear was out of the question. Then I found out I was not going to be able to go to college and had to go to treatment, and my active mind decided that this could be the best stepping stone to my career as an attorney. I could come here, analyze everything that happened, record any unethical things, and then sue as soon as I left. In my plan, I was going to be here for a maximum of six weeks, two of which would be on the ranch, so when I first arrived, I had to seriously consider if it was even worth it to unpack. My suitcase got taken away, so instead, I just folded my clothes so that they could be easily transferred.
Several days later, after I had met all the girls who I considered to be legitimately crazy, I finished my HSI book to find that it didn’t make any difference in the time frame, as the phases were about improvement. I thought this was the scariest thing I’d ever heard until Michelle told me in one of her groups that this is a nine to twelve-month program, and that trauma would likely be a part of my life for a long time. I covered up the fear of being out of control by devising an ingenious plan to discharge myself and live in the field across the street if things didn’t change in a month. Things changed, and instead of moving to the apartments when I had planned, my life was filled with horses, treatment team, drama, and heated protests.
When I got here my mind was so filled with my own beliefs and what I thought were my values, that I couldn’t understand how I could make friends, as we just seemed so different. In reality, by distancing myself from girls, who, it turns out, are a lot like me, I could continue to avoid the questions I had about life, values, and feelings I wanted to pretend I didn’t have. Somewhere along the way, I realized that how I imagined my relationship with my family before treatment included me being adopted, going off to college, getting married, and then never talking to them again. Being here was proof to me that I could never have a family, it was the representation of how powerless I had felt throughout my life and the fact that even in changing families I couldn’t run away from that.
Nine months later, I can say that my journey here was one of the hardest experiences of my life. There were many occasions of frustration, endless drama, things I viewed as injustice, and sometimes feeling unsafe. As much as I wanted to be, I wasn’t perfect. I made mistakes and sometimes self-sabotaged along the way. I found many opportunities to avoid taking responsibility in my interactions with others. In short, this experience wasn’t what I asked for or expected, but this is exactly why I learned from it.
- By spending time with girls who were different than me, I learned that my way wasn’t the only way and that what’s right for me isn’t exactly right to everyone else.
- I learned how to hold boundaries, figured out what some of my real values are, and learned how to improve while still being myself.
- Despite isolating, breaks, and my stubbornness, I’ve made friends along the way who inspire me and help me see the beauty in life.
- Though I didn’t want connections with some people here, every single person I met taught me something about myself and about others.
- Instead of leaving my family forever, I actually have a healthier relationship with them and it’s not going to go away just because I’m an adult.
- What I would’ve taken with me if I had stayed for six weeks was control, loneliness, denial, and avoidance, but what I’m taking with me now are priceless memories that prove that I am capable, loveable, and worthy and that I have incredible strength to come out of trials. This really has been an adventure of a thousand moments.
I am grateful for all that I’ve learned here, for my wonderful therapist and transition specialist, for the friends I’ve made on this journey, and most importantly for my parents, who cared enough to send me here, wisely ignored my requests to leave, and continued to support me through the ups and downs.
We Are Truly Happy and Relieved Parents
We believe that the true measure of the effectiveness of a treatment program is not immediately known the first few weeks after the client completes the program. It seems much more important to us that the program has a lasting positive effect 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years after completion. The best case is that the learnings and behavioral changes from the treatment program last a lifetime. As a parent, I will be both relieved and happy if my daughter is able to sustain positive behavior and attitude for the rest of her life using the learnings from her time at Fulshear Treatment to Transition.
Our daughter graduated from the program at Fulshear two years ago. At the time, we remember being greatly concerned about her re-entry into the real world. Would she migrate back to the environment that led to her problems and challenges? What could we do to help her through the transition from life in a treatment program to life in the real world? Prior to treatment, she had talked about how hard life was. Would she feel the same after treatment? We had many concerns.
As it turned out, all of our concerns we unfounded. Our daughter’s reentry went smoothly, beyond our wildest expectations. Her attitude and behavior have been impeccable. She now has a professional corporate job, an amazing husband, and a beautiful one-year-old daughter. She is a wonderful mom, taking excellent care of her daughter. Her willingness and ability to handle increasing responsibilities has been very surprising. She says that she still has anxiety, but has learned how to manage it. She frequently refers to things she learned at Fulshear. Her relationship with us is excellent, something that didn’t seem possible prior to her time at Fulshear Treatment. It is truly amazing how far she has come.
