- Mental Health
I was a very shy, sensitive child. I had mental health problems since my early teen years, and I found it hard to talk to anyone about my issues and extreme social anxiety. I did confide in a doctor, but this was around 1983, and not much was understood or done around mental health back then in the UK. I then found alcohol, and it immediately changed the way I felt. I felt confident and warm inside, so I carried on using alcohol through my teens and smoking. I moved on to LSD and speed in my early twenties, always mixed with a lot of alcohol, I then moved on to cocaine and ecstasy.
I was a functioning alcoholic/addict. I continued to work and tried to maintain some outward act of normality when inside I was dying, riddled with self-loathing, anxiety and fear. Thoughts of suicide came and went. I always thought there was something wrong with me. I didn’t fit in this world and had to fake and force myself to be a certain way I thought was expected of me, always so self-conscious and paranoid about what people thought of me.
Then, in 1999, my brother died from a heroin overdose. I found him, and this probably tipped me over the edge. I thought, I have held down a good job, got a mortgage, lived with my partner and none of it has made me happy. I’m still riddled with self-hatred, feel uncomfortable in my own skin, find it hard to talk to people. I had to put on this big act all the time, alcohol and drugs allowed me to be this loud, outgoing, wild party girl, I did a lot of things I am ashamed of. after my brother’s death, I started using heroin to numb the pain. I was in a deep depression, and I could hardly function anymore. I lost my job and quickly spiraled down into a full-blown heroin addiction. This went on for 10 years. I moved a lot, lurching from one crisis to another. Life was unbearable, and it was all anesthetized in a haze of heroin, booze and crack.
To fund my massive drug habit, I ended up committing crimes and inevitability ended up in jail. I ended up in prison in 2009, and that was my rock bottom. I found a leaflet for NA and thought maybe there is a way out of this hell. Once I left prison, I moved back to my hometown and started going to AA/NA meetings. I then went along to a Buddhist meditation group the Fifth Precept runs by Vince Cullen, and slowly but surely I dug myself out of the hole. It took a lot of work and I use the 12-Steps, the dharma and some profound teaching on retreats to transform my thinking.
I’ve had a spiritual awakening, and it saved my life — mainly Dharma Punx, against the stream, so I’m very, very grateful to Noah Levine and Vince Cullen who introduced me to the path … also the ATS teacher Frank Uyttebroeck. For me, my spiritual awakening has allowed me to find love, compassion and acceptance of myself and others. I find beauty in things I didn’t even notice before.
My life now is a life beyond my wildest dreams. I am clean and sober. I met my soulmate three years ago, and we got married on 27 October, 2015. I still have my problems, but I can face them now and I don’t have to drink and drug to cope, I face life on life’s terms. There is a life after drugs and alcohol and it is a very good life.