Lessons learned from one persons recovery

 

When I entered the mental hospital, I genuinely had nothing left, no feelings, no emotions, I mind was blank, my body completely numb, there was no resilience left in the tank. After a few sessions with the shrinks they concluded that I had had a couple if mini mental breakdowns in the run-up to the finale which saw me running around the streets in a drug-induced psychosis thinking I was John the Baptist who was being stalked by the devil himself, they also concluded that of course the speed wasn’t helping and was a contributing factor. 

Upon being discharged I returned to a toxic relationship that had contributed to my mental health breakdown in the first place.  I assumed after my short respite in the hospital, as did my family that I was fixed and that if I abstained from drugs that life would go back to normal “whatever the fuck that means”. But one afternoon two months of being back in the family home, the penny dropped, something inside of me changed and I decided there and then, that if I stayed there any longer I would be back to square one. That I would get sucked back into all the charade of deceit, manipulation and coercion disguised as a relationship all over again. 

The hardest part of my early recovery journey apart from being a single parent on benefits, with no means of going back to work I had lost sense of my identity I was a shell of the person I used to be, the home I was given was also a shell, no furniture no home comforts,. I recall my sister insisting that I go back to the family home and take what was mine, but I didn’t have the energy to fight over something that was also being used as a bargaining tool to entice me back.   I also knew no amount of materialism could fix what was broken everything that I thought I knew and believed had been sucked out of me, I had to start again. 

I knew that I couldn’t go back to being who I was before, I was no longer good old “Fordy” who would drop everything in return for feeling accepted or for an easy life. Something had changed, I had changed, I was no longer a passenger in this reality we call life, I was now the driver, albeit with L plates. As I look back I was still very vulnerable and still mentally unwell for a while, I had taken myself out of a toxic relationship and environment, but I still had more work to do on myself. 

I learned to distinguish who my real friends were and trust me apart from family there was no one, well no one that was good for me. The people I would once call friends were just actually transactional associates who didn’t have my best interest at heart. 

I learned this the hard way from a relapse, I had been clean for over 4 months, I bumped into an old associate (who was also an old dealer) with the offer of selling some stolen goods to make some quick cash, I agreed and started making a little on the side, one day I was offered some speed, despite this person being fully aware of my past history, and at the time I naively thought, “it won’t hurt” but as the drug started taking a hold, my body shook and I thought that my head might explode, I couldn’t think straight, it was like I had been teleported back to a very dark place. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, but then again, I wasn’t the same person, I knew that drugs weren’t the answer. 

The ability to be honest with yourself is not the easiest thing to do knowing that you need to nurture some love for ourselves. Looking after everyone else, putting their needs first, while your needs are put on the back burner doesn’t work. 

The weight of responsibility recovery comes with the knowledge that this is your life to fix and shape as you see fit and it can feel like the loneliest place on earth. Healing takes time and distance to pick up the pieces that were broken, there are NO QUICK FIXES This is one of the main things I learned since walking out of those doors of Middlewood hospital twenty plus years ago, I have also learned…

I have learned that my drug use was a very poor solution for fixing problems within myself, that only I could change. 

I have learned to accept that shit things happen and that not all of it is my fault or within my control – but this takes time a patience. 

I have learned to accept that I cannot change others into someone I want them to be because this is simply impossible – however you do have a choice, you have either accept them, tolerate them or walk away. 

I have learned to become brave, trying new things, meeting new people opening doors to something different.

I have learned to accept that I will fail at something and that failure isn’t a weakness, its part of life. 

I have learned that sometimes in order to gains some perspective, we need to step away and make time for self-reflection – this is a biggy and where peer support can come in handy

I have learned to love myself and put myself first – without feeling selfish or that I am letting others down

I have learned that you can create beautiful amazing things from sadness.

Other lessons learned from a loved one’s addiction

All this learning also helped when my father was catapulted back into my life 10 years later. Dad has always had a woman on his arm, I realised he had a new mistress and I was shocked when I realised his new mistress, was alcohol. Everything I had ever learned about my own addiction took on a whole new twist, I was now on the receiving end of a loved one’s addiction. I was forced into developing a whole new set of coping strategies.

