Recovery means that I know, without a doubt, that I will recover from a fall. I may get really upset sometimes, angry, depressed, but I know that when I get there, I will return to an equilibrium. Recovery also means relationships – cultivating, maintaining, and enjoying relationships, healing through relationships and connections, being able to repair when things fall apart, and being human.
—Blake, Windhorse Alum
At Windhorse, we recognize that no two recovery stories look the same. Clients come to us from all walks of life, with different hopes, dreams, and expectations. For some, recovery might mean attending and completing college. For others, it may look like being able to perform daily tasks independently. It is our mission to help you discover what recovery means for you, then guide you down the best path to get there.
By putting our clients’ desires above their diagnoses, Windhorse has helped hundreds of clients define and discover their own unique recovery journey. When it comes to sharing success stories, we hold a similar philosophy—no one wants to be defined by their challenges or reduced to a statistic. Instead, we prefer our clients and their families speak about their experience with our program firsthand:
I have become more assertive and learned how to communicate my feelings and emotions in an appropriate manner, instead of holding them in. I have developed a more realistic optimism about my future, instead of always going to the worst-case scenario. I have an increased level of confidence, and am attempting to be more extroverted when the situation calls for it. I have developed the tools necessary to be able to maintain my life if I notice my psychological state starts to deteriorate.
—Josh, Windhorse client
March 29th marks the 15th anniversary of my arrival to participate in the Windhorse program. I was distraught, in great mental anguish, and able to imagine a bright future only with great difficulty.
The skilled and compassionate care of my team, however enabled me to make gradual steps towards recovery: first working and playing music at a local cafe, to enrolling in a graduate program. I hope to receive my PhD next spring! None of this would have been possible without Windhorse. I shudder to think of how things would have turned out had it not been for Windhorse.
My reason for writing this letter is to provide encouragement for your current clinicians and staff by attesting to the positive life-altering changes that Windhorse can enable. In conclusion, I say only: keep up the good work!
—Doug, Windhorse Alum
I have often told people that trying to explain major depression to someone who has only experienced periodic sadness during their lifetime is like trying to explain a migraine to someone who has never had a headache; it’s a different beast altogether and it’s hard to fathom unless you’ve been there, in the trenches. There were many, many days when just getting out of bed was a huge accomplishment for me because being conscious was so incredibly painful.
My world was permeated by judgement, primarily my own. I loathed my very being and looking back this was the root of my depression, which I suppose was all too clear to everyone except me. I isolated myself because going out in the world was so terrifying and so full of criticism. When I had to walk down the street I often put on sunglasses and put in earbuds as a way of keeping myself closed off and protected, but of course that strategy did little to save me from the onslaught of hard criticism coming from my own mind. I was being beaten down on a daily basis from the inside out and there were many days when that beating was to within an inch of my life.
When I first encountered Windhorse it was during a particularly torturous period of my life and my therapist thought Windhorse might ease my isolation, broaden my support network, and help me stay out of a more traditional residential treatment center or a hospital. He was right. Windhorse did all of that and more.
My journey with Windhorse was by no means smooth. There were disagreements, ruptures, missteps, and many, many tears, but it was all worth it because I learned something each time. The disagreements taught me that my opinions and my feelings are just as valid as everyone else’s, and that it’s possible to have conflict and still be appreciated and respected. Through the ruptures I learned that I am stronger than I thought and that I can forgive freely as long as I feel loved. Through the missteps I learned that I can make mistakes and they won’t destroy me; I don’t have to be perfect, and trying and failing are parts of life. Through the tears I found compassion for myself, which I’d never experience before. I’ve grown so much during my time at Windhorse in ways I never imagined possible, and it’s all thanks to the relationships I built with my team. They taught me all of the ese lessons through their care and commitment to me, and through gently showing that the world was not as scary and judgmental as I perceived. And I now lead a fulfilling life that includes a family and a job, as well as numerous interests and hobbies.
I’m not 100% recovered, of course, and I don’t think I ever will be. Depression and anxiety will always be a part of me and there will always be days when I wake up and the world feels like a much darker place. But with each passing year I experience fewer of those days, and I learn more tools for coping with my anxiety, and I appreciate my journey that much more. While my life isn’t what I’d pictured when I was younger, it is a life of meaning, it is a fulfilling life, it is a life worth living. Thank you, Windhorse for helping me find a future.
—Jane, Windhorse Alum