We first met Jace when he was a homeless young man living in a men’s shelter. He carried everything he owned in his backpack. Each night, Jace would queue outside the shelter hoping to get a meal and a bed for the night. If he arrived too late, he would spend the night riding trains – just trying to keep warm and dry. He felt hopeless and had begun to think suicide was the only way out of his miserable existence.
It’s hard to pinpoint when his life began to unravel. Jace had been addicted to drugs for some time. They made him feel paranoid and anxious but this wasn’t the only problem in Jace’s life. His father was also plagued by addiction and was diagnosed with a terminal illness. His mother was overwhelmed trying to manage having an ill husband and an ill son.
Jace had tried to quit his drug addiction many times, but without help he found the withdrawal period too difficult. When we spoke to Jace for the first time he told us:
“I want drugs out of my life. I’ve been in a loop for years – from crisis to crisis and I want it to stop. I want to change the way I live.”
A few weeks into the program, the staff noticed he was still moody – sometimes withdrawn, paranoid and anxious. At other times he was keen to participate in group activities, talkative and friendly. These patterns of behaviour were identified as untreated Bipolar Disorder.
The team at Triple Care Farm worked with Jace to help him understand he had a mental illness that needed treatment and counselling. They educated him on the links between his illness, drug use, the importance of taking his medication, exercise and following a healthy lifestyle.
While shocked by the diagnosis, Jace was enthusiastic about making the lifestyle changes required to regain his health. He attended the farm’s gym and boot camp regularly, committed to classes to improve his literacy, numeracy and job seeker skills. He also achieved his bobcat and forklift licences, completed a short course in Café Skills, a Certificate II at TAFE and finished his Year 10 equivalent.
“It was amazing how much Jace achieved in such a short amount of time. He was so enthusiastic and eager to change.” – Case Manager at Triple Care Farm
Jace is now in the Triple Care Farm Stepping Out Aftercare Program. His condition is stable and he sees his doctor regularly. Jace has begun a hospitality course at his local TAFE and is currently on a work experience trial in a café. Through the Stepping Out Program, Jace has been able to find secure and appropriate housing and has been introduced to other support services in his area.
“Triple Care Farm has completely changed the way I think. I care about my future and have career goals in place. I look forward to every day – confident I can earn an income, buy food and have somewhere to call home. I can’t believe how much my life has changed.”
*Name has been changed to protect the student’s privacy