Jack (19) Had an Addiction Problem
After my parents and I decided I would be going to Yes We Can Youth Clinics, I became very nervous. I began to put it into perspective: I was sure there would be others much worse off than I was. I thought I wouldn’t fit in, because I didn’t feel like I had experienced that much. Once I was in the white van on the way to the Clinic, I became even more nervous. What if I ended up in an overactive group filled with people with really difficult problems? After I had arrived, I spoke with a counsellor and two coaches, which was reassuring. They explained a lot and I felt a lot better. Once inside the clinic, I was relieved to find out everyone was very welcoming. I immediately hit it off with everyone and was accepted for who I was. Right from the start, I felt safe enough to share everything and I recognised parts of the stories that others told. It felt good to know others had the same issues as I did. I discovered that I really was an addict and learned about the consequences that had had. I realised how much I had bottled up and hidden.
I found out that I did in fact experience things that were difficult and that I had never been able to process. I was able to deal with all of them during my time at YWCYC. It now feels as if a weight dropped from my shoulders.
I have also learned that honesty is the best way to go, regardless of the situation and how important it is to speak out and share with others. I really know what addiction is and how it changed my life. I also learned a lot from others and have a clear idea about how to continue my life.
I’m very happy I took this chance – it helped me realise a lot of things and it really helped me.
Robin (18) Drank Extreme Amounts of Soda and Harmed Herself
My life was one big mess before I joined Yes We Can Youth Clinics. I drank too much – at least 25 drinks a night. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I hurt myself too: I started cutting, but when that didn’t cause enough pain I started burning myself. I would put a 200-degree curling iron on my arm just to avoid feeling any emotions.
It did not stop at drinking and self-harm, either. I would binge-eat, I would sit in front of the TV or play a game on my cell phone for hours and I would drink three large bottles of soda every weekday – as much as 8 litres on weekends. I also used caring for others as a way to avoid thinking about myself and my emotions. I also became obsessive in school or during sports. I became so unhappy, I lost the will to live. Life was a prison and there was only one way to get out: death. I tried it many times – my goodbyes were ready and I had even planned my own cremation already. How messed up is that? I didn’t love myself, I hated myself. Most of all though, I just didn’t know what to do anymore.
My second cousin introduced me to Yes We Can Youth Clinics. YWCYC showed me the positive side of life, taught me how to stand straight again. I learned how to deal with myself. I now know who I am and I am proud of myself again. I even love myself a little again! I used to be an expert in telling others what they did wrong and how to solve their problems, but I now know I make a lot of mistakes as well, that it’s okay to admit that, and how to fix them. I learned everyone has a right to exist and that you have to let go of your prejudices.
My goodbye at Yes We Can Youth Clinics was emotional, heart-breaking, but most of all exactly the way it was supposed to be: perfectly imperfect! The coaches have become my friends. They supported me unconditionally and I am forever grateful. Each and every one is in my heart.
Now that I’m back home and I have to do things myself (but not alone!), I have to say I’m doing well. I attend meetings three times a week, attend the after-care sessions and talk to other fellows on the phone every day. After all, the fellows understand you when your surroundings don’t – because they’re not addicted. As long as we support one another, it is possible to live happily without any obsessions. If you read this and you’re still not sure – just do it, you have nothing left to lose and it can only get better.
Kevin (15) Is Ready to Start Over!
I remember what I was like before I went to Yes We Can Youth Clinics. I got angry very quickly, got into fights all the time, ran away from home, and stole money from my parents.
Before I got to Yes We Can Youth Clinics, I didn’t think I would change. I didn’t take it very seriously in the beginning and when I arrived I had quite the attitude. This did not work out very well. You’re better off being yourself. I had very good one-on-one sessions in the clinic, which helped me improve myself. I don’t get angry as quickly as I did before and I no longer ignore my problems. I could always talk to other fellows when I was having a hard time and these conversations calmed me down. If that didn’t work, I would reach out to coaches or counsellors. The activities helped me clear my mind and keep me occupied. Everything I did there helped me, so I can really recommend it. I had a great time in the Clinic and I smile whenever I think back to it. Yes We Can taught me to express my limits, show emotions, be vulnerable, share, be myself and that I should do it for myself, not for others. This is the place where I stopped feeling so alone – all the people at the Clinic are there for you.
I’m ready to start over!
Mariska (15) Wanted to Lose Weight, Was Unhappy and Depressed
Before Yes We Can Youth Clinics, I was obsessed with my body. I wanted to lose more and more weight. Whenever I looked in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw, I felt depressed. I closed myself off from others, so of course it started to go downhill at home as well. There were a lot of fights and the atmosphere was toxic.
