“I can start to trust again and see how people can care for one another. I feel respected. I feel like a human being again.”
I had to fend for myself when I was young. I had 5 sisters and 3 brothers. I was neglected a lot. Mum remarried 4 times. My stepdad was an alcoholic and brought drugs such as crack cocaine into the house.
At about age 6, I started hearing voices. As I grew older the voices increased and I began shouting at them because they all said horrible things to me.
I found my stepdad’s drugs and took them when he wasn’t there. I started drinking and smoking cannabis at 9 years old. It became a habit and by the time I was a teenager I was hooked.
“It was really a cry for help. It helped me block out the noise – block out the pain.”
As an adult, I got into the pub trade and worked really hard to gain qualifications. But my drinking had got worse, and although people tried to help me, I felt I couldn’t cope without it. I was signed off work with depression and anxiety, and eventually I was sacked. I couldn’t pay my rent and bailiffs knocked on my door telling me I had 20 minutes to get my belongings and leave.
I had a partner who was still working but it wasn’t enough to pay for our own place. For the next three years we sofa-surfed, slept in car parks, stairwells, a church graveyard. We slept wherever we could. If we didn’t have money, we just wouldn’t eat.
We got a tent and put it up in the woods. We were there for 18 months. One day Bex and John (Turning Tides Outreach Workers) found us and offered help. We saw Bex regularly and after a few visits I told her I really wanted to come off the drink. She told me about Turning Tides’ Recovery service.
I started Recovery in 2020. I am not going to lie – giving up was really hard. But they welcomed me with open arms, supported me every step of the way.
“I have a keyworker who made a specific plan for me – it has been a real godsend.”
I am now seeing a psychiatrist regularly too, and Turning Tides arranged medical help for a hole in my heart. Thankfully, I can take medication for my depression now, because I am free from alcohol.
I can see a plan ahead of me now. I see every step as part of a journey. Me asking for help from Bex when I lived in the woods was the first step of that journey – to the top of a mountain.
“When I get to the top of the mountain I will shout at the top of my lungs “thank you” to everyone that has helped me.”
At times in my life, I have had no one to help me – but through Turning Tides I have changed such a lot. I can start to trust again and see how people can care for one another. I feel respected. I feel like a human being again.