I had to make a decision “did I stay or walk away?” I had every reason to walk away, I mean I didn’t owe this man anything, but knowing what I knew about my own addiction helped me to understand his and over the three years of caring for dad, I was able to see, that dad was no different to me, he shared memories that haunted taunted him, memories he was unable to forgive himself for.

I knew deep down that despite all the help, offers of support not just from the family but from professionals that the only person that could say goodbye and walk away from his relationship with alcohol was himself, sadly he never could and sadly he died from it.

Fast forward

Years ago I had never heard of AA or NA before, but now there is so much more on offer and with over 49 different support groups operating in the city, there is much to chose from. Over the years, as more people speak out, as more peer-led support groups, online forums develop there is more than ever someone out there who can help you find yourself again. But don’t be duped or fooled into thinking that a support group or someone else alone can cure you, but they can help you cure yourself but more importantly love and accept yourself.

As a recovery community, we don’t look down on relapse we see this as being an opportunity to learn and accept that relapse is part of the journey to finding and loving yourself. all we can do is help and guide others, by sharing our own experiences we can demonstrate that using substances to fix something that is or may seem to be broken isn’t a solution and by offering, encouragement, support, and guidance hopefully, we can inspire and show that anything is possible. 

 

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

Love Fordy x

 

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The insomnia witch, bitch paid a visit last night

But it’s not all bad, I woke early this morning inspired to write, a new spring in my step, a new theme for the book…

To say the past few weeks have been pretty hectic would be an understatement,  with so much going on with work, family, life… I have found it difficult to find not only the urge but also the inspiration, confidence to write.

The writing comes in waves and I never know what direction the next wave will take me in, but I am learning to ride whatever wave hits me and go with the flow and more importantly “trust the process”, it can be hard, but I reason with myself that not everything in life is easy and most of what happens is out of our control, the only control we do have is how we deal with those crashing waves when they arrive.

Constantly coming into contact with other people. other human beings who have and still are coming to terms or who are still riding the wave of this thing we call “life” can be both draining but inspiring all at the same time. the worst part is despite all this personal insight, I still struggle, I am human just like the next person.

And despite all the misery, doom, and fucking gloom, I find myself constantly inspired and amazed by the resilience of the people who I have the pleasure of coming into contact with in my day to day life…

The women who have lost their sense of identity, who have lost themselves in unhealthy relationships, but yet are still sitting around a table sharing their stories in order to help the next woman OR man.

The people who have been entrenched in addiction, who have lost everything, their possessions, their health, relationships, who have found themselves on the streets, with only the pitiful stares or glares from strangers, passers-by who are now reclaiming their lives and taking back control.

To all the people who work selflessly to help others, without recognition because it is the right thing to do, who don’t crave adulation or praise to feed their starving egos.

I am reminded that I want to surround myself with people and have relationships and friendships that are collaborative opposed to being competitive. I haven’t got the time, energy or will to engage with people riddled with their own insecurity who are prone to making frequent lies and exaggerations (about themselves and others), in order to elevate their own egos by putting others down.

As I get older and perhaps a little wiser I am forever learning and reminding myself, that with all the worldly distractions that bombard us in our daily lives we must always remember to make time for ourselves…

Learning to love ourselves
Before anyone else
Learning to laugh at our imperfections
Or laugh at past mistakes
Taking on new challenges
Raising the stakes
Embracing change
Using our intuition as our compass
Or a map as our guide
Leaving the past behind us
Where we no longer need to hide
As we navigate new terrain
Accepting we count
We do have a voice
We can have a say
And a chance to make new friendships along the way

If you are reading this, thank you for your friendship and companionship on this journey we call life

Much love Fordy xxx

 

 

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To give or not to give – A twentieth-century moral dilemma

 

 

Unless you shop in an indoor shopping center or physically blind it is near impossible to go about your daily business without seeing evidence of deprivation, the vulnerability that exists in today’s society. Individuals sat passively begging, sat with a cup in front of them, wrapped in a sleeping bag, small groups gathering up to no good, people openly under the influence no longer concerned about trying to disguise their drug use. SPICE also is known as the poor man’s drug is available on most street corners for as little as a quid a spliff. 