It was quite difficult at the beginning of the programme. Slowly, however, it went better and I opened up. I shared, talked a lot and learned even more. I left Yes We Can Clinics a better person and I am so grateful.
I still have my ups and downs, but now I know how to deal with them. I talk a lot and my relationship with my parents is great! It’s also important that I can really enjoy my life again and that I feel a lot better about myself. I am so motivated! If things don’t go my way, no problem; I’ll pick it up again! I’m on my way and I have Yes We Can Youth Clinics to thank for a great start!
Sarah (18) Had Behavioural Problems and Has Been in Recovery for Almost One Year.
Let me introduce myself: my name is Sarah and I am 18 years old. I took part in the Yes We Can Youth Clinics programme between January 15 and March 26, 2013. I went there to deal with my behavioural problems. I had gone through a lot in the three months before I joined the programme. I had made mistakes, really big ones. My life was one big mess and I had no idea how to get it back on track. That’s when my mom brought up Yes We Can Youth Clinics…
I did not want to go at first. After all, which teenager wants to go to a Clinic for ten weeks, completely cut off? I am 18 years old; I had gone through too much and had an enormous weight on my shoulders. Ultimately, I agreed. So, there I went, four full suitcases. The other fellows gave me a warm welcome. I was introduced to everyone and we hit it off almost immediately. My roommates were great and I felt at home.
The first weeks were hard, but the better your attitude is, the faster time passes. The activities were really fun as well and I always looked forward to the group sessions. My counsellor could be really confrontational, but he was right every time. You really discover what part you played in all of it and you get how the people at home must feel. I cried rivers, haha! But I also laughed a lot. The coaches are always there for you and become your buddies. The fellows become friends for life. Bonding day came after five weeks and, boy, that was such a beautiful day! I tear up even now just thinking about it.
I didn’t want to go home the last five weeks. The thought that, after 70 nights, you’re suddenly going home, back to reality, was hard to get my head around. 26 March was the day I got to go home. My father, mother, sister and best friend were waiting for me in Eindhoven. I was so happy to see my sister and my best friend again! In the weeks that followed, everyone told me how much they respected me for joining the programme. And I have to say, I was really proud of myself!
The ten weeks in the Clinic were followed by eight weeks of after-care. I went to the meetings every Wednesday afternoon to talk about how things were going after coming home. I even broke down during the final session and I was glad that I did. EVERYTHING was out in the open. I felt reborn, ready to work really hard for what I want to accomplish in life and to turn everything around in the best way possible.
I’ve been back home for about ten months now and I’m still doing great. I do miss everyone terribly but I am still in touch with a lot of fellows. I can always reach out to them when I need someone to talk to.
I really hope others jump at this opportunity, because it only comes once in a lifetime.
Myrthe (17) Was Addicted to Cocaine
I came home a couple of months ago and I still miss you and the clinic. It may sound a bit weird to say you miss a clinic, but my time at Yes We Can was not just difficult, it was beautiful as well and I had a lot of great moments with you. I felt accepted and understood – much like in the meetings I attend three times a week now. I have a sponsor and nice fellows around me that I can actually tell if things aren’t going so well. I’ve been clean for a long time now because of you and what I have at home. In difficult moments, I tell myself not to go for the bottle or the drugs and I can actually talk to the people around me about my problems. Of course, there are still ups and downs at home. My relationship with my parents has really improved after Yes We Can Youth Clinics. Of course, I haven’t won back all of their trust just yet, but that’s understandable. My relationship with my sister is difficult, but I am optimistic. We hang out every once in a while, but we don’t yet talk about everything that has happened. That’s okay; I’ll wait until she’s ready. My little brother is doing quite badly, though. Nothing has changed: he is still very depressed and addicted to gaming. I try to be there for him and I really hope he will accept the same help Yes We Can Youth Clinics gave me.
Whenever the going gets tough, I no longer go for drugs but I attend meetings and talk to fellows instead. I have you to thank for that. I no longer have to pretend that I’m better than I actually am. I am no longer afraid of being myself. I’ll put on a brave face in difficult times and I’ll pretend everything is okay, but it doesn’t take long before I’m honest with myself and others. Recognising my feelings and showing them is still difficult at times. I’m okay most of the time, but sometimes it hits too close to home. I’m still working on it.
You taught me a lot and gave me the chance of a lifetime. I got my life back on track because of you and I can’t thank you enough. I have so much respect for what you do at Yes We Can. I hope to return as an experience expert once I’ve been clean for a year and, a few years after that, as a coach at Yes We Can Youth Clinics.