In summary, our daughter’s treatment at Fulshear has had an excellent long-term effect on her life. We are truly happy and relieved parents. We have no concerns about her future. Thank you, Fulshear Treatment to Transition for making the lives of our entire family better.
They Actually Care
Last week I had the opportunity to come back to the ranch and share my life story. I was surprised by how emotionally connected I was to my experiences. This was not my first time sharing my story but it was the first time I shared it with hope and love. Although I was nervous I was not afraid. So much of my life has been lived out of fear. I was in a state of constant anxiety that I was not going to live up to the expectations that I projected others had of me. I was afraid if I made a mistake that I was going to fail for the rest of eternity. As all of you know I have been in treatment for four years. For half of my treatment career, I was terrified if I disobeyed staff I would be put on a protocol. If I disagreed with my treatment team then something was wrong with me. I was not an independent thinker. I was going to agree with what everyone said because it was safe. Even though it was safe, it was not secure. Last weekend I was listening to a church leader speak at a conference about how motivating people with fear is superficially effective but deeply detrimental. This man his name is Dieter Uchtdorf, is not a therapist, he is a pilot, so what does he know about the adult attachment model? Quite a lot actually, he expressed that “People who are fearful may say and do the right things…” He said, “Fear rarely has the power to change our hearts, and it will never transform us into people who love…” I repeat, “Fear rarely has the power to change our hearts.” I can not express the deep gratitude I have towards everyone from the graveyard staff, to Nikki Preece the influential badass who turned this place from a facility into a home. Every single person who works here even if have a tendency to dislike you sometimes, I am so thankful for. I am thankful that you choose to open your hearts to us, that you show up every single day and give your all so that maybe just maybe we can have a successful life. I have been to many programs but there is something special about the staff here. I can genuinely say I know you care, even when we don’t. You open your arms for us when we want to push you away. You do so even when we don’t appreciate you. And this is what makes you all so so special. I don’t care if you work at the ranch, transition, redwood, or cherry blossom. You are here, you are loved, and you are appreciated. Thank you. One more thing the Uchtdorf said last weekend was, They want to change our hearts…they want this for us because they love us and because this is the way to happiness. Well, he did not say they, he said He because he was talking about God…but I will say they because for me this quote 100% accurately described my experience at Fulshear. I will always be grateful for my other programs, the saved my life- but this one, this one changed my life. I have worked so hard, but I have not worked hard alone. Helaine, I think it is safe to say I would not be sitting here today without you. Your kindness and compassion is inspiring and if you had not had the empathy to let me get on the phone with (past client) and talk to her, I am not sure where my life would be. You are the ultimate Healthy Strong and Influential woman and I love you so so much. Nicole, I can not express how much I am going to miss you. You have been the perfect amount of fun, mean and supportive I needed. I know I like to beat you up when I feel anxious or when I feel connected to you but I really do love you and I think you are awesome. Brooke, you have taught me more than any teacher in a classroom has or could ever have. Even though at first I did not think I needed you, I really have. You were the one who broke me out of my shell. You were the one who helped me shift into my core meaning. You were the one who taught me who I was. Even though my life skills were not learning how to do laundry, and learning how to create a schedule the life skills you taught me are so personal and so deep that I think I needed you more than any of us could have ever thought possible….
Believe it or not, the speech continued to thank even more people who influenced my life there. This is not an easy program you have to work hard every day even when you want to give up. There were times where I wanted to leave, there were times where I was pushed beyond what I thought I was capable of. Fulshear has confidence in every single young lady who drives through those gates at the ranch that they can do well in this program. Fulshear NEVER gave up on me. Fulshear is a safe and secure place. And I thank them every day for all they do. Do yourself, your family, or your daughter a favor choose Fulshear. They know what they are doing and beyond that, they ACTUALLY CARE.
