What was your Shirley Moment?

I watched Shirley valentine over Christmas; it was a welcome distraction from the boredom that comes in between Christmas Day and New Year, I laughed at her talking to the wall because I realised that used to me!

I’ve always questioned everything; even as a kid, although I rarely voiced any of it because it got me into trouble when I did it. Unlike Shirley, I didn’t talk to the wall. Instead, I would swallow them, many of them unanswered to the back of my mind. Brought up in a working-class family on an estate called Gleadless Valley, the main priority for my mum and stepdad at that time was ensuring that there was food on the table whilst my Dad was preoccupied with chasing skirt or drinking with his mates. I had many unanswered questions. 

I’d hated being a kid for years, back then life was unfair. I craved for adulthood so that I could reach the age to demand answers to all my questions. And yet when it came, I realised I wasn’t ready for it, and still the answers never came. 

Aged sixteen and pregnant, and unlike my other friends who at the time were figuring out who they were, partying and carving a career out for themselves, where as my life had already been mapped out. God did I envy their freedom.

Like Shirley, in the film there were many a day I would privately reminisce about my childhood days and wonder where I went wrong, I felt insignificant, I had nothing to offer, and yet deep down I knew that there was more to life. The only shit part was I could never work out what it was and more importantly, how to find it. There was always something missing, and then I found drugs.

I got to the point when I had stopped questioning, sick of waiting for the wall to answer back, I reckon! So instead, I’d dutifully conformed and started to play along with the charade commonly know as life. It wasn’t until I found myself sat in a hospital ward in Middlewood hospital a few years later. Admitted with drug induced psychosis that I realised that I was well and truly fucked. I would potter around the ward and listen to other patient’s stories, many had given up, but I wasn’t ready to give up, not yet.

It’s fair to say I did a hell of a lot of thinking in Middlewood, fuck me there wasn’t much else to do!  

I shared and offloaded my thoughts and feelings with the staff. I realised how much I had been bottling up and that had been the first time I had acknowledged my thoughts and feelings, let alone deal with them.

For years I’d expected everyone else to be able to answer all my questions for me, but soon realised that most of the questions could only be answered by myself. But first, I needed to listen to what was being asked? and instead of questioning my thoughts and feelings, I learned to sit with them, listen, really listen, and have a #properwordwimesen Questions like

Why doesn’t anyone love me? turned into “Why don’t you love yourself?Or “Why do people treat me like shit?” – turned into “Why do you let people treat you like shit?” or the most frequently asked question was “There has got to be more to life” turned into “What do YOU want from life?” and I realised there and then,  I had never really asked myself before.

Since leaving Middlewood, life hasn’t been easy, and I continue and still make mistakes, the difference this time though is  I will question the mistakes and examine the role “I” played in the mistakes instead of blaming everyone else.

I still have days when life gets in the way, when it gets on top, I feel disillusioned, scared but have have worked out that when this happens it’s generally because I have allowed life, the news, social media distract me from myself. So when this happens, I make some time and take some responsibility to #Haveawordwimesen

Often I find going for a walk, reading a good book or offloading my thoughts down in a journal helps me give me head a wobble. Doing this alone helps remind me to save some of the compassion I fine myself freely giving to others, to saving some back for myself. Sometimes I even go back to the fundamental questions I asked myself years ago in Middlewood Hospital.

“There’s got to be more to life.” 

Another thing that has helped over the years has been surrounding myself with people who have faith in me, especially when I had little in myself. Over the years, I have learned that I choose who I allow in my life and can now tell the difference between those who support me instead of exploiting me.

Find your tribe –the people who are on the same page as you. And remember that if it turns out that they are not on the same page, you can always end the chapter or start a new fucking book.

Learning to, listen to trust and have faith in yourself isn’t always easy, but it is achievable if you put in the effort. Working on yourself isn’t like a regular nine to five job, it’s a full time one. And listen its ok to have a break once in a while or to have a “fuck it moment!” but remember you can always go back to the basics and remember all the answers you need are in you.

I still don’t know if Shirley ever stayed in Greece or returned to the UK. I suppose it doesn’t matter, what matters is that after years of feeling lost, she finally found herself and realised she was worth more. Ps, if you haven’t seen Shirley Valentine before or haven’t watched it for a while, I recommend you do.

The End

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up for emails.

 Oh, and If you liked this post please share it on social media and with friends – and if you didn’t like it then do nothing that’s ok too

Much Love 

Fordy x

A Christmas Recovery Tale

This recovery journey started on 3rd of December 2015 when I received a private message via Facebook…

“Hi Tracey, its Adam Holmes, hope u don’t mind me massaging I just had my interview at Arc house yesterday been accepted just waiting to do my methadone detox on Burbidge I’ve been four weeks on Saturday off illicit drugs so I’m buzzing with that hope ur good take care, adam x”

I was well chuffed to hear from him I knew Adam way back in the day, 20 years when I was his first Keyworker at a day rehabilitation centre Kickstart. Since then, I have followed his journey, including the highs and lows, including being street homeless and spells in prison. This time though there was something different, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, it was still and still is one of my favourite and most inspiring recovery stories.

I’d spoken to him on the phone, and he was both excited and anxious about recovery worrying about whether or not he’d fail again, but I tried to remind him of all the times he’s succeeded too. At the time, Adam had been posting and updating his progress on Facebook before going into rehab. I still recall reading his daily post and was so inspired that I’d decided to collect them all and give it to him once he’d completed rehab to remind him of how far he’s come. Today, five years later, the original post popped up on my timeline. I’d mentioned it to Adam, who had since changed his Facebook profile, so I have pulled it together again, not just for him, but also for anyone else who it might help.

