Yesterday was one of the great days in my life and, more importantly, I know it was for George. We are so pleased with the progress George has made and while it is a still a long and sometimes difficult road we must all travel, I feel George has gained a new confidence and attendant life skills to allow him to succeed and deal with the bumps and bruises of life. If you ever have a parent to ask for a reference both my wife and I will be happy to provide our input.
- Peter and Suzette
If you are a parent reading this it’s possible that you have a son at a challenging position in life and you are at your wits end trying to figure out if there is even a way to help him. This is where my wife and I were with our son. Our bright, outgoing and athletic adolescent turned into a withdrawn adult, with depression and anxiety, dependent on marijuana and video games. Markus was on medical leave from college having been unable to complete his first term as a freshman. For a whole summer he was cut off from us, living off of friends’ handouts and sleeping on their couches.
As you are doing right now, we read what others had to say and spoke to everyone we could. We felt that some places were too medical and psychiatric oriented and other places were too drug rehab oriented. We didn’t think a mental health facility was right and we didn’t really feel comfortable putting our son in with crack addicts and heroin users.
Fortunately, an educational consultant introduced us to Joseph DeNucci. Joseph asked lots of questions about us and our son. Once he had a thorough understanding of our situation, he told us he believed he could help and explained the “failure to launch” program at Insight Intensive. Joseph even taught us about and walked us through an intervention process helping us identify a professional local area who could help us get the process moving forward.
Joseph and his staff have a compassionate but “tough love” approach and encouraged our son—and us—to take appropriate responsibility for our situation. In addition to the personal growth work, Insight Intensive incorporates a program of exercise, good eating and sleeping, recreation, family work, and community living. Having seen the process work, I believe there is much to be said for guys building a bond with each other, living in a healthy way, and helping each other out. We saw our son get cleaned up and put on a path of responsibility during his time at Insight Intensive.
We were incredibly pleased with Markus’s mentor and appreciated the weekly family calls he led, which were wonderful while sometimes also hard work and emotional. All of the staff created a great environment for the young men. Our son enjoyed the outdoor activities, learned to ride a horse and ended his stay with a work job in the kitchen. They actually sent him home with money he’d earned at his job there. He also left with a plan for school and living in the city with roommates upon his departure.
I write this with our son having been away from Insight Intensive for 4 months. He has a B average halfway through his first term back at school; he is making therapy appointments, maintaining his meds, and appears to be staying away from marijuana. My wife and I have no false allusions that things are perfect and we know that our communication with him could be better. That said, we are in an infinitely better position now than we were prior to Insight Intensive. Markus’s stay there cleaned him up, made him responsible, gave him some tools and appears to have put him on a much better path. We really could not have expected anything more. We highly recommend Insight Intensive to other struggling families. If Joseph thinks he can help you, we would suggest you take him up on it.
Before coming to Insight, the best way to describe how I was feeling was “stuck”. When I went away to college I thought that by getting away from home I could start over. I love my parents but we have definitely had our ups and downs. I never really liked school- my parents and teachers would say I was lazy and unmotivated; they never really got me. I was diagnosed with ADHD in the seventh grade. When I got to college I really started to struggle. I found myself feeling anxious and depressed most of the time and started to get behind in my classes. Instead of studying and going to class, I stayed in my room most of the day playing video games and on the internet. The thought of telling my parents and disappointing them “again” was too much so I avoided telling them. When semester grades came out and they realized I failed most of my classes’ things got worse. I ended up back at home and feeling completely lost. All my friends were moving forward and I was back at home with my parents and without a plan. My parents told me that I could not live at home and that I needed to get some help to figure things out…they were not sending me back to school until they felt I was really ready. That is when they introduced me to Insight.
When I came to Insight, I have to admit I was a little skeptical. However, once I started to build relationships with the other guys and staff…I got it. Being at Insight has helped me figure out who I am. What I needed most was the time and space away from everything to figure out who I am and what I want (not what others want for me). When I first arrived at Insight I was pretty anxious about not having my own computer. Staff said that it was important for me to “unplug” and to start focusing on myself. Being away from the distraction of my computer, phone, and pressures of college and parents, I was finally able to learn about myself and get my head on straight. My senior mentor and therapist really helped me throughout this process….I couldn’t have done it without them.