Our Family Is Forever Changed From Our Experience at Fulshear
Our family is forever changed from our experience at Fulshear. Our journey began on a hot, sunny day, 16 months ago, when we dropped Jenny off at the ranch. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done; however, what I didn’t realize at the time was that it would be the best thing for Jenny and our family. For the first time in Jenny’s life, I was unable to fix the problem. Jenny and I had come to a point where our relationship was more strained than ever. I was in such a dark place; the constant worry and fear had taken its toll, leaving me feeling helpless, hopeless, and totally alone.
Jenny and I contacted Fulshear for the first time in early July 2014. Thinking back, I almost didn’t call! The thought now makes me want to laugh, but also sends shivers up my spine. Houston just seemed too close to Austin; was this enough distance for Jenny? After about a week of constant back-and-forth in my head, I picked up the phone and called. Helaine was the first person I talked to. She was amazing; we immediately hit it off and talked for almost two hours. For the first time in a long time, I felt like someone really understood our family and what we were going through. I felt a tiny bit of hope. I will never forget you or the kindness you showed me that day.
In late July, Jenny and I went to Fulshear for a visit to decide if this was something Jenny felt she could do. Jenny was apprehensive, as was I. We turned into the driveway and Jenny said, “Wow, this place is beautiful, Mom. I could see myself living here.” We walked in and met Helaine, who was so kind and welcoming. Jenny decided she wanted to meet the girls and have lunch with them. As I watched, I couldn’t believe how confident she seemed. It was so surreal, watching this unfold before me.
Then, we met Kevin.
I was sitting at the end of the table watching Kevin make this beautiful connection with Jenny. It was amazing to experience and something I will never forget. It was as if the heavens opened up and I could see a light. A possibility … Thank you, Kevin, for believing in Jenny and believing in our family, and for the countless hours you have worked with her, Art, and me. You will never know the depth of gratitude I have for you and for everything you have done these last 16 months for our family. We are so grateful for your constant kindness, patience, and loving support.
Art and I dropped Jenny off August 11th. This was the first time in Jenny’s life that she’d been away from us; I was overcome with sadness, but also an alarming sense of relief. I had a peace wash over me that I hardly recognized.
Family therapy weekend was one of the hardest, most enlightening experiences. The tools I learned from these programs really changed the way I live, interact, and absorb information. Through the one-on-ones with Kevin, we began to find each other again and build on making our relationship’s stronger. It was so great to learn from the other parents and their daughters. I learned that I had rescued Jenny for most of her life, and by doing this, I was communicating to her that she was incapable; something that I never intended to do. Through all of this, I learned that I am a good Mom, something I had forgotten, and I found my faith again, something I had lost. I learned from this experience how much stronger Jenny was than I gave her credit for. Jenny also learned how strong she was, which was invaluable.
The equine therapy was amazing. Learning how to read body language and regulate her emotions through a horse was incredible. Our family therapy phone sessions with Kevin was another positive element of this experience. Kevin, you made it easy to be honest with each other about our feelings, while also working together to become close again. You created a level of trust between Jenny and me, allowing us to talk about things again especially things that were so painful and that she had carried around for such a long time. It feels so good to not have secrets anymore, so again, thank you, Kevin.
Jenny also went to Ecuador with Nikki; what a fantastic learning experience! From the time they left, Nikki was my rock. She was consistently supportive, always reassuring me that everything would be okay. It was as if I had known Nikki my whole life. Your personality is both daring and bubbly. It seems like there isn’t anything you can’t take on. Thank you, Nikki, for this wonderful experience you shared with Jenny and our family.
Once she left the ranch and moved to the apartments, she was so ready to find a job, go back to school, and volunteer. She was able to move from a very structured life at the ranch to a less structured environment, all whilst living independently with the other Fulshear women.
Jenny: Know that you have all the tools, skills, and confidence to make this transition back to Austin. You can do this; you are so strong! Jenny, I am so incredibly proud of you and all that you have accomplished. The ups and downs, you persevered through it all and have come out on the other side strong and confident. I love you with all my heart!
Monique: Thank you for all of the tireless hours you and Jenny have worked to develop her life skills. You have truly become a second Mom to her and I am so grateful for your’s and Jenny’s relationship! All the budgeting, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and learning are skills you’ve instilled in our Jenny, and I’m so grateful. Thank you also for being my friend. You have always been there for me when I needed you but also being tough on me when I needed that too. I love you always!