1st December

  • I’m in town later to pick my train tickets up later on to go Scarborough tomorrow at Arc House anyone wanna meet for a coffee or something to eat my appetite is back with a vengeance lol. it I’ll be wanting to lose my belly wen get too much weight on hahaha
  • Just been reading my just for today n the last bit so right, just for today I will keep my priorities in order, number one on the list is my recovery

2nd December

  • Just got on my train guys I missed one that was going straight through to Scarborough but I’m on my way now gonna av a good day nothing can put me on a downer today got my literature so a good read
  • I’m buzzing, just been to arc house they’re gonna get in touch with my social worker and offer me a place so just waiting to get into hospital now and to rehome mollie my dog bless her

4th December

  • Just been in cathedral said prayer n sat down for 10 min gives me some peace to my mind n soul

5th December

  • Morning everyone how’s everybody today our mollie is going crazy playing lol shopping day today I hate today payday. Oh, and I can’t forget it’s four weeks today clean off illicit drug buzzzzzzinnnnnn naturally

6th December

  • Just not long been out of bath had a rite soak n let all the stresses just float away smile I’m on ball today first time in years.
  • First day in along long time I’ve forgotten to take my meds wow
  • Just got back home from town I’ve never seen it as quiet nipped into cathedral and said a prayer to keep me safe and clean just for today it’s so peaceful in there give u time to think as well away from the madness lol
  • Bed for me guys see ya all Tuesday peace n love to you all and needed tonight’s meeting got some good old honesty it woz raw but needed it thanks for support

7th December

  • Morning everybody how’s people today I soo can’t wait till tomorrow’s meeting I can’t miss any till I go treatment not long now whoop whoooooop lol

11th December

  • Is chilling avin a coffee listening to some pink floyd before meeting it’s all good stuff

12th December

  • Just got to Addaction loads early n soaked through lol
  • Goodnight all and thanks for a great meeting see u all tomorrow smile emoticon peace n love

13th December

Thanks everyone for an awesome meeting always enjoy the fellowship some great friends love n peace, Adam

14th December

  • Just started my step one didn’t know I cud write that quickly without thinking about it powerful stuff step 1 hope to c u all tomorrow nite nite all early one for me
  • Soooooo bored today can’t wait for meeting tomorrow

15th December

  • Morning everyone just on way to see my social worker for last time before I go in Burbidge on Monday can’t wait n also cut my meds down again today, I’ve never been more ready as I am now
  • Awesome meeting tonight I’ve never seen it as busy roll on tomorrow but for now nitey nite everyone sleep well

16th December

  • Complacency is the enemy of members with substantial clean time. If we remain complacent for long, the recovery process ceases.” Basic Text p. 80 Recognising complacency in our recovery is like seeing smoke in a room. The “smoke” thickens when our meeting attendance drops, contact with newcomers decreases, or relations with our sponsor aren’t maintained. With continued complacency; we won’t be able to see through the smoke to find our way out. Only our immediate response will prevent an inferno. We must learn to recognize the smoke of complacency. In NA, we have all the help we need to do that. We need to spend time with other recovering addicts because they may detect our complacency before we do. Newcomers will remind us of how painful active addiction can be. Our sponsor will help us remain focused, and recovery literature kept in easy reach can be used to extinguish the small flare-ups that happen from time to time. Regular participation in our recovery will surely enable us to see that wisp of smoke long before it becomes a major inferno. Just for today: I will participate in the full range of my recovery; my commitment to NA is just as strong today as it was in the beginning of my recovery.

17th December

  • Had a great meeting n brought quite a bit to share but I really needed it off to bed after my coffee getting rite nervous n everything else for Monday. But I can’t wait just to get there
  • In library working on my step one I needed the peace n quiet to concentrate it’s proper head mashing but issues I need to work through just done question three wow about been obsessed with something believe I’m like a cd stuck on repeat n play lol
  • Everything that occurs in the course of NA service must be motivated by the desire to more successfully carry the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers.” Basic Text p. xvi Our motives are often a surprise to us. In our early days of recovery, they were almost always a surprise! We’ve learned to check our motives through prayer, meditation, the steps, and talking to our sponsor or other addicts. When we find ourselves with an especially strong urge to do or have something, it’s particularly important to check our motives to find out what we really want. In early recovery, many of us throw ourselves into service with great fervor before we have started the regular practice of motive-checking. It takes a while before we become aware of the real reasons for our zeal. We may want to impress others, show off our talents, or be recognized and important. Now, these desires may not be harmful in another setting, expressed through another outlet. In NA service, however, they can do serious damage. When we decide to serve NA, we make a decision to help addicts find and maintain recovery. We have to carefully check our motives in service, remembering that it’s much easier to frighten away using addicts than to convince them to stay. When we show them game-playing, manipulation, or pomposity, we present an unattractive picture of recovery; however, the unselfish desire to serve others creates an atmosphere that is attractive to the addict who still suffers. Just for today: I will check my motives for the true spirit of service.

18th December

  • Good morning everyone wot a brilliant day to be clean still shocked the fact it’s first one since I was 14 can’t believe it wow lol
  • Just read just for today I love it “just for today I will share my recovery in an N.A meeting”
  • I think that’s brilliant to share your journey with other addicts n friends just to be able to throw everything out ya mouth n leave it in that room
  • Thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes I’ve never been as popular in one day hahahaha

19th December

  • Anyone want to meet in town for a coffee my dog is going in foster today not an happy chappy but I know I’ve got to, get myself better but doesn’t mean to say it’s done my head in n been paid today
  • Just bought myself my birthday present buzzing blue addidas bottoms n blue trainers I love buying clothes wouldn’t of dreamt of it two month ago lol
  • Thought meeting woz at 7:30 just been told it 5:30 so I’m walking like a nutter on a mission lol