Richard (21) Lied, Cheated and Manipulated to Smoke Cannabis
Before Yes We Can Youth Clinics, I was an insecure boy that only wanted to smoke weed. I fought with my parents and brother every day. I just kept lying, cheating and manipulating. I stole from them when I ran out of money so I could buy more drugs. Deep down, after five years, I knew that it couldn’t go on like this, but I just didn’t know how to stop using. I screwed up my education because of my drug use – there’s no other way to put it. My parents started browsing online and found Yes We Can Youth Clinics. Reluctantly, I agreed to join the programme. During my stay in the Clinic, I got to know myself again. I started out as an insecure boy who looked for affirmation wherever he could find it, but left as a confident and motivated young man to start doing things again. Yes We Can Youth Clinics taught me to get along with myself, how to love myself and how to stay away from drugs. Now, more than a year after I finished the programme, I still feel the same way. I have a sponsor, I’m going through the steps and I’m really happy with how things are going at home. My parents and brother trust me again. I have found different friends and haven’t used drugs since Yes We Can Youth Clinics. Yes We Can is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I will remain forever grateful to the people there.
Courageous Fellow Tells Her Story
Dear readers, I’d like to tell you my story today. Not because I enjoy sharing it, but to show you what really happened and, hopefully, to inspire you.
It all started when I was twelve. I was a sweet girl, always happy and honest. My parents shared custody of me but were not always able to see eye to eye – and that’s putting it lightly. It was a never-ending battle and I was caught in the middle. Nobody saw what the fighting did to me, because I kept smiling and stayed strong.
Nobody knew, however, that I had been sexually abused a number of times at age 3 and 7 by my babysitter’s little brother. I shrugged it off and was not able to see it for what it really was. Throughout the years, things got out of hand. I was put under the care of Child Services – my biggest nightmare. All of a sudden, I was taken away and put in a home.
I started smoking, drinking and smoking weed at the age of 12. Sex and self-discovery were also part of it. I found out I was attracted to women and, once again, I was in the middle of a fight. This time, the fight was with myself. It all started innocently, until I smoked weed and drank every day, skipped school and stopped caring about the people around me. I pushed everyone away, didn’t want to listen to anyone. After all, I was already an adult! Eh, not at all. At that time, I wanted someone to pay attention to me, to empathise because I was slipping. I cut myself, developed an eating disorder; I wanted to die, became depressed and lived in my own world.
So much happened, but when I told others I was not doing so well, I wasn’t taken seriously: ‘Oh, you’re still young’ and ‘don’t worry child, you’ll learn.’ But nobody knew what was really going on with me. Everybody underestimates you when you’re young, but they do expect you to make an effort for all kinds of things at the same time.
After about 100 different therapies and psychologists, I thought I was beyond repair. My future looked like a giant black hole. The pain and the sadness were just too much and I couldn’t stop using. Using became my safe place, the one I had never had.
I left for Yes We Can Youth Clinics with a whole lot of mixed feelings. My psychologist recommended it and made it possible for me to go (I am eternally grateful). On the one hand, I left thinking: ‘Could this be it for me?’ On the other hand I thought: ‘I can’t get out of here, it’s a never-ending maze, why would this be able to help ME? It’s not possible.’
That is, until I got there… It was hard, I had to fight and fight, but I opened myself up to it because I knew that if this wasn’t the solution, I would give up. But wow! It made such an impact; there was so much love. At one point, it didn’t feel like a ‘clinic’ anymore. It had become a warm, familiar place filled with people that understand you.
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, it’s about where you want to go. There are experience experts, group therapy (yeah, I did ask myself at first ‘Why do I have to do this?’ Trust me when I tell you that it isn’t so bad and that you do get used to it), lectures, sports and a lot more. If you’re reading this: please don’t be afraid of the unknown. If you’re in doubt, register. I got clean, I have my own home again (I lost that too), I am able to let people in, to love. I have regained self-respect; I am not too afraid to ask for help… You learn so much! Even if you had no problems at all and went there for 10 weeks, your eyes would still be opened. It would change the way you look at life. I’m 19 now and I enjoy life to the fullest. Of course, not everything is easy, but I’ll get there, I’m on the way up. I’m writing a book, I have a real job, I attend meetings and I’m surrounded by fellows I am always able to talk to.
Parents, peers… listen to me when I tell you that this will be a real life experience.
