My story (Part 2) - by Olive (13/02/14)

The second part of Olives's story focuses on what she has done to make changes: including her making contact with our services, undertaking withdrawal at Curran Place and commencing with the Catalyst program.  Unfortunately, her story also highlights how difficult many people find it to get help when they need it most.  It provides an important reminder to service providers of the importance of getting the basics right: treat people with respect, provide a welcoming environment and (most importantly) listen to what they are saying. 

I thought that admitting I had an addiction was the most difficult thing to do. I was wrong. Finding help or someone who would listen without judgement indeed was...


 

Note: Olive has now started her own blog: 'Confessions of a Recovering Alcoholic'. Check it out.

I thought that admitting I had an addiction was the most difficult thing to do. I was wrong. Finding help or someone who would listen without judgement indeed was.

I approached my GP first, who's advice was to go for a walk when I had a craving. Unfortunately, the local liquor store was conveniently one hundred metres away and inevitably I would walk past and stop to purchase more alcohol. It was an endless circle I desperately wanted to end. Then I approached the local alcohol and drug worker who insisted I did not have a problem. This in turn led me to drinking even more and spiralling out of control. My psychologist was at a loss and wasn't sure what to suggest to me so I left my sessions unfulfilled and frustrated. I felt let down by the medical professionals who professed they were there to help me, only to push me over the edge when I was at most vulnerable.

Endless stints at hospital did not help either. A few hours later I would be released and told I needed to cut back on my drinking but no guidance or advice was given. Only a sneer was given upon my release and pitying looks to my partner who would come to collect me yet again. So I would venture home and continue the perpetual cycle of drinking yet again.

Finally, I found a GP who would listen. Researching all the options he found out about ReGen and suggested I pay a visit to see if the program would suit me. I finally met a counsellor at ReGen who would listen with no judgement and offer practical advice. I felt safe enough to be honest with both myself and the counsellor. Unfortunately it wasn't enough. My past was catching up to me and my personal life was spiralling out of control.

It all happened so quickly. My counsellor was away on holidays and two weeks later I felt my life was taking another dark turn. I decided to end my life with excessive consumption of alcohol and pills. Then I realised it was a cry for help and had enough strength to call the ambulance. There was a sense of disbelief amongst the hospital staff, who were shocked I could breathe let alone speak coherently. I was apparently close to ten times over the legal limit and a person with such extreme blood alcohol levels should be either dead or at least comatose. This time I was grateful I was in hospital as finally someone listened and took action. There was no judgement and the question was finally asked ‘How can we help you get better?’. Within forty eight hours I commenced my stay at a detox facility and given a kind ear and support that I had been craving for for so long.

Nerves were playing havoc with me when I entered the facility and a sense of dread had overcome me. My thoughts were racing and there were a few fleeting moments when I wanted to walk out the door, never to return. I stayed. Upon entering, it almost felt like I was going to a hotel. A nurse explained the facilities to me which included my own room and bathroom. Healthy food was in abundance in the kitchen and a gorgeous garden awaited me with a token bunny rabbit, a bird and two chickens who actually lay eggs. I was told to relax as my body was still in the process of detoxing however I decided to jump right into the activities provided. I did not regret it.

There was so much to learn and the yoga was the most soothing and relaxing part of the day. The muscles that had ached for years no longer did and my mind felt clear for the first time in five years. I spent nights not sleeping however that was a blessing as I picked up drawing again, a hobby I discarded after my mother told me I was useless and should give up. There was a realisation that just because I enjoyed abstract work, it did not mean I was a poor artist.

Ten days went by quickly, friendships were formed and my mind was clearer day by day. It was a sad yet excited farewell. Trepidatious, I made my way home to face the disaster I left behind, spending my first day home cleaning and wondering how I stooped so low. The extent of my drinking dawned on me when I managed to fill my recycling bin within a space of ten minutes.

I was on a natural high and nothing could stop me. This all ended three weeks later when I hit a wall and reality sunk in. Whether I did too much or my depression sunk in, I am uncertain. A lapse follow twice thereafter however it never felt the same as when I drank constantly. Shame and guilt sunk in, however somehow I managed to realise that I am only human and mistakes will occur. Ultimately, it is how we as humans learn best.

Starting the Catalyst program at ReGen this week has given me that new lease on life I desperately craved. I have met interesting people who are vastly intelligent yet fell into the trap of trying to escape and mask the pain of the past or the present. It has been difficult to concentrate with my brain still in a broken puzzle state however I am attending all the classes and making the most of all the information and support on offer. So far I have been able to establish the reasons for my drinking and also coping strategies so I don't feel the need to drink when I want to hide from the world. We are treated to beautiful fresh food daily and I just managed to have a delicious BBQ, reminiscing in the sun and wondering where I would be had it not been from the help of the hospital staff and the support of ReGen who supported me and believed me despite my own mind and soul doubting I had any strength to bear.

My battle with addiction is far from over, the journey has only commenced. The difference is I am not alone in this journey and now have self belief this can be done. The future is looking bright yet again. Most of all, there is hope.

 

Note: Olive has now started her own blog: 'Confessions of a Recovering Alcoholic'. Check it out.