End of Year 2017

Michael C: Learning to Have Fun Again

Looking back now, as a graduate, Michael admits that his journey to Board of Child Care was more challenging — both physically and emotionally — than he had imagined it would be.

“I did not know my stay at Board of Child Care would be the hardest thing I have ever done,” he says. “But I knew that I was here for a reason.”

More important, he says, is realizing that the transformation that took place within him during his stay was what he needed.

Many challenges

At a young age, Michael battled depression and anxiety. His parents sought help for their son in Virginia that specializes in assessments for adolescents. But, being so far away from his family in Bel Air, Md., may have been hurting more than helping.

“Nothing worked at first. I was out of control and was a danger to myself and others,” Michael says. “It took a while, but I began to see that I was on a path to destruction and needed to change my behavior.”

What gave him hope was knowing that, if he got better, he would be able to see his family, and that contributed to positive improvements in his behavior. Eventually, Michael progressed through the program and was deemed safe to leave. However, he was not out of the woods. He was still having issues that would prevent him from returning home and was transferred to Board of Child Care.

“Although I was miserable, the prospect of moving to another [facility] and having to adapt to a new life, was scary,” he says.

 I needed to change

He noticed major changes, within himself and others, as soon as he arrived on campus. For instance, the employee who greeted him kindly and made him feel at ease: “I knew, from the smile she gave me, that everything was OK; that this place, as awful as it seemed, was actually OK.”

Then seeing his parents again, triggered an even deeper emotional response: “When my dad whispered in my ear for the first time in years that he loved me, I knew I needed to change.”

The journey to recovery began to pick up speed almost immediately when Michael moved into the Baltimore campus, which contains 14 living units and a semi-independent living group home called Gateway. By customizing his treatment, he quickly regained his independence — and his confidence and self-esteem.

“Eventually I moved from Cottage 6 working my way to the semi-independent living program,” he says. “I stayed in a [multi-person] room, and would eventually successfully transition from Gateway out of BCC’s program.” 

The real superstars

Michael embracing Mr. Shawn Elbert, Spiritual Life Coordinator and mentor

Michael says his recovery would not have been possible without the staff at BCC.

“When I was going through the different stages of my life here at BCC, I realized that superstars on TV are fake,” he says. “It is the people who help you get through life when you are at your worst who are the superstars. They want you to be successful in all that you do and they give you tools and skills to help you be successful on your own.”

Those skills include not only how to handle your condition, he says, but “life skills” like how to cook, how to budget money, how to shop, and how to keep your room clean.

“Basically, everything I didn’t get before but needed in order to live life on my own,” he says.

Michael is currently a student at Woodstock Job Corps, a residential education, and vocational training program, and is working toward becoming a certified medical assistant and, one day, a licensed practical nurse.

“The most important thing I learned is to have fun with life,” Michael says. “You only live it once. Go out and hang with friends. Laugh. It’s the best medicine.”