“It provides that ‘high on life’ sort of feeling as opposed to actually wanting to get high,” Steven C. shares, regarding his time as a Film Department intern at Beit T’Shuvah.
That sensation may have seemed like an unattainable goal for the sensitive and deep feeling oldest child of two moms born in the San Fernando Valley of California in 1995. Conceived with the help of “Anonymous Sperm Donor 222”, Steven also grew up with a younger sister, Ali, and an older cousin, Brandy in what he describes as, “a cool and interesting life.” While most kids may have been going to church with their families on Sundays, Steven remembers, “My sister and I always going to one of my mothers’ softball games or practices.”
But his cool and somewhat unconventional childhood was also similar to many residents at BTS in the sense that he suffered from depression from a very early age. He recalls a particular moment in third grade where, once his teacher had been diagnosed with breast cancer, the counselor assigned to help him and his classmates cope with the trauma recognized the emotional effects on young Steven. “She noticed my depression and helped me deal with it and the eventual loss of that teacher when I was in fifth grade,” he recollects.
But his malaise persisted through puberty and by the age of fourteen Steven had begun drinking. In eleventh grade, he graduated to smoking weed, and as he describes, “By the age of twenty-three I had such a strong tolerance for marijuana I had to use alcohol again to suppress my feelings of depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental health issues.” By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Steven was drinking regularly at work. Understandably fearful and anxious concerning the deadly disease, he quit that job and holed up at his place. “I was constantly drunk and I didn’t shower for forty-five consecutive days,” he recalls.
He then briefly moved to Reno, Nevada to live with his grandfather and it was there that he confessed to him that he was an alcoholic. “I had to because the environment was wrought with alcoholics, gamblers, and addicts,” he shares. Within a week and a half of that admission, Steven flew home and, shortly after touching down, he was able to interview with Lysa H. at Beit T’Shuvah. Following the interview, he crashed on his parents’ couch for a week and then was admitted into BTS. “It wasn’t until I got to Beit T’Shuvah that I realized my sober date was actually my sister’s birthday, August 17, 2021,” he explains with that genuine smile.
The first week was terrifying for Steven but, as he says, “I committed to introducing myself to everyone I could to help me overcome my anxiety.” And three months into his stay he began an internship with the kitchen preparing salads for staff and resident meals. He also began interning in the BTS Film Department with Jesse S. and, as mentioned earlier, that experience has been transformative for the creative kid from the “Valley”. As part of his duties with the Film Department Steven has helped produce the weekly virtual Schmatta, social media posts for BTS, and virtual Shabbat services at Beit T’Shuvah.
But he’s most proud of the work he performed at BTS for Purim. As he relates, “I was able to co-create, co-write, and co-direct the Purim play we put on for the community with only three weeks to prepare and produce. I also got the bonus of playing David Baer in the production.” The creative outlet has helped Steven feel more comfortable in his own skin and has also allowed him to feel like a bigger part of the BTS community.
He gives a lot of credit to his recovery team for his dramatic turnaround. “They care sometimes in a manner that I’m not used to experiencing – in all the best kind of ways,” he shares. And right at his ninth month anniversary at Beit T’Shuvah, he just began working a full-time job for a private sales and marketing firm doing door-to-door sales. As he joyfully puts it, “This job is going to provide a lot of personal and professional growth opportunities for me moving forward and, as an awesome bonus, my co-workers’ ideals align perfectly with my own recovery program.”
And Steven has also been able to improve his relationship with his family during his healing journey. “My parents are excited that I’ve found a community and have a program in place to help me fulfill my potential,” he lovingly explains. A regular fixture at BTS multimedia events, Steven has become an almost indispensable member of the Beit T’Shuvah family and he’d have it no other way. He concludes by saying, “BTS has given me everything. It’s allowed me to find a proper path for my future.” And as he embarks on this next exciting chapter of his still young and developing life we all look forward to what Steven is able to co-create for his own future productions of healing, happiness, and new horizons. Lights! Camera! Next best Action!