Shawn: From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of your help. Your wisdom, advice, and direction have put Jenny on a positive path, giving her the tools and knowledge to become the best person she can be. I appreciate you more than you know.
Amanda: Thank you for everything you did to help Jenny find her way, and for helping me to find my way too. Your love and concern whenever it seemed things were falling apart gave me the strength to go on and the courage to face another day because I knew you were always there for Jenny in good times and bad. You’re amazing!
Allyson: Thank you for talking me off the ledge when I was going to leave Austin at 8:30 at night to drive to Houston when Jenny was in the ER. Your calmness and caring helped me to stand down and let you and Nikki take care of things if the need arose.
Kevin, Monique, Nikki, Helaine, Allyson, Amanda, and the entire staff at Fulshear, you will always be like family to us. To go through this experience, to be able to have the level of trust to go to the hard places and know that we are still loved and accepted, never ever feeling like we were being judged. I love and adore all of you and please know you have been a blessing to us and we are forever grateful for your guidance, love and support. I will miss you all terribly! God Bless you!!
A Father's Reflections on the Graduation of His Daughter
I grew up in Houston, from the time I was five till I left for college 40 years ago. Sometimes I go to the old house on visits, walk around it, remembering the significant milestones, contemplating how I’ve changed since boyhood…and how I may be the same. Stalking through the ghost town of a former life, so still and quiet, but alive with memories.
I believe today is my 7th time to the Ranch here at Fulshear: first, that memorable, emotional dropping off at our 1st born Jenny. Then 5 very special family visits. And now, graduation.
I think I may have an idea of what my 8th and later visits could be like.
Since I live just under 3 hours away and come this way once a year or so, no doubt I’ll want to drive in the country to bypass the big city headed to the coast. Several years from now I’ll pull up to this big country home with the barn and cottages and walk quietly through the grounds while all sorts of memories light up my mind from within like a Christmas tree.
Poignant moments in the blue cottage where members of a family I’d never seen before or since lay out deep painful emotions, then tearfully hug one another. Goofy, fun games played by the pool amid laughter, though pregnant with meaning and significance for the players. The office upstairs where my own family members bared our souls and learned to be better for one another. Personal discoveries and family milestones.
No doubt I’ll make my way to the barn, remembering an earlier visit with moist eyes when the nesting birds sang so brilliantly that I’ll never forget. When I cast away a stone in a powerful symbol of forgiveness. Years from now I’ll come for that 8th time, my even-older frame creaking as I walk thoughtfully about, remembering all this and more: the journey my wife and I, and especially Jenny had here.
That’s what it was, more than a school or treatment center: for us, it was a journey.
Of paramount significance to this journey were the people. The heartache, pain, and triumph of other families, yes, but most of all the skilled, unselfish, loving yet firm staff that have been so very important to us this last year and a half. Their impact on our lives, in truth, will endure forever. And we are forever thankful.
So in spite of the regular visits being a minor inconvenience, and despite the fact that we might have bought a vacation cabin with what it cost, our journey to Fulshear has been a gift to my family—all of us, not just Jenny.
Finally, I want to give honor to my daughter, Jenny. The happiest day of my life was the day of her birth. Which doesn’t mean I love her more than her sister; she simply came first. Because for all my life before that day, the prospect of fatherhood was about obligations, responsibilities, and earthly concerns. With her birth, all that anxiousness was overwhelmed by a brilliant love, as a symphony smothers a whisper. Love.
The courage Jenny showed as she struggled with her own insecurities, behavior patterns, and stubbornness I marvel at and admire. And as a legal adult, she stayed, when she could have left any day. (You know that, right Jenny?)
So, I salute you Jenny on the occasion of your graduation from Fulshear and doing so on your own—a major accomplishment that you should forever be proud of.
