Learning to understand my behaviour, and love myself again - by John (14/12/16)


Our thanks to John for sharing his story and his experience of our Catalyst program.  If you would like to share your experience with other people considering whether or not to use our services, we'd love to hear from you.


I’ve had anxiety all my life. A lot of social anxiety, never feeling like I fit in, low self-esteem.

When I was offered pot, I suddenly felt like one of the cool kids and when I tried it, it was amazing. It made me feel good and there was a social element, I was part of something. I was 15 and that was a big deal, but it slowly crept in.

I started smoking on my own, I started using other drugs. By the time I was 16, I was using Ice, heroin and things like that. It gave me an identity to be part of it, I was almost proud of my using. Then things started getting out of my control. I finished year 12, but I had to move out of home, I lost my job and my anxiety started getting a lot worse.

I managed to get off Ice by myself. I thought, ‘that’s it, I’m done’, but just ended up shifting to prescription medications to manage my anxiety. I was back working, but I was using by myself again. I’d knock off and go straight home for a handful of pills and a four-pack of Woodstocks.

It got really severe and I realised I couldn’t do it by myself. With the amount of benzos I was using, I would have had seizures if I’d just stopped taking them. That’s when I first got introduced to this place. I called Directline and they put me onto your service in Footscray.

I started seeing Cameron for counselling. He was really non-judgemental and it really helped to be able to lay all my cards on the table and look at the options that were going to work best for me. I decided my goal needed to be total abstinence. The drugs really weren’t working for me, I just felt like a walking zombie.

I quit my job (I was probably about to get fired anyway) and checked into [private rehab]. I came out, again thinking, ‘That’s it. I’ve got it sorted’, but it just wasn’t working for me. I’d come out, relapse and go back in. I’ve been back to [private rehab] five times in the past year and a half. I could stay sober longer each time, but it didn’t feel like I was getting any further.

I’d been keeping in touch with Cameron and he suggested the Catalyst program. I thought, ‘What have I got to lose?’ so I went and did another detox before starting the program. I’d started going to the gym and doing meditation, to help deal with my anxiety and Cameron help me prepare.

When I started Catalyst, I was thinking, ‘What am I going to learn here? I’ve done rehab so many times already. How’s it going to be any different?’ But it’s been amazing. I’d never done CBT before, but it’s relevant to everyday life. You get to practice what you’ve learned each night when you go home and you can use it everywhere to challenge your thinking patterns. You start to realise why you’ve been doing the things you have.

It’s a real holistic approach: the nutrition, the yoga, the art therapy, the drumming. Everyone who comes in believes in what they do. It’s inspiring and it’s fun and it makes you want to keep coming back. There are the supports when you finish too. They don’t just kick you out on the street.

This is the best I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m apprehensive, but I’m waking up with a smile on my face and I feel like there’s a real plan for what happens next.