A holiday to Western Australia proved to be the turning point in Michael’s story – the visit turned into a 7 month stay at Hope Springs Therapeutic Community. Here he shares his experiences and talk about how and why the community made a difference to him.
I came to WA thinking I was going on holiday with my brother. I arrived and my brother talked to me about rehab. I thought about it and decided I would give it a try.
The program at Hope Springs did not give you an opportunity to sit with your negative thoughts, it really takes your mind off things, in a positive way. There is a lot going on. There’s creative writing, yoga, woodworking, karate and physical training.
I would probably say it was my fourth week before I realised I had reached a turning point. I had been clashing a lot with staff previously, and I started to realise that I wasn’t as angry. I was no longer an angry person, I was calmer and more thoughtful.
A supportive community
The fact that you are working as a community, everyone has some issues in their past, knowing that helps. Even the residential support workers had their own stories. There is comfort in that, you start to think that if these guys have been through this, then maybe I can get through this too.
All the staff there treat you with the highest respect, you feel like you are worthwhile. They do not make you feel like you’re a nobody, they make you feel like you’re someone and it’s the best feeling. It’s a real contrast to how I’ve been treated by others.
I learned a lot of skills during my time there, but I also had some amazing support from two of the residential support workers. They managed to get me to open up to them, and they gave me so much time. They made such a difference.
Ups, downs, and future plans
I spent about 7 months at Hope Springs, but I am back in Melbourne now. I finished the last part of the program in Melbourne in July.
The program is 8 months long, and you do have your ups and downs. I still do. But I handle them a lot better. When you get those stressful moments, you learn that you can deal with them. It’s a conscious thought process, you learn to rationalise things much better.
Right now, I’m helping my brother at the restaurant, so I’m working in hospitality. But I’m still hoping to get back to my electrical apprenticeship. I’m working on getting to a point where I can start it up again.