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Sam: "I had no life"

“Quit your job now. Sam will need full time care for the rest of her short-lived life.” – The doctor speaking to Sam’s mother before she received treatment.

Sam, 19, was in acute psychosis, covered in blood and unable to tell staff if it was hers or someone else’s. She was scared. Incoherent and confused, her body and mind were breaking down.

In three short years, Sam’s life had unravelled following a spinal injury when she was just 16. An opioid addiction (from prescribed pain killers) had escalated into frequent binge drinking, cannabis consumption and taking “whatever drugs were around”. She was then diagnosed with schizophrenia.

“I had no life. I didn’t want to be the person I was. When I say the three months at Triple Care Farm were the hardest times of my life, I’m not even close to exaggerating.” The impact of the farm program has never left Sam. “I cried, I begged to go home. A life of drugs was far easier than anything on the Farm.”

Arriving at the Farm with plastic bags on her feet to “avoid the germs getting into [her] brain”, a beanie, sunglasses and an oversized jumper, she hid from the world. Hearing voices and paranoid, it was the counselling sessions that were the hardest.

“Letting people in – that was impossible. I feared being judged. I was desperate not to be the person I was.”

That was until one winter’s morning, Sam sprinted across the frosted grass and burst into the Farm offices with unbridled excitement. She desperately wanted to ring her mum. “I had woken up and, for the first time that year, I wasn’t hearing voices. I wasn’t paranoid. My head was clear!”

After months of therapy, support, graduating the program and the assistance of Aftercare workers, Sam is 12 years free of her substance dependency. Since leaving the Farm, she has completed a certificate in Youth Work and Mental Health, a diploma in Mental Health Drug and Alcohol and a degree in Paramedicine. Next year Sam hopes to begin post graduate studies in Chronic Disease Management.

Today she works full time, helping mentally unwell people control their weight, physical health and fitness.

“I graduated university in 2019. Mum watched on, tears streaming down her face – tears of pure joy, tears of pride.”

*Name changed to protect privacy; stock image used.