Before coming to Insight Intensive I was in a pretty bad place. I didn’t even realize how bad things actually were until I got to Insight and started to look at the mess I had left behind. High school was ok…I had friends, not a ton but the ones I had were loyal. My older brother was always the “rock star”. He had good grades, was popular, good athlete… and then there was me. I felt like I was always disappointing my parents. Never had the right grades, friends, etc. I played sports in high school and was pretty athletic but never felt like I was good at anything and didn’t really fit in. I was actually excited about going away to college…a fresh start and an opportunity to really find myself. College was different than I expected. Looking back now, I realize that I was not emotionally prepared to take this on. I started partying and missing classes, but mostly feeling depressed and unmotivated. I knew I could do the work but just couldn’t bring myself to go to class. I started to isolate more and more. I was staying up most of the night and sleeping all day. To deal with my depression, I spent most of my time either on the internet or smoking pot to numb the pain. When my dad came to visit me on campus he told me something had to change and pulled me out of school. When I got home things got worse. I felt my parents disappointment in me daily but I couldn’t figure what to do to get my life back on track.
When I arrived at Insight I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and anxious and really didn’t want to be there but I told my parents I would do it for them…realizing later that I was doing it for me. My confidence was shot and I was feeling really depressed. What helped me most at Insight was the fact that I was around other guys who were feeling the same way I was. I formed some really solid friendships at Insight and those guys really helped me sort through a lot of my issues. I can still hear Joseph saying “understand and manage your depression just don’t become your depression”. Keeping it real and learning coping skills to help me get through tough times gave me the confidence I needed to move forward. Getting in shape and learning to live a “balanced” life also helped me get motivated to make real changes. I learned a lot about myself and why I was “escaping” life. Now I am ready to live it.
Before I came to Insight Intensive I was in a very low-point of my depression. I lost my father when I was 7-years old and I have since identified that I never went through the proper grieving process. I had developed substance problems with weed and alcohol since starting university and these unhealthy coping habits had become an addiction that put me further into depression. These problems had started to hurt my academic work in a rigorous engineering program. Not only were these habits hurting my academics but my self-esteem had dropped dramatically; I became reliant on drugs and alcohol for any social interactions. I had gotten into a place where I believed nobody would like the sober me so I would avoid being sober most of the day. Luckily I had the presence of mind to ask for help at this point because my life had become unmanageable. I withdrew from college midway through the semester and started looking for programs to get my life back on track. Eventually I found Insight Intensive.
When I came to Insight I immediately found someone to talk to who I really felt I could trust. His name was Dave and he was my senior mentor. All of the participants were also very open and welcoming to the program. After just a few weeks my self-esteem and self-worth had increased dramatically by simply living life sober on a regular basis and receiving messages from people who I had left behind at school and at home. My therapist, Kat, helped me identify the real nature of the problems I’ve been having. I worked hard with her to find ways to manage these issues and emotions and to come up with healthy coping strategies when depressed moods occur.
Since the end of my program I have continued to make for the better. The first change is in how I stand up for myself and am more assertive by being able to talk to people about issues I may have with them. Another change has been in dealing with depressed moods. Having a mentor around to talk to was a huge help, so I now surround myself with friends who are willing to listen and support me. I learned at Insight to structure my life so that activity prevents isolation when start to feel down. The last change that has occurred since coming here is my relationship and openness with my parents. Weekly calls with your senior mentor are a great time to be open with your parents and also have a supportive presence in case of problems. After 5 weeks here my parents visited and we had a meeting with both my therapist and senior mentor to update them on things I have changed and any issues or topics I wished to discuss with my parents. All these changes have led to much happier moods, more confidence, and a better relationship with my parents.