A Father's Experience With Fulshear
I am the parent of a girl who completed the Fulshear program and graduated last month (May 2015). We sent our daughter to Fulshear because we felt that the program would help her make the difficult transition to adulthood. Our daughter had expressed that “life is hard” and we wanted to help her to get into a position where she could have more positive life experiences. It currently appears that the decision to send our daughter to Fulshear is one of the best decisions that we have made in our lives. Her attitude towards life and the people in her life has changed dramatically. She no longer lives with constant anger and anxiety. She has distanced herself from some of the negative influences in her life and she has learned how to deal with her negative emotions. She appears ready to lead a happy, productive life. Only time will tell if she will totally succeed in life, but I am confident that Fulshear has done everything possible to help our daughter have a great chance for success.
When we first visited the Fulshear Ranch facility, we were very impressed with the quality of the staff members that we met. They seemed to understand my daughter and her challenges. They also did an outstanding job of relating to her on this visit, especially the Clinical Director. He was the first therapist that seemed to understand her. Neither my daughter nor I, placed a high value on therapy prior to Fulshear. Now, this has changed for me. Both my daughter’s individual therapy and the family therapy we participated in with Fulshear were excellent and invaluable. This therapy has made a significant impact on all of our lives and we are thankful for our daughter’s therapist.
Fulshear hosts a family program every three months at The Ranch in Needville. During these events, parents get the chance to have extensive interaction with the staff. We attended three of these programs and found all of the staff members to be caring and professional. In addition, they are genuinely nice people. They have a challenging, difficult job to do helping young ladies, some of which really don’t want their help, but they meet the challenge and appear to help them all. The individual who works with the girls on recovery from addictions seems especially effective. He does numerous presentations at the family programs and I have great confidence in him. The family programs will also give you the chance to interact with other parents. This will help you with the perspective that you are not the only parents dealing with challenges.
In summary, I believe that sending our daughter to Fulshear Treatment to Transition was the right thing to do. Unlike many of the other clients at Fulshear, our daughter had not attended other residential treatment programs. We feel that we are fortunate to have picked a program that has a positive, lasting impact on her life.
I Can Honestly Tell You That the Staff at Fulshear Changed My Life
To whom this may concern,
When I think back to my eleven months at Fulshear, it is definitely a bittersweet feeling. It was a long journey to get to where I am today. I have A LOT of people to thank for that also.
I was not the happiest of people coming into Fulshear. I felt as though my parents had betrayed me, and I was mad and angry at the world. I was a confused individual who tried to grow up too fast; I could handle everything on my own. You couldn’t tell me anything because I believed I already knew it. For so long I would fake my feelings and how I felt, I would never let anyone in close enough to help me. My answer to everything was that I was fine, and that was the end of the conversation.
After getting to know the girls, the little things began to get easier and I didn’t feel so alone. I was also fortunate enough to meet my best friend here, which was a breath of fresh air because I had someone I could lean on and trust.
I can honestly tell you that the staff at Fulshear, three or four, in particular, changed my life. And I don’t think that I can fully show my appreciation to them, for all they have done. They were my family away from home, they took me under their wing and loved me as if I was their own. They didn’t judge me for who I was, or what I did, or the questions I asked, they accepted me for me. For me, that hadn’t been the case for a long time.
Did I have difficult days here? Absolutely. There were days where all I wanted to do was give up and walk away. However, I believe that wherever you go, you’re going to run into problems and not see eye to eye with everyone all the time. I think it is how you pull yourself out of it that ultimately matters in the end. So to bring this all together, Fulshear changed and saved my life. Would I do it again? No, but I also wouldn’t change this experience for the world.
There Is Hope
On December 27, 2010, I made one of the toughest decisions of my life. I cried hugging my parents goodbye as I boarded a plane by myself for the first time in my life. I was headed to a year-long program to turn my life around. I wanted to give up on life. With a lot of support, love, and hard work I can’t even begin to explain to anyone how much this all means to me. The rawness and realness that comes from living a life from the heart are immeasurable. There are no words to express my feelings and gratitude.
And now, in one week, I will be graduating from a 5-month legacy program that has challenged me to great extents. I want to thank everyone who has been there for me. I am finally finding the real me, and the real-life I have spent years looking for. For anyone going through a hard time, you are not alone. There is hope. I know because I found it when and where I least expected to find it, and I believe you will find it too. Let go of fear and surprise yourself. Knowing your limits is not what will get you to where you want to go, dare to try something new and never give up.