20th December

  • Well, that’s my bags packed n done just waiting for our mollie to go into foster care
  • I best set a reminder to turn my electric off in morning or wen I’m back in six months I’ll av a rite electric bill lol
  • Took my last bottle of medication today – my journey begins

21st December

  • Morning everyone I’m ready to go Burbidge just waiting on foster carer to ring for mollie now just took her out for last walk.
  • Mollie just gone never thought it cud hurt so much wow
  • I wanted to get to hospital early but come on a hour n three quarters early wow eager beaver lol that’s how much I can’t wait to get in there
  • I’ve never eaten so much pie chips n peas n had seconds now I’m on my pudding I’m gonna come out of ere a rite pie muncher lol its all good
  • They just done my medical on ward wen they wired me up to ecg machine that many wires I woz getting weary thinking is this an electric chair lol
  • Visiting times are half four till eight and on weekends n xmas, boxing days is 10 til 8:30 it’s just that got asked
  • I’m rite happy now thank u Raff Latif for coming n seeing me that’s just made my day wow I’ve never had visitors ere n it just makes it a lot easier bloody hell got tears
  • I can’t believe they av messed my medication up already just gone to get my lefexadine it woz on computer earlier now there is, no meds wot so ever down for me how incompetent r they?
  • I’ve got my card put up where I can see it what all of my new family signed thank u all

22nd December

  • Morning everyone doing great so far
  • I know I’ve got it all to come so taking advantage of being well at the minute eating loads it’s the first time in ages I’ve had three meals in 1 day I’ll put weight on in ere I know that much, they are sorting my meds out this morning I cut down to 15ml today 10ml tomorrow then 5ml day after then none Im gonna be raw as f##k lol won’t be laughing then lol
  • Just had my dinner and also cherry pie with custard I’m that stuffed gonna av an hour or two while I still can n still feel ok lol talk to ya all later, also I got chance to hospital chapel earlier got given a bible and a cross my higher power is watching over me and keeping me well and healthy peace n love to you all take care

23rd December

  • Thank u soooooo much Bradley it woz great seeing u my brother and passed on loads of time we had a rite good chat cheers mate and sending all my love out to everyone of my friends and my n.a family av a great meeting tonight, love n peace, adam
  • Just had my first lefexadine tablet I woz riding it out best a cud but I don’t need to I’ll be glad wen all the meds av stopped I can’t wait but it like that saying don’t run before ya can walk I just get to eager n wanna get things done remember adam just for today n.a has taught me soooooo much which I’m glad for I’m ready to surrender myself and start from ground n work my way up I’ve got that much to learn everything I’ve missed from age 14 to 43 wow.

24th December

  • Its late morning and I’ve slept all way through I had awesome sleep mind u that woz with meds but it worked lol I cut to 10ml today 10ml in two days wow but I start my lefexadine today
  • I’m soooooo shocked of how many people are giving me support it feels great n it’s the rite time for me as well I’ll never forget what ya all av done for me by just been there or just a few words, that can change how u feel from sad to happy n it makes a world of difference I will always be ere to give the same help and support for everyone if needed all my love peace from my heart.

This is as far as I got, but fast forward to 2020. I can tell you Adam never used the train tickets to get to Scarborough a few of his recovery Buddies Mick, Raff and Lee had offered to drive him directly to rehab in case he tried absconding or tried scoring for the last time.

Adam came out of rehab in July 2016, and whilst it hasn’t always been easy, he is still clean to this day. He went into supported accommodation when he returned to Sheffield and now has his place on the Manor. Adam had previously had periods of separation from his only daughter, Leah Jade, but since he started his recovery journey, their relationship has gone from strength to strength. He was beaming the other day about her going to university and how he couldn’t be prouder.

An ambassador for recovery he helped support Sheffield Recovery Community to help raise awareness about addiction and recovery by sharing his story (read here/what here) He’d also completed the Sheffield Ambassador scheme and volunteered for a while with Kickback Recovery before starting as a volunteer coach at De hood. Earlier this year, he helped set a new recovery support group up there.  

I know Christmas is literally around the corner but significant dates don’t count in recovery what counts is that one more day clean. I have put some links below, some sources of support, but in the meantime i just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and lets SMASH 2021.

Love Fordy x

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up for emails.

 Oh, and If you liked the post please share it on social media and with friends  – and if you didn’t like it then do nothing that’s ok too

 

Adams story is just one of many recovery stories, proof that we can recover – to read some more go to https://sheffielddact.org.uk/drugs-alcohol/help-and-support/success-stories/

If you are struggling over the festive period, please don’t suffer alone, reach out https://sheffielddact.org.uk/drugs-alcohol/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/12/online-recovery-V5.pdf

 

If you thought living with someone misusing substances is tough, spare a thought for those who have lost someone to substance abuse.

According to statistics, up to three people are adversely affected by one person’s substance misuse. But I know it is far more. It’s been over fifteen years since I lost my father to alcoholism, and it still affects me to this day.

It is especially hard when I hear about another person, someone I know who has passed either as a direct result of misusing substances or due to fragile mental health as a consequence of substance misuse.  Yesterday, i heard the sad news that someone else I met, who’d successfully completed rehab, who when the last time I’d seen him, he seemed so positive, but has now passed away.

That’s five people now this year who have died this year alone. After overcoming the shock, my thoughts and heart always go out to their families and the loved ones left behind. We cannot ever underestimate the trauma that the families and friends are still left with after a loved one has passed. Hence my motivation to write this blog.

Often it can feel like a double bereavement. 

It isn’t uncommon for families and loved ones to go through the grieving process whilst their loved one is still alive. I lived with the anticipation of death way before Dad finally passed. He wasn’t the Dad that I recognised; He’d changed so much it was hard to remember what he was like before. I’d grieved over lost hopes and expectations that he would never truly appreciate what it would be like to have a peaceful mind or get to see his grandkids grow into adults. The missed opportunities were endless. 

