Testimony of Katie - WinGate Student

At some point a few years before I went to Wingate Wilderness Therapy I was swallowed up by an avalanche. The darkness overwhelmed my life and the cold started to creep in. When you get taken out by an avalanche, you don't know which way is up or down and you don't know how to dig yourself out. You need help to escape before it gets too late and you get stuck. I was in a dark place before I went into the wilderness. I was living with depression and anxiety and using different substances to escape.

I struggled early on in high school and began to feel numb towards the world around me. I felt myself getting off the tracks and started becoming angry and defiant. I constantly was arguing with my parents about school, sports and my health. They were doing everything that they could, offering me therapy, neurofeedback sessions, endlessly trying to get through to me. I didn't want any part in my family by the time I was in my sophomore year. I was battling with some substance abuse issues and began having a hard time performing well in my classes.

Because of my downward spiral I stopped playing soccer, which only made me angrier and more depressed. I was fighting with my parents everyday about anything and everything; there was no rhyme or reason to it. They just wanted me to stay busy and healthy. They knew where boredom led to. But it's what I wanted, more free time to engage in things that were unhealthy and without control from anyone. I told myself without sports I would have more time to go out with friends and get into trouble. I just wanted to do what I wanted.

I Started Becoming a Different Person

I would read my parents text messages to 'stay ahead of them' and I ended up finding out how to steal a lot of cash from them without being caught. I was stealing hundreds from them every week to fuel my poor behaviors. I remember waking up and everyday my first thoughts would be going through what I could do that day to find the next high or feel good activity. I was incessantly trying to live this process every day. Chasing the next high is something they say in drug and alcohol classes that no one really believes is a real thing, until it is, and you don't want to do anything without that next high.

I thought I was having fun most of the time. It wasn't until I was sober that I realized I was miserable of putting up an act every day, keeping up with all of the lies. When you're addicted you can try to stay on top of the buildup of lies you've threaded into your life, but it becomes impossible, and when you get caught it only makes you angrier. When you're addicted you never really admit you're wrong unless you are trying to manipulate someone.

My parents started catching on to the seriousness of my problems after I crashed my car into my mom's one night and popped a tire and couldn't remember anything the next day. It didn't matter to me that I was doing these very dangerous things because if I died in a car accident it would be claimed as just that, 'an accident'. In reality I didn't mind the possibility of being in an accident that took my life, because I wanted to die. I just didn't want to have to kill myself.

I Was Lucky That My Parents Got Me Help

I didn't truly realize how lucky I was until almost half a year into rehab. The morning I was taken to WinGate I was drunk and angry. I knew what was happening the second I saw two strangers standing in my room. I didn't want to try to run, I just wanted to cry. Looking back, I think I was subconsciously relieved. I didn't have to keep running around my web of lies, I could finally relax. But in the moment, I cried because I didn't want to give up the life I was living, the one where I didn't have to be responsible for anything and I could numb everything out.

Arriving at WinGate was an entirely new obstacle for me. I knew instantly I had to act strong and put on the "I don't need anyone" face. I was going to pretend to not be bad and just fake it till I make it. I remember putting on a show during my first therapy session, trying to make myself not seem that bad. She read me like a book, and I had no chance. There was no manipulation to be done when you're in the wilderness. Everything is so raw that you have no choice but to be fully immersed.

Some girls try to avoid doing the dirty work and learn the program. I jumped right in; it was my way to move through as fast as possible. I thought if I can get out in 8 weeks, I will still have some summer left before senior year starts. I had no idea that the next 13.5 weeks would be some of the best of my life. I had a trip to Hawaii planned, multiple graduation parties and not to mention my best friend's birthday. I would give all of those up again if it meant keeping my time at WinGate.

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