I Was Once in Your Shoes
Dear new client,
Let me congratulate you on making this huge decision in your life. I know it’s not easy to admit you need help. Being the new girl on The Ranch can be scary, believe me, I was once in your shoes. Not all of the girls will be as welcoming as others, but the ones that are welcoming may end up becoming some of the best friends you will ever have.
Before coming to Fulshear, I very rarely had girlfriends and if I did, I had maybe one or two that I was truly close with. Luckily, coming to Fulshear has completely opened my eyes to the joys of having girlfriends.
Let me tell you a bit about myself. I originally came to Fulshear Treatment to Transition for my depression, anxiety, ADHD, sexual trauma/abuse, PTSD, physical, mental, and verbal abuse, self-body issues, and the self-harming I was doing. During my stay at Fulshear, I got diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, thankfully it’s not as scary as it sounds haha.
Since then, I have become more confident in my own skin than I have ever been! Don’t get me wrong, I still have my days where I feel down in the dumps, but believe me, it’s natural. I know you probably have a lot of thoughts in your head right now about this place. I know it might be scary but it’s not nearly as bad as you think. Transitioning from The Ranch to the apartments to graduation can be a terrifying and tedious process but Tammy, the Transition Coordinator, and Shawn, the Life Skills Coach, as well as your therapist, will attempt to make it as smooth as possible.
Before coming to Fulshear, I had to have my dad’s approval for every little thing I did and had to have him help me with decisions, and I was always calling him for money. Now, I am apartment hunting on my own and only calling my dad during it when I need some expert advice. I also only call my dad for money when I need it, like when I need money to register for my GED or a greater stipend (which will be explained to you at a later date). I’m proud you have decided to change your life for the better! I hope you stick through it and graduate because it is an amazing feeling to accomplish something this difficult!
I Finally Started Taking Responsibility for Myself
On February 24th, 2012, after many months at an adolescent treatment facility in Provo, Utah, I was finally being discharged. That same day I boarded a plane for Texas. After a long and seemingly successful therapeutic experience, I had voluntarily enrolled in Fulshear Ranch Academy to finish treatment and prepare for independence and adulthood.
The following September, after about seven months at the ranch, I went on a home visit. Being back home with my family in the familiar setting of my “real life,” it became clear to me that despite years of treatment, I had not really changed. Now I was at Fulshear at risk, once again, of not changing. I was working the program, I realized, for all the wrong reasons.
That home visit was a definite eye-opener. So when I got back, I finally had the motivation to dig in and work the program for myself. Things moved quickly for me after that. I started participating in the program more actively and attending groups regularly; so after only a couple of weeks back, I was able to transition to the apartments. Soon after that, I was hired for two part-time jobs. There were still daily struggles-like when my first therapist left the program-and life certainly wasn’t perfect. But I made a lot of progress in Phase 6 and earned a tentative graduation date of February 1st, 2013.
Not long after this initial turnaround, though, I started slipping. I distanced myself from staff and from the program in general; I acted as if I didn’t care. I skipped groups, I missed curfews, I took rides in cars not owned by Fulshear. I disengaged from the program, and as a result, hurt the people that I cared about the most. I was pulling away from the same people who had given me my life back. So the first week in January, after failing a drug test, breaking countless rules, and showing a lack of respect toward people who cared deeply about me, I was asked to leave the program.
I wanted to emphasize to you all, that this wasn’t how I wanted to “graduate.” I messed up; staffers told me time and time again that there were going to be consequences. But I did not listen. For most of you, Fulshear represents the last chance; how many of you are really taking that fact seriously? I definitely didn’t, and it was almost disastrous. I’m so very lucky that I was able to pick myself up and start over.
I used to complain about the rules and all the things I had to do at Fulshear. But since leaving, I’ve realized that the demands of Fulshear are nothing compared to the demands of real life. At Fulshear, things are handed to us on a silver platter. The real challenge, I’ve discovered, is leaving and learning to use all the tools and skills that Fulshear’s therapists and staffers do their best to help us learn.
