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November 16, 2016

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Moving Forward: The story of a PQ alumna

By: PQ Alumni Student

I didn’t realize how much of my life I was hiding from, and how much I didn’t know about myself, until the three months I spent at Pacific Quest.  Prior to going to PQ in February, I was in a severe depression. I hated every minute and everything about myself.  It was a time that I don’t wish upon anyone.  I hid behind alcohol, sex and shopping, anything that would avoid the idea of feelings, and moving past my pain. I was filled with anger, and major giddiness because the emotions were almost non-existent. I wanted nothing to do with the way I felt, and the fact that I was drowning slowly, falling into pieces I would not be able to pick up myself.  I pushed away friends, family, anyone who cared for me, and I refused to see therapists or take my medication regularly.  After a very dark few months and three days in a psych ward, I realized how much I needed help.

Pacific Quest alumni student shares her experience at PQ and beyond.

Alumni student working in the garden

When I first came to PQ, I fought it, not interested in anything, but as time went on and I learned more about myself I began to love it there. There was no doubt that the program was not easy, but the things I learned and overcame at Pacific Quest, I am convinced saved my life.  I found out at PQ, I have major childhood traumas, anxiety issues and my medications were wrong.  My therapist and the PQ guides helped me regain confidence, realize how incredible I can be, learn to channel my anger, my impulsivity, and cope without addictions taking over. They helped me get on the right medication track, and work out many great things with my family. I have never cried, laughed, yelled, struggled and enjoyed myself so much in my life. It was so worth it.

Leaving PQ was tough, it was like leaving a world of comfort, new strategies, a healthy living style and having to realize that the real world is tough.  I don’t want to go back to where I was, so I have to choose to move forward. I graduated from PQ into a transition program. I fought it for some time, but after about 2 months, I pulled it together. I began to remember all that I learned in Hawaii, and how capable I am. I regained motivation, and the capability to function.

I am now in college, doing excellent, enjoying it and getting the services I need to succeed. I am also working part time in the restaurant industry.  I have been making friends and I’m not pushing anyone away, and even with my family things have improved.  As for my anxiety, I used to get panic attacks to the point where I could not breathe; it felt like I was having a heart attack, with my body spasming.  I could not control it, or understand it, and I was very scared.  Since I graduated PQ in the end of May, I have only had a total of 3 anxiety attacks that I could not control. I now know great deep breathing techniques and body exercises to limit my anxiety to get any farther. I had one therapist tell me “we fear the fear of anxiety” and that has stuck with me forever. I can now tell my triggers, and when I am getting anxiety.

I feel like a whole new person.  My ability to love myself with no one else and to accept the help that I need and want to do well is something I never felt before.  I’m now at a place where I have taken control of my life, and I could not be happier.  I’m convinced Pacific Quest saved my life, and helped me understand how amazing it is to be on this earth and how lucky I am to have gone to a place like that, and be able to grow from it.  It is and will always be a memorable experience I will never forget and will forever be grateful for.

October 18, 2016

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From Surviving to Thriving: The story of a PQ alumna

By: PQ Alumni Student

Before Pacific Quest, I was alive, but I wasn’t really living. I was surviving, but I was far from thriving. My life had become completely consumed by depression and anxiety. It was back in 2014; I had dropped out of college, and not for the first time. I had been suffering for over a decade by that point and had lost all hope. I had been doing therapy for years, had tried countless different medications, hell, I had even spent six weeks at a treatment facility in an attempt to “get better”. I was just about ready to give up, to end it all. I knew I didn’t want to die, though. So I decided to take a chance on Pacific Quest.

I could not be more grateful for my PQ experience.  There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about those three months of my life. The experience is still so vivid in my mind, and I think that’s what is so special about the program.  Being in Hawaii is truly magical. Yes, the experience was beyond tough; it was filled with tears, frustrations, moments of hopelessness. But in the end, it was worth it. PQ helped me save my own life.

Taking a Chance on Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Alumni student with Horticultural Therapy Director Travis Slagle

Notice how I say that I saved my own life?  That’s because I’ve learned to take accountability for my actions and the decisions that I make.  It’s one of the many lessons I learned at PQ.  I learned things about myself that I have never known.  Not only did PQ help me finally gain clarity about diagnoses and medications, but more importantly, I also learned about who I am as a person, and how to love that person!  I learned to appreciate myself for who I am.  I learned tools and coping mechanisms that are still with me, to this day. I learned to see the beauty in life again, and in myself. My experience was a powerful one.

After attending PQ, I moved to a transition program in Oregon. I felt rejuvenated, vivacious, and ready to slowly but surely rebuild my life. I felt so motivated by my experiences in Hawaii, and I was determined to stay on my path of health and self-love. Today, I am still in Oregon. I graduated from the transition program and am living on my own, happily and healthfully. I have a better relationship with my family members than I have ever had before. I have a better relationship with MYSELF than I have ever had before. I’m currently enrolled in college and will be graduating in a few months. Today, I am content with my life. I am proud of myself. I enjoy living! And it’s all because of that fateful day back in July of 2014, when I decided to go to Pacific Quest.

February 5, 2016

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Examining the First Pillar of Health: Nutrition

D2014_10_26_T07_21_26-7-X3At Pacific Quest, students learn that what you put in your body directly affects how you feel. The Pacific Quest diet has been developed to provide balanced and vital nutrition. We take advantage of locally grown foods in Hawaii so that food is always fresh and healthy. We are fortunate to have an incredible local source of beef on the Big Island from the Galimba family at Kuahiwi Ranch.  The students also enjoy fresh fish and a variety of fruits and vegetables that are grown in our organic gardens at PQ or other nearby farms.

