Mother & Son Conversation

Wonderful Days Ahead

A mom and her young adult son talk about his experience at Skyland Trail and the progress he’s made since completing the adult residential treatment program at Skyland Trail.

Mom: Why were you hesitant about enrolling in treatment at Skyland Trail?
Son: I had been at another treatment center for three or four months, and I just wanted to come back home. I thought going to Skyland Trail would prolong the process. I guess I wasn’t really considering, ‘Have I actually gotten better?’ It was mostly just not wanting to have to do it all over again, especially since I didn’t like the first treatment experience very much.

Son: Why did you think Skyland Trail would be a good place for me?
Mom: I liked that it was a campus with people who were going through similar things to you. I liked that it was evidence-based, meaning that the classes and methods were rooted  in research and were more proven to work. Skyland Trail was a place that had demonstrated that they were able to work very effectively. I also liked that they had an option for you to ‘step down’ to day treatment with transitional living. After leaving the residential treatment program, you could live on your own and still go to Skyland Trail for treatment during the day.

Mom: How was your experience at Skyland Trail different than what you expected?
Son: At Skyland Trail, I felt like they knew what they were doing. There was more structure throughout the day with all the classes and one-on-one sessions. The program also allowed me to make friends and have a group of people I felt close with. That really made a difference for me, in addition to learning from the mentors and staff.

Mom: How would you compare your day-to-day life now compared to before Skyland Trail?
Son: Other than just feeling more capable, now I live independently away from home. Before Skyland Trail I hadn’t had much experience living on my own. Now I’m able to get stuff done without having to be constantly reminded or told what to do. The ability to self-structure and self-motivate came from Skyland Trail. I’m able to push myself more.

Son: What is the biggest change you see in me since I completed treatment at Skyland Trail?
Mom: You came back from Skyland Trail much more able to take responsibility for yourself. That wasn’t just about you and Skyland Trail. That was also about me and Skyland Trail. There was family therapy, and I had discussions with doctors too. I learned that I might be contributing to some of your struggles by jumping in and not always giving you a chance to take responsibility. I learned to give you that space so that you could make your own decisions and flourish.

I also think you became more resilient. You learned to say, ‘Here’s something that’s hard, but I can ask for help. I can acknowledge that it’s making me feel anxious or upset and I can talk about it. And I know it’s a temporary state.’

It’s three years later now and now I see a young man who is thriving – who is looking forward to his future, who has his own apartment and is finishing college – who is having a happy and productive young adulthood. Before that, it was more worrisome. We were not necessarily looking toward the future with optimism. That’s a revolutionary change. It’s so joyful now – to see you!

Mom: Do you see your future differently now?
Son:  Definitely. Yes. It was really rough before my time at Skyland Trail. I was constantly looking at the present moment and focusing on how bad I felt. I was thinking about the past and focusing on things I regretted. Now, especially now that I’ve lived by myself, worked a part-time job, and completed college classes, I can really enjoy life more. On the last day at Skyland Trail, I gave a short graduation speech. I remember one of the things I mentioned was that I was finally able to enjoy watching the 76ers play in the NBA again. Many things that I wasn’t able to enjoy for a while, I’m able to enjoy now. That’s something I’m definitely grateful for.

Son: What is your hope for me for the future?
Mom: I just hope you continue to be happy and productive. I don’t want to put guardrails on your future. I’m enjoying watching you explore right now to see what feels comfortable for you. I’m confident there are lots of wonderful things ahead.

Mom: What was the most helpful thing I (or our family) did for (or said to) you while you were struggling?
Son:  It was really hard for me to accept that I had to spend so much time away from home. Having reaffirming words and being able to talk to you and the rest of the family slowly helped me accept my situation. You always let me know that there would always be a love between us, even when sometimes it would feel like you were angry, or I was angry. Knowing that I had people had home who cared for me and wanted to see me do well really meant a lot.

Son: What would you like other parents to know about supporting a young adult who is struggling?
Mom: You have to keep letting your young adult know how much you love them, even when you feel like it’s not being heard. I also think that it is really hard to say, ‘You can’t come home right now. Or you can’t be here right now.’ But if they’re going to a place that is providing the help that they need, it might be the best thing you can do. Those were hard decisions to make. The family really does have to look at the whole picture. Maybe the young adult who goes into treatment is struggling, but there are so many ways in which we all contribute to the situation – not with malice, often with love, but misdirected. But the bottom line is there is hope and you can turn the corner through patience, tolerance, and love.