Reminder on Animal Day

On Animal Day, Castle Craig's Ferd-Jan van Kemenade recalls how, as Therapeutic Duty, he looked after the pigs when he was on a clinical admission to CC in Scotland 15 years ago.

Completely haggard and more dead than alive I arrived in Scotland on August 27, 2007. In the 18 weeks that followed I managed - with the help of many others - to get myself back on track to stay on track when I was back home.

That took a lot. Making complicated emotional decisions, talking a lot, exercising a lot, reading/writing/learning and eating well again. The treatment had all that. Understanding a little more about myself and the destructive side that was in me. Learning to forgive myself and others – if only to be able to live again. Recognizing myself in all the other recovering addicts who were there at the time. Learning to see the enormous anger in me and also learning that I myself had a large part in everything that went wrong in my life…

In addition to all the individual and group therapy, we also got to do very everyday things, so-called Therapeutic Duties. That varied from raising and lowering the flag every day, to lighting a fire, cleaning windows or Pots & Pans – washing dishes. And this of course in addition to keeping the room tidy and making my bed.
Castle Craig is not a luxury resort where you will be pampered. It is a clinic where you learn to deal with life. Where ordinary things become special for the first time in a long time.
But what is most helpful to me today is my Therapeutic Duty, which I was allowed to do for 4 weeks: taking the food waste from the kitchen (peels and leftovers), together with a Scottish fellow, to the pigs every day. Big pigs, I didn't know they could be that big.
In those kinds of daily duties, in the tranquility of the environment, in the strength of the treatment, in the conversations with fellow patients, I rediscovered the timetable of my life.