Staff profile: Leon Gailitis
Yep. That’s me.
My path to Banyan House has been decades in the making from my viewpoint.
For me it was the perfect bio-psycho-social storm as a teenager and young man. Parents who abused alcohol, an anxious disposition and unresolved trauma were combined with social awkwardness and a natural curiosity for experimentation and the extremes of society. Having musical and literary heroes who were mostly famous substance users probably didn’t help either for a young person struggling with his identity. Anyhow, to cut a long story short I followed a progression of increasingly dangerous substance use to the point where I found myself addicted, homeless and not in favour with the judicial system.
A Therapeutic Community was my saving grace. There I turned the dim light that was hope for the future and a belief in something better for my life into something believable. I didn’t do it the easy way and fought through much of my treatment but eventually surrendered to the support of those I’d grown to trust. Fortunately for me the first time in treatment was enough for substantial change. I learned that I was responsible for my present and future goals and physical and mental health which was a departure from blaming everyone other than myself that characterised my using life.
After treatment I continued with therapy and being part of a recovery community while learning a trade of sorts (welder) to begin with while studying and volunteering in Drug and alcohol treatment. Eventually I landed a job as a case worker in the same rehab while continuing study. I’ve been a case worker, drug court liaison in two states, adventure-based therapist, counsellor and leader of a counselling team over a decade and a bit before coming to Banyan House. All supported by my loving partner in recovery Annie.
The Banyan experience was borne of a chance agency visit on holiday with the previous CEO and manager. We kept in contact after getting along well and after completing my first degree (starting the second equivalent now) I interviewed and was accepted for my current role.
My hope for the Banyan House program is that we continue to instil the five pillars that we hold dear of Respect Concern Honesty Trust and Love and continue to be the place that people come to in the NT when they are serious about recovery and making real changes. I’m proud to be a Banyan House Community member and hope that all of our staff and residents can say the same.