This is a story about how Triple Care Farm not only saved the life of Lily*, but restored the special, irreplaceable bond between mother and daughter. It was New Year’s Day 2019 when Lily* admitted she needed help. Mum Jean* remembers the day. “Lily had been very unwell for such a long time – both physically and especially mentally. Our relationship was fragile, and I was really scared that I would lose her’. Like the 93% of the young people arriving at Triple Care Farm, Lily was living with a mental illness.
It is hard to imagine the darkness of depression and severe anxiety and what young people may do to seek relief. Self-medicating and self-harm, along with thoughts of suicide became the norm for Lily, causing more strain on her relationship with her mother. Jean* was also suffering, as they struggled to navigate addiction, mental illness, and Jean’s own chronic health challenges. Something had to give, and it did the night a young person sadly lost his own life due to a drug overdose at a music festival Lily was attending. The next day was the 1st of January and Lily put in an emotional call to her Mum.” ‘I need to go somewhere,’ and she responded, ‘I think you do too’ and thankfully, was soon at Triple Care Farm. First at David Martin Withdrawal Centre and then in the Rehabilitation program.”
Many of us make New Year’s resolutions and forget them, but for Lily, the call that day set her on a path of recovery and renewal. It also began the healing journey for a mother and daughter.
“There was a little joke that I was the dux of rehab. I laughed along, but what others didn’t know is that I worked so hard because I knew I would be in recovery the rest of my life.” Lily stated. The green shoots of hope were quickly evident. “I didn’t see her for nearly six weeks – but when I did, I could see she had changed. She seemed a lot more mature and was taking more responsibility” as Jean* recalls. Every young person is on a different journey, and they heal in their own time, but Jean* left that day with a sense of relief and hope she hadn’t experienced for a long time. Lily was finally safe and on the right path.
Facing the real-world, leaving Triple Care Farm and reconnecting with your family and the wider community can be difficult. Aftercare is so important in a young person’s journey, and Lily had already been goal setting with Youth Worker Todd, whilst in the program. “I had a positive experience with Aftercare. Todd was always checking in on me, making sure I kept going to my psychology appointments, supporting me as I transitioned to new work, and he was available for anything” Lily stated.
Now two years since leaving the farm, Lily refers to a personal ‘toolkit’ that she leans on to face the day’s challenges.
“People in the real world don’t congratulate you for not hurting yourself. The truth is the real world is hard. Therefore, I carry with me all the lessons learnt at the farm and that has made all the difference to my recovery.”
There are challenges. She made the difficult decision to remove herself from friends who are still caught in the cycle of self-destructive behaviour and admits that there are still some dark times as she continues to work on her mental health. Aftercare is so important in those early days living back in the community.
When we last spoke to Lily, her mum was sitting by her side. They laughed together, and even cried a little, remembering the journey that has led to today. Two years after leaving the program, Lily is in a healthy loving relationship, working part time and studying. She dreams of a professional career in publishing and the arts and based on the courage and determination she’s demonstrated so far, we are sure she’ll get there. We are filled with joy seeing Lily continuing in what she’s learned, showing a love for life and for her mum. I close this letter today with a thank you from Lily. “I’m just so grateful to the donors and everyone at the farm. You saved my life.”
*Name and image changed to protect identity.