Coming to terms with the way someone died 

Somehow it can be easier to accept death when someone has passed after a long or fulfilled life. However, the stigma associated with addiction can make coming to terms with the circumstances of death even harder, than say losing a loved one to cancer or in a tragic accident. The additional fear of judgement can often leave families, loved ones feeling isolated, stigmatised or that somehow your situation is less valid than that of other bereaved people. 

I vividly remember being given the option by the GP who was preparing Dads death certificate whether or not I wanted the cause of death being pneumonia or alcohol. Given a choice, I wouldn’t have chosen either, but I had insisted on the latter. Whilst I didn’t want my Dad to become a statistic, I didn’t want his death caused by alcohol to be in vain. His death wasn’t a peaceful one, far from it, it was slow and painful. He endured both physical and mental torture, and as I have mentioned in previous blogs if he’d have had the chance to end his days differently or sooner i suspect he would have. 

Whilst there may be similarities, substance misuse impacts/affects both the users and families and loved ones differently. Addiction isn’t like treating a fracture, where the break can be located and fixed by a cast. Some families live with the uncertainly of never knowing how who or where the rupture took place, and if they did, they would have moved heaven and earth to help fix it. The feeling of powerlessness can be overwhelming at times and is even harder to bear with so many unanswered questions. 

Fifteen years ago, there wasn’t as much support for families like me. Through writing this book, I have come across some excellent resources that I wanted to share with you, in the hope that if you know someone who has lost a loved one either directly or indirectly to substance misuse that you could guide them in the right direction (see below) 

In the mean time RIP to all those lost souls and to the loved ones left behind.

Love Fordy x

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up for emails.

 Oh, and If you liked the post please share it on social media and with friends  – and if you didn’t like it then do nothing that’s ok too

Sources of support 

Adfam was founded in 1984 by the parent of a heroin addict who could not find the support they needed. Overt the past 34 years they have evolved from a small support group into the national infrastructure body working to improve life for families affected by drugs and alcohol use.

Bereavement Through Addiction Provides support groups, a helpline and an annual memorial service in Bristol.

Drugfam offers a telephone bereavement helpline and other sources of support

Survivors Of Bereavement by Suicide (formerly SOBS) Exists to meet the needs and break the isolation of those bereaved by the suicide of a close relative or friend National Helpline: 0844 561 6855, 9am to 9pm every day

Grandparents Plus is the national charity which champions the vital role of grandparents and the wider family in children’s lives – especially when they take on the caring role in difficult family circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book & Life Update

 

Well, it’s been a fucking crazy year hasn’t it? who would have thought this time last year, some of us would be having to self-isolate at home and especially over Christmas. I however, have found myself embracing the change if I’m honest, COVID has provided me with some much needed ‘time to think’ and has made me realise more than I did before just what’s really important in life.

During COVID I got involved in helping to set up an online support group for families, there are a few of us, who are volunteering to help facilitate the group, being involved has helped remind me about how important it is to recognise the support needs of families and friends affected by addiction.

Best of all the time that would normally have been spent travelling into work on the bus had been replaced with writing time and with the help of the ‘Monday morning Motivation’ writing group run by Beverly Ward  and weekly coaching sessions I finally feel like I am making some progress.

I am nearly halfway through the book, it hasn’t always been easy, but I HAVE found it therapeutic, I am still amazed about how much more there is to learn about myself and how I approach life in general. The book is about two peoples journeys of addiction, mine and my Dads

I thought I would share with you the part of the story. I am at the part of the story when I am starting to really realise that Dad has got a problem with the drink and it’s the start of a journey, I never thought I would be embarking on. I wanted to pay homage in this post to all the families and friends affected by addiction and to also encourage others who find themselves in similar situations to reach out for help, I have also included a link to the video that was made. *Please note this is a draft and will go through another edit*

Continue reading “Book & Life Update”

Christmas is coming… Check yourself before you wreck yourself

People look forward or dread Christmas day for many reasons, it  can  be an opportunity for relaxing or relapsing – you decide

A Christmas Poem – By Fordy

The pressure of family expectations.

The awkward conversations with family members you speak to only once a year,

Worrying about money, the money you haven’t got.

A chance to compete with the neighbours

Check out who’s lights are the most outrageous.

To pretend that Father Christmas existed.

Time for Santa’s elves to get mischievous

For some, it’s to celebrate Jesus.

An excuse for the stretchy pants and to get ready to stuff their faces

To attend midnight mass.

To reflect on Christmas past.

Remember a loved one whose been laid to rest.

Or to put Jamie Oliver’s recipe to the test.

To get pissed and forget about life.

Take a day off from the worry and strife.

A chance to wallow in self-pity

Tell a joke from the Christmas cracker and pretend to be witty.

A chance to tell someone you love that you care

Or a time to envy others and compare

The time of year to get everyone together

Moan about the weather

The lack of snow, ya remember all that white stuff we used to get years ago.

For some, it’s a much-needed day off work.

For others, it’s just another money-making machine.

Or the shops have closed a chance to save some cash.

Then there are ones who get up early in preparation for the boxing day money saving dash

However, you see Christmas day, regardless of previous rituals that have been encouraged over your lifetime, remember Christmas can be about anything you want it to be

CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

You decide if your previous Christmas revolved around any of the above. You didn’t like them – this is your chance to make Christmas about whatever YOU want it to be – I’m not suggesting you take the fun out of Christmas, but it’s also not an excuse to say ‘fuck it’ this time only comes around once a year and give yourself a day off. It’s another day, how you interpret it will dictate and shape whether or not this year will be a negative or a positive experience.

There is no right or wrong, but you do get to decide.

Happy Fucking Christmas

Love Fordy

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up for emails. Oh and If you liked the post please share it with others – and if you don’t then do nothing that’s ok too 

Is giving up simply an excuse for not trying hard enough?