Before I came to insight it didn’t take a therapist to determine I needed to address serious issues in my life. The root of my behavioral problems was attachment to my anger. I found comfort in my anger as a distraction from more painful emotions such as sadness, loneliness, and self-doubt. Through the use of my anger I felt empowered. There were parts of my life I didn’t want people to pry or criticize and it kept them at bay. I felt that the reason people would take me seriously was my intensity and possible rage. My anger was my buffer to the world. In hindsight, my anger kept me from everything I wanted in life; maturity, companionship, and an established mentality. The realization that I was not a pleasant person to be around drove me deeper into isolation and use. The lifestyle I had been living brought about nothing but grief, self-doubt, and distrust. After years of legal trouble I found my family was losing faith that I would ever “hit rock bottom” hard enough to realize what I was doing to myself and the pain it caused to those that were close to me. So I finally decided it was time for change.
It hasn’t always been easy and, at first, I found myself isolated here by the same angry behaviors that kept me alone back at home. However, the Insight community was supportive and persistent. I eventually learned (and am continuing to learn) to own my mistakes while not letting my mistakes own me. I’ve started to learn how to get feedback from people without being angered. Since implementing these behavior changes I have felt freedom I have not felt as long as my limited memory allows. I am human so I am aware I am not perfect but my desire is that I am able to accept failure, learn from it, and then move on with added insight. At Insight, I was eventually able to connect with the community and have a real voice in groups. I now have a willingness to grow that my anger was preventing with this new freedom I desire to show myself and everyone else who I can truly be.
I now know that I always have the option to remove myself from a situation if I feel I am about to lose control. When I don’t manage myself well, I journal about my feelings and what I could have done differently to better understand my own emotions before they got out of control. I’ve learned how to use my passions—like fly-fishing and tying flies—as a personal growth practice to help me regulate my feelings and have peace. I also discovered the value of my background working with horses and am pursuing this as a career.
Before coming to Insight Intensive, I was in a very dark place. I was battling bipolar symptoms in addition to living in a city that I hated, going to a school that I hated, and living a life that I hated. I did all of this to appease what I thought society wanted me to do rather than what I wanted to do. My level of depression was so strong that I often would spend days on end in my apartment smoking marijuana and cigarettes, binge eating, and watching TV. The most amount of exercise I got was going from my couch to the fridge. I knew I needed to make a change, so I told my parents that I needed to go somewhere to learn structure and work through my issues. That place was Insight Intensive.
After going through the program at Insight Intensive, I feel like a new person. I’ve quit smoking, lost 25 pounds, and gained more self confidence than I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve learned how to develop a leadership role among my peers, stand up for myself, and use healthy ways to cope with strong emotions. With the support and structure that Insight Intensive provides, I was able to get through some very tough times. During my stay I had to deal with the news of my parents divorcing after 25 years of marriage, the news that a close friend of mine may have a brain tumor and the difficult decision to live elsewhere after I completed the program rather than returning home.
In the past, information like this would have led to me smoking pot, binge eating, isolating myself, etc. Because of the support of my senior mentor and other staff, however, I was able to utilize my healthy coping skills that I’ve learned here. Using these valuable skills enabled me to work through the stress that this news generated without letting it emotionally cripple me. My time at Insight Intensive has been a difficult journey but it’s also been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can’t recommend this program highly enough for anybody looking to change their life for the better.
Before arriving at Insight Intensive I’d flunked out of my first two semesters of college, weighed over 300 pounds, was obsessed with the video game World of Warcraft, and lived with my parents. My parents were at a loss as to what to do with me. Upon arrival, I felt that I had no issues except that I wasn’t motivated in school. At first, I just wanted to coast under the radar and prove to everyone that I didn’t need to be here. I quickly realized that there a lot things that I actually needed and wanted to change in my life. Over the course of my 90 day stay I lost 50 pounds through a healthy diet, an exercise program that I really enjoyed, and by learning to focus more on how I feel in my body than the number on the scale. I enrolled in an online class and got an “A,” which renewed my drive to return to school. I also learned better ways of communicating, dealing with people, making friends, and dealing with the daily stressors of life.
Lastly, the most important discovery I made here was that the real me was within me all along. I just had forgotten who I truly was.