My husband and I came to the beautiful Isle of Lewis in 2011, to be the first inhabitants of Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor’s Recovery House. What followed was life changing – not just for my husband, but for our whole family, including our three children. When we went there, we were desperate and I was terrified of that happen, given the years of despair, hopelessness, terror, grief, rage and powerlessness we had experienced as a family within mainstream psychiatric services in Australia.
My husband had been diagnosed with ‘treatment-resistant’ schizophrenia, many years ago and I had given up work to care for him after the mental health system had proven unable to keep him alive, let alone offer any hope – only high levels of sedation that kept him a zombie, often asleep for eighteen hours a day, or a chemical straight jacket on the couch.
I flew over with my husband as he was unable to go by himself; he flew back three months later by himself – transformed, and ready to take on life again.
Two years on, he remains medication free and I have my husband back. He’s completed a Master’s degree and is about to undertake his PhD.
Most importantly, though, he’s doing the things he really wanted to be able to do that other people take for granted – to be a loving and capable father and husband – taking our children out to activities, being my partner in my life again. He’s able to focus on his academic studies without either being consumed by paranoia or sedated so heavily by psychotropic medications that he can’t put two sentences together in his head – an experience he described as having a hangover on top of the flu every day. He’s able to play cricket and basketball with our kids and help them with their homework.
Ron and Karen, through the Recovery House, made this transformation possible. They have created a physical and emotional space where shattered people can be shepherded and safeguarded, challenged and validated in a structured and holistic way, through a space and time on reflection and growth, where they can begin to choose to take back control of their life.
My husband hasn’t looked back, and has found fulfilment, purpose and joy in life again. This, of course, has been transformational for our whole family as well. I have resumed work and my own interests, our children are thriving, laughing, and secure again. We are well-loved, and have re-discovered other things we’d lost along the way, such as faith in the future, and a sense of control over our lives again.