 

 

This has just popped up on my memories, I came across it four years ago Alcoholic, 41, given a lethal injection because he saw death as his only option. I still remember how the article unsettled me at the time, I even shared the post posting ‘I’m on the fence with this one’. However, after hours and hours of writing since first coming across the article, I now know why it unsettled me so much – So here is me pushing my ass off the fence.

 

Mark Langedijk’s life had become ‘a hopeless cocktail of pain, drink, loneliness and sorrow’ His sister Linda talked in the article about how after multiple attempts to get clean, his brother had, had enough. He had given up.

 

I could empathise with Marks story and his sister Linda, and it saddened me that Mark felt that euthanasia was his only way out. But what angered me the most was the quote from the MP Fiona Bruce, co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, who said ‘This news is deeply concerning and yet another reason why assisted suicide and euthanasia must never be introduced into the UK. What someone suffering from alcoholism needs is support and treatment to get better from their addiction – which can be provided and should not be euthanised. 

 

‘What someone suffering from alcoholism needs is support and treatment to get better from their addiction.’

 

I re-read it and re-read it, for me that line implies that there is always a solution or that Alcoholism can alway’s be fixed and I was incensed. My Dad was already committing slow suicide, we knew it, and towards the end, he did too, and I’m sure if he had the option, he might have taken the same route. He would often remark ‘they wouldn’t let an animal suffer like this’ every time he was released from another hospital admission. His wasn’t a life. It had become a constant cycle of being admitted into a hospital, going through painful supervised detox’s, only for him to be released, each time his body becoming frailer. He was a quarter of the man he was two years earlier; trust me this wasn’t a life. 

 

Drinking is like playing Russian roulette, and nobody ‘really’ knows where that often invisible ‘fine line’ is. I don’t know when things changed for Dad. Who once used to enjoy a social drink to swapping his usual morning mug of builder’s tea to drinking a mouthful of Jack Daniels from his tumbler which would often make him wince, especially when his lips were cracked from dehydration?

 

I cannot pinpoint the time when there seemed to be no turning back for Dad? I’d overcome my addiction demons; I’d been working in the substance misuse field for over 15 years. Some amazing recovery stories surrounded me, people who had overcome some past severe trauma and overcome, why couldn’t Dad be like them?

 

She mentions treatment and support, Christ. It wasn’t like we didn’t try; I’d tried and failed on endless occasions to get Dad to services. I had wanted to get him to meet other people who had suffered from addiction and were now coping, hoping that it would help inspire him, show him that there was more to life than the bottle of fucking Jack Daniels. But he would point blank refuse, claiming he wasn’t an alcoholic. This is the same guy who wouldn’t take paracetamol because it wasn’t good for his Liver, whilst at the same time drinking his beloved poison.

 

Only the other day, my sister and I had been reminiscing about just how bad Alcohol had taken over Dad. We also talked about someone else we both knew who had recently lost custody of her kids all because of her drinking. She was deemed incapable of caring for her kids because of her alcohol-induced actions, which was sad because we both know that she loves her kids dearly. Some people would say she must love to drink more than her kids? I know I often wondered the same about Dad? Did he love to drink more than he loved us? Or if he really loved us, he would stop putting us through this endless pain. But the sad part was he’d fallen out of love with himself? I have often wondered if he ever loved himself.

 

I know the cycle of change well, pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and finally maintenance. Fuck me I’d been around the loop me sen a few times and so had Dad. Still, at some point, after endless relapses, he stayed stuck there. He got stuck at what uncommonly known as End-stage Alcoholism.  This is the point where the Alcoholic is experiences severe health and mental issues and a higher risk of death. I never gave up on Dad, I held onto the only slither of what hope I had right up until the end, but the reality was that Dad had given up on himself and there wasn’t fuck all I could do about it.

 

I am an eternal optimist, always have been and always will be, I firmly believe that there is still hope, but I also believe that we don’t always get what we want #Shithappens and sometimes we have to learn to accept #Shithappens and let go.

 

Now before anyone gets this twisted, I am NOT advocating that we should be encouraging euthanasia NOR am I saying we should NEVER give up on ourselves or our loved ones suffering from addiction. But what I am saying is we should never judge another person’s personal decision everyone regardless of who they are has the right to choose how and when they decide enough is enough.

 

RIP Mark Langedijk

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

How’s your resilience bank account looking

I always had a voice and an opinion, but I rarely voiced it, you see I grew up at a time surrounded with messages such as “kids should be seen and not heard” or “ya made ya bed now in it”. Emotions and feelings were either black or white, there was no room for any shadiness. Another phrase that would particularly piss me off was “you should always respect your elders” like their age was the only thing that qualified them as being wiser or more knowledgeable, which was bullshit!

  • Years ago, I used drugs to numb my emotions because I was so scared of how they made me feel.
  • I would avoid trying something new out of fear that I might fail.
  • I would say and do what others expected of me out of fear of being rejected. I would bottle all my thoughts in my head, afraid to share them just in case someone thought I was mad or worse insane – fuck me that worked out well!
  • I was consumed with self-doubt, I never gave myself a chance, so I didn’t need anyone else to put me down, nah fuck that I did a pretty good job of that mi sen.

For years I tried my best to conform, to ‘Shut up and put up” but none of it made me happy, I always felt discontent and disillusioned by life to the point that I nearly gave up. I was emotionally bankrupt  and I didn’t have a fucking bank account, let alone a metaphorical one.

“So what changed” I hear you ask?

I’d been brought up to always be considerate of others, ‘It was the right thing to do” I was never inclined to consider myself. Thinking about oneself was deemed selfish. But that started to change, I started taking notice, and when I say taking notice, I don’t mean taking notice of everything going off around me, I started taking notice of me and instead of questioning everything and getting fuck all back, I started looking for some answers, my of which only i could answer.

