December 2005 - Part 2
Last December I wrote an article for InSight about my experiences. I wanted to send a message of hope, to tell anyone reading this who has mental health or drug problems not to give up. The last paragraph of my article told how I has just started a college course and had begun speaking at conferences. I said my future was getting brighter. I was right - my future did get brighter and remains so.
I found myself on the streets, I had no self-worth, no self-esteem, I hated myself and wanted to die on a daily basis. I had nothing, no home and my children were put into care. I couldn't cope with being me. There was not enough drugs in Nottingham to make me forget myself.
When you're in this position drugs are the only escape. I wanted to get away from my thoughts, I couldn't face reality. When I needed to earn some cash for gear I used to sit under the subway night after night, week after week - begging for money.
I gradually started smoking more and more heroin - it gets you like that. As my usage increased, I realised injecting was far cheaper, that's when I made the giant leap. Soon I had to do more and more. When you start finding out you are dependent on it you see your chances of overdosing are high. Mind you, at that point I'd got myself into the mindset of 'let it happen, I don't care'.
| ||One day I met Alice Macgregor, an outreach worker, who told me about an NCHA project 'All Saints'. When Alice told me I'd been accepted I was overwhelmed. As soon as I arrived I had a bath (long overdue) a shave (even longer-overdue) and got rid of the body lice I'd acquired during my time on the streets. |
On my first day I met my support worker, Sandra. She's still my support worker now, well over five years later. She helped me each step of the way with filling in forms, Social Security grants for clothing and an application for the Ley Community, a rehab centre in Oxford.
Sandra took me to Double Impact, a drug and alcohol centre where you can have tea, chat and use the gym. It gives you something to do to change your routine, and changing routine is necessary in order to keep off the drugs. It's a place which links you up with people. It's the best place I've ever come across.
If I had not met all those people I would not be here today. Unfortunately it's not the same anymore. Different people are running it in a different way.
Alice and the team at All Saints gave me structure, self worth, self respect and a purpose. I was put on an anti depressant/anti psychotic medication. I was still not sure I was doing the right thing by getting well. Alice came to see me each week. I saw my support worker on a daily basis. They worked with me and more and more I saw the value in wanting to be here.
Next I went to Wells Road and detoxed. Then I went to the Lay Community for eight months. When I came out I moved back in to All Saints and I was clean. I enrolled in college and did a course called Gear Change. During the course I started to do some talks voluntarily. I find it very rewarding.
I met a guy at one of my talks. He told me how he was totally blown away by my story. He said Nottinghamshire County Drug and Action Team were funding a film and wanted to use my story in part of the documentary. I spoke to the scriptwriters and they used actors to play my part. I went to the premiere at the Broadway Cinema.
Watching the film I felt very raw and open. I felt anger for letting myself go as low as I did. I also felt very proud to be helping the employers see that we are better people and worth employing today. If only employers could take the time to come and watch the film, it would be better for all concerned.
They say drug and alcohol abuse is a disease. I say it's a dis-ease - you are not at ease with yourself. I enjoy doing these talks to people who are having problems and to the people who look after those with problems. I want people to think, if he can do it so can I. At the minute I'm looking into the possibilities of doing some training courses with staff at NCHA.
My main goal now is to get a job and build up a comfortable happy home life. If I can give one person hope it would make me feel better for all the pain I've caused. I know I've been wrong in the past but I'm not wrong now.