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From jail, to the end of my treatment in 3 different V.A. Treatment Centers, this part of My Story uncovers the journey of my recovery. I vividly, and candidly chronicled my day to day struggles with recovery, mental health, amends, and dealing with the V.A. empire on my blog from October of 2016, to the end of 2017. You can find these musings in the Archives. However, in the coming weeks, I look back at those experiences and give you a more coherent story of my life In Recovery. I look back on that year with more insight as to what was happening, and share with you the principles and actions that built the foundation for my ongoing recovery.
|Before Recovery||Part 1: A Problem||Part 2: Jail Time||Part 3: Reality Check||Part 4: VA Program|
|Pt. 5: Jamaica Plain||Pt. 6: Brockton I||Pt 6: Brockton II||Pt 6: Brockton III||Pt. 7: Cherry St. I|
|Pt. 7: Cherry St. II||Pt. 7: Cherry St. III|
Treatment At VA Brockton Reach
I was in the recovery program at the VA in Brockton Massachusetts from December 15, 2016-April 24, 2017. Less than a mile from the House of Horrors I shared with a violent, alcoholic ex from 2013-2016, it was more than a little depressing at first being there. Housed in a hospital-type dormitory, though it was much less antiseptic than a traditional hospital.
The Brockton Reach Program is designed to equip Veterans with the tools and skills needed to overcome homelessness. The cornerstone of the program is Compensated Work Therapy (CWT). CWT allowed me to start earning money at the prevailing minimum wage, and to start my long term planning for eventual self-reliance.
My time at Reach was very busy. The program was divided into 3 phases. Phase I focused on mainly classes about managing your life, Group Therapy, more DBT and CBT groups, and a strong focus on 12-Step Programs. Phase II was entirely about Compensated Work Therapy and regular therapy sessions.
Reach and Mental Health
By the end of my stay, I would be diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, PTSD, ADHD and Anxiety. My psychiatrist was a brilliant scholar, who really worked hard at achieving the proper diagnoses for my conditions. He also closely monitored my conditions medically.
I was put on a cocktail of medications. After about a month there, I really could tell a difference in my overall mental health. During my time at Reach, I also continued my intensive therapy with Molly; having to travel by bus to the Jamaica Plain campus every week.
We discussed the myriad of interpersonal issues I had, the possibility of having Borderline Personality Disorder, and my inability to manage my emotions; my number one problem, now that I did not have alcohol or drugs to stem the tide. I still had tremendous difficulty gaining any noteworthy friends and continued to isolate myself throughout my stay.
In addition to individual therapies, we were each assigned a Caseworker and a Social Worker. Both of these individuals were inept at their positions. Jeff, the caseworker, dressed like a hood thug and wore his recovery as a big, fat ego tattoo on his forehead. I was part of his “A” team, and every week we had to meet for two hours and endure the magnitude of his “me, me, me” approach to counseling us. I did not like his style, and we butt heads more than a few times about his approach with me.
My caseworker, Susan, was even more inept. I would describe her as a worn out robot. Her approach to her work with me was unemotional, uninterested, and she seemed to work mostly from rote memory. A perfect example of burnout in a profession as I ever saw.
Brockton VA Campus
Many of the buildings on the campus were built during the Civil War. The Brockton VA Campus is a collection of fascinating structures, all interconnected by an underground–and above ground–tunnel system. The campus boasts numerous domiciliary buildings, one of the few VA Spinal Cord Injury Hospitals in the country, a 6 lane bowling alley, and even a Starbucks; which I actually worked at briefly, in the Summer of 2013. I quit only after 2 months because I couldn’t get enough hours.
I spent many hours photographing many of the nooks and crannies of this old campus, as you can see by some of the pictures to the left. I spent hours modifying pictures during my downtime. If you have read any other portions of my recovery blog, you know that I have the propensity to obsess: over emotions, over hobbies, over subject matter.
So you can imagine hour many hours I spent taking and modifying picture after picture. You can view many more of these pictures in the PDF at the bottom of my post. I almost wish I had some of the originals I took, for the architecture is truly a marvel with many of the old buildings.
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|Pt. 6 Brockton II|