I found that there were people and places where people were willing to listen to all the things I’d always thought, but never dared share or voice out loud. It was a relief to I realised that there were others like me! Many were on a journey and had similar destinations in mind.

It was like being accepted into a fucking “secret society” that I never even knew existed.

But unlike some other societies, you didn’t have to go through some dodgy ritual to gain membership or acceptance. Fuck that! most of the members had gone through enough dodgy shit, they didn’t need to go through anymore. There were no oaths, no pledges of allegiance the only oath you need to make was to yourself. That’s where I learned about something called resilience and best of all I learned I had some already, only I never knew it.

Resilience isn’t something you’re born with, tha can’t buy it online and it isn’t just for a select few neither. Most of us have our own bank accounts, right? I now have what I call my resilience bank account and trust me it far more valuable than whats in my Natwest account. Over the years I have come to realise the importance of having some time out, making time to #Haveawordwimisen  It’s the place where I bank my happy memories, I invest and deposit positive thoughts about myself daily.

(like now) to sit alone with my feelings and thoughts including the uncomfortable ones and let go of the ones that don’t serve me.

Every so often I will get a copy of my resilience bank statement to remind myself how far I have come and to make sure I’m not going into the red.

I have a special volt in my account, that’s for the crappy memories, parts of my past., there is only me who has a key. Occasionally I might pop it open have a look, but then I’ll put it back where it belongs in the past.

This hasn’t been easy Resilience isn’t about pushing through and accepting shit and it isn’t about taking control or carrying on regardless of how you feel. Resilience is about developing strategies that help you manage when facing situations, you find stressful instead of running away from them.

I know on the outside that some people think I have got this life malarky all sorted, but they couldn’t be more wrong. There are some days I have to work fucking hard, sometimes all it takes is looking at situations differently or considering a different perspective.

My resilience has developed and changed over the years, based on how I’ve responded to experiences, my environment at the time and all the social interactions. I have come to accept that I will be forever having to learn about myself and accept that #shithappens – it’s how I manage it that counts.

There are now loads of support groups freely available that can help develop your resilience. The best part is their doors are open to anyone who has a willingness to take ownership of their shit and a desire to change, to improve themselves on their terms.

So, stop feeling sorry for ya sen, get off ya ass and start investing in your resilience bank account – cos your worth it

Love Fordy

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

Taking responsibility for our own thinking

I’m renown for coining the phase shit happens, it frequently rolls off my tongue, much to the annoyance of my kids. Or another personal favourite is, “It is what it is.” Now my kids do hate this one, I’m sure that sometimes they think I don’t care or I’m not listening but what I am trying to say is if you can’t change something, focus more on trying to accept it in its entirety, no ifs or buts, and move on. 

 

“Next…… ”

 

At the moment life can feel like a shower of shit what with COVID and the pressure to keep all social contact to a minimum, this is a particularly big ask when, much of our social interaction with family, friends and peer support groups is the only thing that helps keep them sane. 

 

This new way of living has forced many of us to rely less on others and focus on relying on ourselves. COVID has inadvertently forced many people to stop, think and reflect on what matters. But for some being afforded more time to think has been like being gifted a poisoned chalice and they cannot cope and miss the welcome distraction of work and their lives pre COVID. 

 

Over recent months, in particular, I have sat, listened and read people, who in my humble opinion are wasting precious energy and time thinking, fixating, rehashing, dwelling in things that have either happened in the past or even worse about what might happen in the future, which quite frankly is more insane considering none of us can predict the future, not even mystic fucking meg. 

 

This kind of thinking can be debilitating, there is sooo much shit that goes off in our lives that we cannot control and yet many still try. What concerns me more is the number of people who take their thinking for granted. Who don’t understand or recognise how what they think, or allow themselves to think can and does influence how they feel. And ultimately how they act OR React? or realise that if they focused on their mental health, how they can support and help their emotional health.

 

Now I’m not saying it’s easy, fuck me there are days when I spend far too much time being distracted by other people’s shit, thinking about different scenarios or things I cannot change, it’s like having squatters living rent-free in my head. But it does get easier and I promise the more you practice on focusing on the present and what you are thinking you will find yourself less distracted by thoughts from the past or the future for that matter. 

 

The more self-aware you become, the more you will start to notice when the piss-taking squatters have moved in and learn how to evict their sorry assess outta ya head. I often find that… 

 

Banging on some positive tunes normally does the trick, drowning squatters out with songs by M People, or my personal fave “Best thing that happened to me” by told Glady’s Night. 

 

Keep a Journal, it’s my safe space for putting my thoughts down on paper, I often re-read it back and wonder “What the fuck were you thinking” 

 

Think about what you are thinking – for example, are you thinking about your goals? Or are you thinking about the barriers to your goals?

 

Reach out – Call or facetime a friend or someone you can trust, I know it’s not the same as being with them, but it’s a good second best

 

Try different things – if there’s one thing I have learned it’s what might work for one person won’t for another there are loads of help out there that we can try to help ourselves – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/your-mind-plan-quiz/ 

 

The last word – we cannot control everything in our lives, but we can control and take some responsibility about how we think about it and how we deal with it… after all, SHIT HAPPENS, always does and always will…

 

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

Mind over Chatter 

Let me take you back – Remember the ready break advert when the kid comes downstairs, eats his porridge before school, then heads out of the door surrounded by an orange glow, smiling without a worry in the world – I wanted to be that ready break kid, that natural positivity always eluded me.

My brain is like a sponge, it always has been for as long as I can remember, I absorb everything, I’m an overthinker, I used to and still do question and analyse anything, everything and anyone. I would constantly replay conversations, positive or negative I could always rewrite them to help justify how I felt. I could have a full-blown argument with myself verbally and internally to the point of feeling like I was going to explode or implode.