We teach the basics of nutrition and how the body uses food as fuel. Purified water and herbal teas are the only liquids provided and students are taught how high sugar diets contribute to fluctuating blood sugar levels, which can cause mood changes and energy crashes. Students learn how to cook and prepare food using the freshest and most natural ingredients.

At Pacific Quest, we believe food is medicine and fuel for the body. We provide whole foods, hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory, and blood sugar balancing diet, rich in critical nutrients for optimizing health.  The Pacific Quest diet consists of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, local protein sources, healthy fats, limited amounts of dairy and no refined sugars or processed foods.

Eating nutritious food, free of refined sugar, artificial chemicals and harmful substances helps our adolescents and young adults feel better and have adequate energy for optimal engagement in the therapeutic process.IMG_0001 (2)

We emphasize the importance of eating in a relaxed setting to optimize digestion. The students are encouraged to chew their food well and take their time to eat. The basics of nutrition are discussed as well as the building blocks of a healthy diet. Pacific Quest cultivates the students’ appreciation of the evolution of their food from the soil to their plates while they harvest and cook many of their own meals.

Pacific Quest’s list of typical foods:

Protein: fish, eggs, yogurt, lentils, tofu, beans, chicken, beef, nuts, seeds, and hummus.

Starches: pita, oats, gluten-free pasta, taro, potato, rice, quinoa, corn tortillas and sweet potato.

Vegetables: tomato, zucchini, carrot, broccoli, eggplant, celery, cauliflower, squash, beets, onion, green beans, kale, spinach, corn, peppers, radish,

Fruits: apple, papaya, banana, passion fruit, guava, pineapple, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, orange, and avocado.

Herbs: dill, garlic, lemon, lemongrass, lime, thyme, rosemary, basil, ginger, cilantro, parsley, fennel, nasturtium, turmeric, green onion, and mint.

Nuts: cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and soy nuts.

Seeds: pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Condiments: parmesan cheese, soy sauce, braggs amino acids, coconut oil, olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, honey, peanut butter, yogurt.

Whey protein powder: weight maintenance supplement.

Snack: consist of granola, raisins, soy nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and cashews.

Water: The students drink 96 ounces of water daily. We encourage them not to drink a lot of water while they eat as it will inhibit digestion.

November 3, 2015

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Mental Health Habits that Kill Your Teen’s Confidence

November 8-14 is National Mental Health Wellness Week, yet many families do not recognize this period of awareness as they feel it does not pertain to them.

Even today, the term “mental health” comes with a stigma attached. “We now have clear evidence that stigma has a toxic effect by preventing people seeking help for mental health problems,” says Professor Graham Thornicroft on Healthline.com. “The profound reluctance to be a ‘mental health patient’ means people will put off seeing a doctor for months, years, or even at all, which in turn delays their recovery.”

Young people are the group most affected by the mental health stigma, along with men, minorities, military personnel and those working in the healthcare field itself. When attempting to cope with stressors, many teens turn to negative, self-defeating behaviors, before approaching a parent or professional for help. These behaviors eventually build barriers that can prevent teens from living a happy, confident life.

Attempting to Shed the Stigma

Mental Health Wellness week is a time when parents can help support their struggling teen, and attempt to help shed this stigma. Mental National Health Wellness Week is a grassroots public education campaign, created to:

  • Promote greater understanding of what mental health wellness is
  • Address the mind/body connection
  • Provide evidence-based approaches to mental and physical whole-person wellness
  • Help teens and adults find support groups and wellness events near them
  • Address vital coping skills such as stress management techniques, mindfulness, healthy lifestyle choices and realistic goal setting

Poor Mental Health as a Confidence Killer

The term “mental health” is a wide-cast net, encompassing everything from how we think about ourselves, our lives and the world around us. Remember, just because your teen may not appear to have a serious mental health issue, there may still be an opportunity to improve their overall mental health wellness. Did you know low-self esteem can be a result of a variety of mental health issues? In fact, it’s a literal thinking disorder in which an individual views himself or herself as unlovable, inadequate and/or incompetent. Teens with low self-esteem have been found to grow into depressed adults, according to research analyzed on PsychologyToday.com.

Here are some common mental health issues that can kill your teen’s confidence, and how you can help them overcome.

1. Negative Comparisons

Comparison is said to be the thief of joy, and in today’s modern world, it steals confidence via social networks and smartphone apps. Today’s teens are highly connected, living as a fly on the wall in other’s lives just as much as living in their own three-dimensional reality. Because teens often show their “ideal” life in Instagram photos and Facebook status updates, it can be easy to put a magnifying glass to areas where they feel they don’t stack up—wealth, physical appearance, athletic ability, etc.

2. Perfectionism

Oftentimes the stress our teens feel on a daily basis comes from their own personal criticism. If your teen often procrastinates, feels overwhelmed when making day-to-day decisions or gives up before ever trying, he/she may be a perfectionist. Perfectionists have self-esteem that can fluctuate drastically depending on how well they meet their excessively high personal standards. This is extremely dangerous as perfectionism is strongly related to self-harm, according to a York University study published in the Review of General Psychology.

3. Thoughts of Regret

When a struggling teen allows their thoughts to travel to the past, desperately wishing they could undo a personal decision or action, they prevent themselves from practicing mindfullness. When used as proper motivation, thoughts of regret can propel appropriate reflection and steer a teen back on the right course. But regret can also develop into a pestering sidekick, tagging along as a nagging “frenemy” living inside our teen’s heads, taking a toll on their mental and physical health.

During this year’s Mental Health Wellness week, take time to talk to your teen about these self-defeating behaviors and provide tools and resources to help them improve their mental health status. If you need additional resources or professional help, Pacific Quest is here for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
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