Lots of love,
Sebastian (17) Had Given Up All Hope
Before I decided to join Yes We Can Youth Clinics, I had basically given up all hope. I did not think my life would ever improve. I was addicted and I used a lot every day. I lied, cheated and manipulated. I couldn’t care less about rules or commitments I’d made. However, when I heard I was going to YWCYC, I decided to clean up my act. YWCYC has saved my life and changed it for the better. I have learned so much. It was hard and I had to get used to everything. Yet, I also had a great time, with awesome activities and nice people. I got more confident, adopted a positive attitude and my head calmed down. I also learned what addiction is and how it works.
YWCYC is the first thing I have ever finished in my life. I am so happy I made that decision. It truly was a unique opportunity and there’s no other clinic like it. Most of all: I can finally be proud of myself once again.
Charles (18) Struggled With an Alcohol Problem
I’m done. When I was eight years old, my parents split up. I thought it would never trouble me. However, my secret and greatest desire is to think my parents are still together, although this is not realistic. I noticed the divorce of my parents touched me. Subconsciously, the separation bothered me lot. My mother moved out and I often had to bicycle to school all on my own. At these moments I felt very lonely. But I was afraid to express my feelings to anyone.
Over the years it became a habit for me not to express my feelings and hide my problems. Emotionally I felt totally isolated. At the age of 13 I started drinking. I soon noticed this was an easy and quick way to escape my problems. From the beginning I was unrestrained and had no limit. I drank a lot and was also known as the one always drunk. From the age of 17, things got totally out of hand. I completely lost it, consuming large amounts of alcohol. From that moment onwards I drank on a daily basis and could not stop myself. I messed-up the entire home situation. My whole family suffered from my behaviour. Until the moment they said goodbye to me, because it really could not go on like this. From that moment on I started living on my own. That went completely wrong as well and I realised I could not go on any more like this.
For a few years I had been in and out CAMHS services, which turned out to be one big disaster. I changed therapist time and time again, feeling left out with a growing notion no one took the time to me. I totally lost faith in the mental health care system. After a long search, my mother suggested to look at Yes We Can. And when I looked at their website, I knew right away: this will be good for me! I immediately requested an intake.
March 4, 2015, the moment finally came. I was ready to go to Yes We Can. 10 weeks in the clinic changed me. I am home for over 15 weeks and doing very well. I still struggle sometimes, but now I have learned how to deal with it. Yes We Can changed my life. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
I am very grateful I was able to experience this!!!!
Michael (17) Was Addicted to Gaming at a Very Early Age Due to Bullying and Great Anxiety
It already started for me at the age of 3. I then got my first game console and have ever since been a real gamer. I have been severely bullied during my entire period at elementary school. This made me very insecure, so I was going to behave in a way that everyone liked me, hoping the bullying would stop. All that time I was not myself.
My parents separated at birth and at the age of three my mother married another man. My father and bonus father never hit it off. At the end of primary school, my uncle died of cancer and then we all got together. My father became angered by a conversation with my bonus father and left. The next day I went over to my father. He then gave me a sermon, black mouthing my bonus father. That day I became so afraid of my father I did not dare to see him anymore and the six years thereafter we did not have any contact.
In the early days of high school I still managed to game, because homework and studying were not needed to get good grades, but at the end of the third year it went downhill fast. I played for so long during the night that I could not get out of bed the next day. I started to miss classes over and over again. I had weekly meetings with various psychologists, tying them around my finger within 5 minutes. Once they were out of the door, I crawled back to my computer. In the end, I had moments of gaming 30 hours straight, falling asleep on my keyboard. I ate almost nothing, mainly living on sandwiches from the microwave, drinking cans of coke. I no longer washed myself, sat in the same pyjamas and bathrobe for ages. I did everything I could to stay with my computer. Even if I had to be aggressive, I did so to keep playing.
Then I was put to a choice: a closed facility or Yes We Can Youth Clinics. I had no confidence in healthcare and rather go to a closed facility, but conversations with an acquaintance gave me a glimmer of hope. I owe it to him I went to YWCYC.
During the ten weeks at YWCYC, I accepted my gaming addiction and feelings of uncertainty. I learned I had not been myself for years and had to find out who I really am. I learned that avoiding fears played a major role in my life and now feel able to face and deal with them. For the third time I started the fourth year at school and I am quite positive now. I even gave presentations in class about addiction and will probably do so for all other fourth graders, even though I still find that terribly scary. I have gathered a group of friends around me where I feel safe and comfortable. I had a conversation with my father that relieved me of my fears for him. I go to weekly meetings and have a huge list of phone numbers to call immediately whenever I feel troubled. I started to play the piano and korfball. I learned an awful lot about myself at YWCYC. They provided me with the foundation on which to grow every day. This is something I can enjoy the rest of my life and that is what I am grateful for.