Negative Nancy (what I call her now) was always there to remind me that I was either a… Failure, No good, Unlovable, Fat, Lazy, Ugly or a fraud. Trust me there are many more, but you don’t need to hear about them now, the point I am trying to make is that I used to think that everything I thought was right, fact or true. Looking back, it’s no wonder I felt permanently shit or down because my thoughts were mainly negative, there were hardly any positives.  

I would resort to pleasing others in return for some positive affirmations. I sought out their approval but when I got nothing back in return this just reinforce the low opinion, I already had about myself.

I tried to look the part, put on a front letting the world know I was ok. I played the role of housewife, mother, I had the house, the job, the car a job but still, none of these brought me the peace and happiness I craved. It was a constant cycle of negativity that left me feeling physically and emotionally unwell. That’s was until the drugs came in.

The drugs made me feel like I could do anything and soon found solace, comfort and reassurance that I was an ok person. I was invincible, people’s word’s no longer hurt, they bounced off me instead of penetrating me, I no longer gave a fuck. The drugs helped to numb the feelings, but I was like the walking dead emotionally. Everyone has what they call their rock bottom, mine was the shock of being in a mental health ward and not having a fucking clue about how I got there.

So what changed – I now understand that during the run-up to my breakdown, I was on the verge of emotional and mental bankruptcy. All my drug use did was to manage to break whatever spirit I might have had left, leaving just a hollow shell. However, my denial about what was happening to me at the time only served to make me worse. 

Acceptance – Early on in my recovery, I had plenty of time to think and with the support from the staff for the first time was able to reflect on my life journey to date. I soon realised, or more importantly acknowledge that I had in fact been emotionally and mentally unwell way before the drugs came along. I realised that my use was just a poor solution to what felt like at the time a very complex problem. Turns out it wasn’t that complex, at all and that I didn’t have the tools to cope.

Learning to drown out Negative Nancy -I used to listen to her a lot, I used to believe everything she said to me. But it wasn’t until I really started paying attention to what she was really saying that I realised that everything she said wasn’t true. Slowly I started to recognise that in fact, I wasn’t a bad or weak person, but that I didn’t really know my own mind. 

Have your own pep talk or #Haveawordwiyasen – I mentioned earlier that my mind is like a sponge, we are all consciously and subconsciously taking in and absorbing information that every so often we all need to give our brains a good wring out. I personally find journaling good for me. Sometimes after a good internal pep talk, I will often bang on a tune to help remind me I’m ok. M Peoples “Search for the hero inside yourself “was always my go-to song, back in the early days.

I Stopped blaming others – for years I blamed everyone and anyone for how I felt, I relied too much on others for my happiness. I knew there and then that if I was to get better then the only person that could help me was myself. I have learned over the years to take responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings, I admit sometimes this has felt lonely, but I would prefer to be lonely and in control of me, rather than surrounded by others and out of control.

Accepting support – I used to think asking for help was a sign of weakness – I was allocated a community psychiatrist nurse (CPN) She would come and visit me weekly. Just having someone sat by my side listening to me offloading my thoughts, my feelings with no other agenda but to help me get well was a lifesaver for me, I can honestly say it’s the first time I felt heard. She took an interest in me, I was her sole focus in those sessions, she helped me plan my week, set targets which helped give me a sense of purpose. It was just simple things like budgeting, making sure I got to appointments making sure I spend time thinking and doing things for myself.

Become your own private detective – My CPN helped me question all the negative beliefs I had about myself and I started slowly to accept and learn that I wasn’t a bad person and that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. She explained about how my internalised thoughts impacted on my feelings, which helped explain how I acted out the way I did. I would offload my past and she helped me unpick all the limiting beliefs about myself that had accrued over the years.

Over the years I have done a lot of personal reflection/investigations. I have gone back and relived crime scenes as I saw them at that time. Doing this enabled me to look at certain incidents from different perspectives and turns out many of what I thought to be fact were actually assumptions based on where I was at, at that time. 

Building a healthy support network – I started to realise that the people I had been associating with, weren’t healthy themselves and that if I was going to get better, I would need to cut ties. At first this was hard, because this left me with just a handful of trusted people, who I could turn to. Trust me sometimes it got very lonely. There were many times I wanted to give up, it was tough, but it was worth it in the long run.

Take a risk – looking back I took so many risks, dealing drugs, handling stolen goods worst of all playing Russian roulette with my emotional and mental health. I still take risk’s, but this time they are healthier. There were many a time I didn’t think I had it within me to change, but that was the risk I was willing to take. The change was especially scary when I didn’t know what the new me might look like, or afraid I might fail again. I have learned that nothing in life is guaranteed and every day is potentially filled with risk, it’s how you deal with it that counts.

Develop new ways of coping – I now realise that I don’t need to reach for drugs when the going gets tough, all I need to do is reach into myself. My story is no fairy tale and it certainly isn’t unique by a long shot, I know there are many others who suffer the same. life can be cruel at times, #shithappens to good people but If I have learned anything it’s how you deal with it that counts.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned not to be so hard on myself and practice self-compassion on a daily basis.  

There are many techniques that I have tried over the years so I thought I would share some of them with you, but I share them with a word of warning. Just because they worked for me doesn’t mean that they will work for you. My recovery has been a journey of trial and error and yours will be too.

Journaling – Where possible I make time, normally first thing in the morning, before work to reflect on how I’m feeling. Sometimes I can feel anxious for what seems like no reason, but by just sitting with the feelings and writing down the thoughts in my head I can usually find the root cause.

Support groups -Although I don’t attend as many as I used to, I will never tire of being in a support group being surrounded by likeminded people who are working on themselves. it’s both humbling and inspiring to hear people share openly and to be able to listen and a great reminder I am not alone.