What I did not realize when I was slacking off and disengaging was that my biggest worry shouldn’t have been getting kicked out. My real worry should have been having no clue what to do once I was in the real world. Just as I was, many of you may be a little conceited, thinking that you can do it on your own without help or guidance. But do you really know what that entails? Can you get a job, and keep it? Can you schedule all of your own therapy, and psychiatry appointments, and somehow manage to arrive at them on time? Do you know what to do when one of your prescriptions run out? Do you know how to apply to college without help and how to order your high school transcripts? Do you know how to apply for SSI, and what the process is? Do you know how to live on a budget? And I’m not just talking about grocery shopping! Do you know where you are planning to live after Fulshear?
All of these questions should put perspective that the challenges of Fulshear are nothing compared to what you will be faced with a few short months from now. But, every single member of the treatment team and staff are here to guide you in the right direction so you don’t fall on your face after you leave. The help is being offered, now it’s your choice whether or not you’re going to accept it and grow from it.
“Persevere” is a word that has come to mean a lot to me since leaving Fulshear. It means I will persist in anything I undertake. It means that I will maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement. After being asked to leave Fulshear, I went home feeling worthless and hopeless, knowing that if only I had done better I would still be in Texas surrounded by people who loved and supported me. But after thinking about my situation for a while, my attitude began to shift. I reread goodbye letters from staff and friends at Fulshear. These people had become family to me. I realized I had to make something of myself. Otherwise the eleven months I spent at Fulshear was for nothing; the relationships I had built with staff, the growth I had experienced, and the progress I had made would all be a waste.
So I started moving. I found a local therapist that specialized in one of my core issues and I started going to therapy three times a week. I started going to church and met an amazing family with six kids. I woke up every morning to go to their house and fell in love with these kids. Living with mental illness isn’t easy, some days are harder than others, but these kids looked at me like I was their hero. I applied to Azusa Pacific University and I will be going part-time in the fall. I plan to major in psychology so that I can eventually become a therapist and hopefully become half as good as Diane someday.
Nonetheless, every day of the week I’m doing something. Whether it is volunteering, studying, attending therapy, or hanging out with friends from church, staying busy gives my life meaning and purpose. My hopes and dreams are what give me the tools to get out of my lows. I’ve learned I can be whoever I want to be and nothing as insignificant as a diagnosis or a medication can stop me from achieving my goals.
It wasn’t until after leaving Fulshear that I finally started taking responsibility for myself. But I know that without my time at Fulshear, I wouldn’t have any of this. Though my experience involved some bumps and wrong turns to the point of being kicked out, I have a very different outlook on life than I did the day I entered Fulshear. I could go on and on about how thankful I am. But I also know that this is just what they do at Fulshear-this is their job. And if you let them help you, you could be in your best place too.
My Experience With Fulshear
“My journey has been a long and hard one, and for the first time in my life, I’m glad that it’s far from over!
When I was pretty young I was sexually abused by a family member and it changed me. It changed how I viewed the world, how I trusted people, how I related to myself and to others. Most of all, my thinking stayed in a 6-year-old mind!
I grew up scared and confused holding on to this terrible secret, wrecking just about everything in my way. Every relationship I had ended. I put my family thru the wringer. Somehow I managed to stay alive and I had a wonderful team of people who refused to give up on me. After a long and careful selection, I was informed that Fulshear Treatment to Transition is everyone’s last hope for me to turn into the amazing, strong, and capable woman they know I can be.
To say that I wasn’t excited about the decision and went reluctantly would be an understatement. When I arrived at FTT all I did was fight, I fought the mentors, the therapists, and most of all I fought myself. I was terrified to change, terrified to let go of my past, to give up my identity of being a victim and moving on. But the amazing and dedicated staff at Fulshear wouldn’t allow fear to rule my life anymore. They held my hand every step of the way and started teaching.
They taught me how to let go of the fear, how to take accountability for my weaknesses and turn them into strengths. How to stop living as a victim and become a survivor! How to change my thinking patterns to that of an adult and not the thinking and behaviors of a child.
It wasn’t easy. Many times I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Build my walls back up and retreat back onto my own little private island, but they wouldn’t let me! My amazing therapist and dedicated staff pushed me to achieve my goals. Goals that I had set up for myself that I knew I can reach and reach them I did!
