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My Personal Recovery Story

In recent times I was close to the edge of breaking down really bad after intense years, then hellish months late last year with too many deaths, near deaths and tragedies – then six weeks a couple of months ago of facing nearly losing my mother twice. Little did my friends know that within weeks I would be in a private psych hospital / healing centre and community and leading up to that I would be fighting my own deep struggles to hang in until I could get the treatment and healing I needed.

Just over three weeks ago, I went into South Pacific Private hospital on Sydney’s Northern Beaches for their 21 day holistic healing journey – along with about 35 others finding healing and new life in their brokenness from depression and anxiety, codependency, alcoholism and other chemical addictions, gambling, eating disorders, relationship traumas, and other symptoms of ‘ woundedness’.

The team don’t just treat these symptoms, but work collaboratively with us clients (as both individuals and a community) and the professionals to help heal some of the deep wounds and the ways we have learned to deal with them and to survive that ultimately haven’t worked.

As well as getting my own healing and learning and relearning new ways to do emotions, thinking and action, I was privileged to hear the stories and struggles of people’s lives. Often things they had never or rarely talked about to anyone. A place to develop deep empathy, compassion and understanding. I treasure the learning and insights I gained about humans and humanity, and life when the sharing is raw and authentic.

I’m out now, and for the next few months go back two days a week, as well as participate in other healing experiences and groups as I make the transition back to the outside world.

It was refreshing to be away from all outside stimuli, society, busyness, activities, triggers and electronics. Letting the rest of the world pass on by while we had a time to just focus on ourselves and have thoughts and feelings come up to deal with and heal without having anything (even coffee or sugar or chocolate or high carb foods) to distract from them or numb them.

While not always easy, and sometimes very challenging (most seemed to have a time or more when the strong impulse was to bail), it was a very meaningful, beautiful and enriching time. I feel much more alive than I’ve been for a long long time. So much happened and so few words here to describe the experience.

I jokingly call it the South Pacific Healing Resort and Emotional Roller coaster Theme Park!

One of the aspects I appreciate a lot about SPP is that it’s not a bunch of individuals getting therapy. The program and experience intentionally is designed around creating a safe, healing community which in itself is a big part of the healing that takes place. In most ways it hardly feels like a hospital. Mental illness and struggling with addictions are very lonely and the loneliness and isolating and withdrawing make things worse. Loving, support community done in healthy ways helps to break that cycle helps to carry us and give us strength to go into the brighter future that we deserve. “I can’t. We can.” Was a slogan I heard there that resonates with me.

It wasn’t just about having time out to refresh and renew and then going on with life just like before, as beneficial as those were, because aspects of how we have done life and thinking and feeling and relating are what brought us to this place. For me, decades of them. As with people with addictions, my recovery is a lifelong journey. Relapsing and going back to the old ways are no fun. As I well know.

My life is enriched. My compassion and empathy have increased. My understanding of self, others and life has grown even more. I have been in a holistic place and experience that saved my life 19 years ago and again now.

The pain of living was intense and the lights in my mind and future had just about gone out. But now the sun is shining again in my heart, soul, mind and future. It doesn’t mean all the storms have passed. Both life and the weather have them! It doesn’t mean I’m all better. But I’m moving from surviving to thriving, and rebuilding.

I am blessed and have deep gratitude – including to you my family, friends and encouragers.

Graeme F