Trusted friend – I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, I’d rather have one friend who gets me over 50 that don’t. Someone who I feel safe to share my vulnerabilities without feeling judged. Sometimes I might not hear from some of them for weeks (after we all have busy lives) but when we connect it’s like we have never been apart (cherish those friendships)

Exercise your mind – All too often people focus on physical exercise to improve mental health, but there are other exercises that can help too

Mindfulness – learn how to still your mind or better still learn how to tell Negative Nancy to ‘Piss off” There are hundreds of mindfulness techniques such as meditation classes, guided audio sessions and many are FREE

Have a break from Social Media – Avoid the lure of comparing yourself to others

Practice being in the present – focus your attention and gratitude for what you have got and focus less on what you haven’t got.

Make a to-do list – list all the things that you need to get done, even simple household chores that you have been meaning to do but have been putting off.

Read – make time to lose yourself in a good book whether that be a self-help, fiction, non-fiction it really doesn’t matter, whatever floats your boat, read it.  

Bang on some music – sort out some uplifting tunes and play them whenever you are feeling down, create your own positive playlist – this particularly works for me when I’m doing mundane jobs like housework or writing reports.

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

 

Recovery Rush

I used to get my rush (or high) from Speed, Amphet. It was a rush like nothing I had ever had before, I felt invincible, something I hadn’t felt for years. it was physical, it was emotional. That small bit of white or pink powder could transport me from what was causing me pain and offering a brief respite from the feeling of hopelessness and unhappiness.

But it didn’t last long.

Ask anyone in recovery and they will tell you that most of their lives became consumed with chasing that elusive rush, but it got harder and harder.  They will tell you how they still chased that elusive rush or high whilst their lives were unravelling around them and how they still chased that rush despite the consequences. Loss or breakdown in relationships, poor physical and mental health, loss of jobs, homes and even worse their children. Addiction is selfish, it isolates us, it isolated us from loved ones around us, but more importantly, we become isolated and disconnected from ourselves.

Recovery from addiction starts by learning to put down the synthetic highs and replacing them with natural ones. Recovery isn’t just about ridding or detoxing our bodies of the synthetic poison. Recovery is also about detoxing our minds, what we watch, what we listen to, who we listen to and what we read. But more importantly how we talk and listen to ourselves.

So, what is a recovery rush?

I would describe my recovery rush or high comes from listening and reading stories of how people from all walks of life have overcome or come to terms with the very reasons that we turned to substances in the first place. Now my natural rush comes from hearing about how people have overcome adversity and who feel happier in their skin. The special rushes come hearing people talk about newfound self-awareness, watching people deconstruct the physical and emotional walls that they built over the years.  It is a privilege to witness the freedom and a sense of relief and recognition that they are deep down worthy of better.

I haven’t yet once met anyone who chose to become addicted, who set out with the intentions of sabotaging themselves, or their families and loved ones. Addiction isn’t a lifestyle choice it is driven by a complex set of internal and external factors both unique to the individual concerned. Addiction’s not a Monday – Friday job, it’s 24/7 its 365 days a year. Once a year, people use September as an opportunity to speak up and share their recovery journeys. Offering hope and inspiration others who might be questioning their own.

I am very proud of Sheffield’s Recovery community, which is rich in diversity but more importantly, it is driven by the people in recovery themselves. Selflessly giving back, offering a listening ear to someone who has felt unheard for years. Its visible recovery at its finest, being surrounded by people may be weeks or even years ahead of you, but who you can look up to as role models. You hear about their recovery journeys and hear similarities in their stories that reflect your own and can feel an instant connection. A safe space to explore painful memories emotions that you have tried to block out for years can start to bubble to the surface, but it ok because you are surrounded by likeminded people who have been through something similar. For many in the recovery community, it’s like finally finding your tribe. A sense of connection and belonging. Sheffield has many tribes (groups) ranging from NA, AA, CA, SMART, ARC, SASS, Kickback and De-hood recovery peer groups. There are also loads of recovery led support services such our treatment providers, Hep C mentors, Shelter, The Greens offer specialist support the list goes on and on.

The key for those in early recovery is finding their own a tribe, or even more than one tribe it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter what tribe you chose, just as long as it works for you. A tribe where you feel connected, a healthy recovery community doesn’t mind about how you became addicted, what you did during, your using, or how long you have been clean, what substances you misused or how many lapses or relapses you have experienced. All that matters is that you are trying, that you are doing your best and trying to learn from past mistakes and are trying to unlearn, old learned behaviours, to become a better version of who you are, a happier version, someone who doesn’t need synthetic external substances to make your ‘feel’ better within your skin.

There are challenges though, whilst it is priceless being around others that can support and inspire we mustn’t start to become dependent on others for our recovery rush. Internal happiness is something we all have to continuously work at don’t lose sight of how to develop your internal recovery rush.

Steps to work on developing your Recovery Rush

  • Get into new habits, like doing a daily gratitude list
  • Remind yourself that you are worthy of happiness, just like everyone else
  • Remember what you have achieved how well you have done
  • Even if you haven’t got a lot, be thankful for what you have got
  • Continue to develop and work on healthy relationships not just with others, but yourself
  • Do the things that make you feel get about yourself that make you happy
  • Observe the world around you without being immersed in it.
  • Connect with yourself daily
  • Start to learn to love the parts of you that for years you have disliked

Sheffield Recovery Community’s main purpose is promoting all the recovery tribes in Sheffield, we don’t favour one over another because each tribe/group offers their own uniqueness.

To find out more about Sheffield Recovery Community you can either go to our FaceBook page or head to Sheffield DACT website to find out more about treatment and if you want to be really inspired head to the Recovery Page  to read and listen to some amazing stories

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too