I graduated from Fulshear 2 weeks ago with flying colors! I learned how to build and keep healthy relationships, how to live independently, and be okay. To manage my emotions and to be kind and compassionate to others. To stop living as a victim and to forgive and let go of the past! Moving back home and experiencing similar experiences that I have had prior to Fulshear and watching myself deal with them completely differently and completely age-appropriate this time has shown me how much I’ve grown and it gives me the strength to keep on growing!
There are no words to thank the amazing and dedicated staff at Fulshear none of this would have happened without all your help! From the bottom of my heart thank you!”
Blossoming and Blooming
My heart is heavy, my heart is strong
I know exactly where I belong
At this treatment center which will help me
It will give me new lenses that will help me see
My therapist will walk by my side
There will be many tears that will be cried
My peers will guide me and hold my hand
The staff will pick me up and help me stand
Not a day goes by that I question my choice
To come to treatment and use my voice
To pick up the pieces and ask for what I need
To grow tall I must plant the seed
Coming to treatment was pretty hard
I was dealt a painful deck of cards
I wanted to quit day after day
But everyone’s hope helped me stay
So I keep on fighting this journey ahead
I cooperate each day and take my meds
I was once so low, so stuck on the ground
Through therapy though I have found
If I ask for what I really crave
I can grow tall and be quite brave
A healthy, strong, influential girl
Set out on a journey to survive this world
She struggled at times and fell on her face
But then she realized recovery isn’t a race
She stayed at Fulshear and learned to keep fighting
She kept a journal and never stopped writing
She learned to love what she had
She learned its okay to feel a little sad
No need to scream to get people to care
She thought her emotions were too much to bear
But deep down inside she knows she will win this fight
All she had to do was turn on her light
The light to her soul, the light to her heart
She had a rough journey from the start
But that didn’t stop her; she kept on believing
This girl is a miracle, she keeps on achieving
Thanks to the staff and all of her peers
She learned to move past all the hard years
Thanks to Fulshear she blossomed and bloomed
Even though she thought she was doomed
This girl saved her life; she won the war
She faced her demons and lived by her core
Now she is thriving and living each day
For her to be happy is all I will pray
She lived her core meaning and did HSI
She no longer wished that she would die
Flying high and soaring fast
This girl has won and conquered her past
By Fulshear alumna Kadeelyn Nicole Konstantino
One Profoundly Impactful Year!
Last year at this time our family was distraught with the idea of sending our oldest daughter to a treatment center. Not only was this completely unfamiliar territory for us, but also, in addition, we had read incredibly horrible reviews concerning the treatment center, Fulshear Ranch Academy. I quickly arranged a meeting with the director of Fulshear, in an effort to understand why such reviews were posted on the internet. The explanations provided made perfect sense to me and upon leaving the facility, I knew this was the place for my daughter to be.
She arrived in August 2013 and she graduated in August 2014. What we thought would feel like ten years, ended up as one very quick year filled with more power than our daughter's 22 years of living all piled together. She transformed herself from the inside out. She was given tools and taught how to use them when the going gets rough. She worked together with the Fulshear team to dig deep and to uncover the culprit behind her suffering. All emotions were felt strongly and dealt with in a rational manner in an effort to teach our daughter to manage potential tough times ahead. Friendships were made, bonds were formed. Fulshear has a knack for creating a safe-haven, a place where the young women know that what they share about themselves is okay. It’s all okay. The therapists work as one big support team all based on truth and trustworthiness.
In August 2013, our daughter attempted suicide. She asked us to send her to a treatment center. We found Fulshear for one year. One profoundly impactful year! One that changed not only her life but our entire families as well. September 2014, our daughter is now living in a country very far away from home. She is thriving, attending university, making a whole slew of new friends, cooking, singing, and so much more. Most importantly though, she is happy. Isn’t that what we all want for our children? If you are contemplating whether or not you should send your daughter to Fulshear, ask yourself this question, what’s more important at this very moment in time than your child’s sense of inner peace and contentment? If your answer is “nothing” then it’s time to take the next step and begin working on that goal. Fulshear Ranch Academy is the place to begin.