Seeing people beg who appear vulnerable makes us question and test our moral obligation to help that person in need and with more people sat or approaching people for money and with so much advice about what the right thing to do It has become even harder to decide which side of the fence you are going to sit on?

Recently after looking at my monthly bank statement online. There were rows and rows of charges to Greggs, I totted it up and I had spent shy of £60 in Greggs in the previous month and the only thing I ever buy for myself is a black tea. So I made a pact with myself, I wasn’t going to buy any more food or drinks for a month. (particularly when I also know that Greggs daily donate leftover food to all the local charities) I continued to buy a weekly copy of The Big Issue, I continued to sit and have a chat with the folks on the street and when I explained to one of the guys about my self-imposed pact, he agreed with me, “I mean where do you draw the line?” he said? just before I left him another member of the public came around the corner with his usual bacon and tom dip and a coffee from the local cafe. 

I work in the city center, I simply cannot afford to give to everyone who asks? I get angry at the thought of an unsuspecting shopper who has just come from the local food bank to feed her family or the guy who is barely surviving on his pension, who would love to help but are barely making ends meet themselves. Most will willingly accept your offer of food or a drink, whilst others will refuse preferring cash instead. 

What we are seeing is an increase of people hustling hiding behind the guise of being homeless, however, their actions serve only take advantage of the already disadvantaged and socially excluded using that other person’s homeless status to extort change from well-meaning members of the public. These are often the very same ones who will have access to a roof over their heads, access to benefits, their actions only serve to contribute to blurring the lines. 

The hustle has been going on for generations but it was mainly behind the scenes and hidden in close-knit communities, in local pubs, and between trusted neighbours, however, over the years, the hustle has started to flood into more public spaces. Once reserved for street homeless begging has become the new street hustle, this is evident in with the increase in people begging. There is no denying that homelessness is on the rise, but you cannot compare this figure based on people begging in the street. We live in a compassionate society it is human nature to want to help another human being in need, but how do you tell who is desperate and in most need – put quite simply you don’t.

My friend recently shared her experience going home on the bus 

“Three of Sheffield’s finest homeless sharing my bus ride home, counting out the days’ earnings. Interesting conversation about the general public taking the piss and they’ve earned £89 each. 2 pizzas for £10 and their suppers sorted.”

The majority that I know are people who are dealing with addiction and/or mental health problems are often connected with having had traumatizing upbringings that make them unable to face being alone with themselves without intoxication and whilst intoxication helps in the short term it is not sustainable in the longer term without causing irreversible emotional and physical damage. 

All people begging have a story to tell and how your cash donation will help towards supporting them, if you ask about the support they need they will tell you that there isn’t anything available, even though they may have been visited by outreach teams, PCSO’s or ambassadors before you arrived. 

The reality is that there are services who are out on the streets trying to befriend and offer support and lure people off the streets on a daily basis, because they all know that sitting or living outdoors in all weathers is not going to help or improve or help support their physical or mental wellbeing, or who know that begging mainly serves to fund their already unhealthy addictive and potentially deathly habits. 

There is an array or groups/agencies who go out onto the street to provide interim resources such as sleeping bags, hats gloves warm food/refreshments, dress open wounds or tend to pets veterinary needs because their owners are either not ready, able or willing to accept the support on offer.

Some may argue that the support that is on offer isn’t adequate or agencies aren’t doing enough and I might agree to a certain degree, but I would also argue that all the groups and agencies are doing the very best with what they have got but at least they are focusing and prioritising their efforts on the ones they know are in desperate need. Which is why public support for these local charities is needed more than ever. 

Whilst the signs of poverty are visible, what isn’t as visible are untold stories about how someone who has successfully transitioned from the streets with the right support from local services, that’s where awareness campaigns such as Help us Help help, sharing #Storiesfromthestreet trying to demonstrate that at the right time, with the right support people can live a life off the streets, stories such as Stuart who took part on the first Help us Help film Since being involved in the filming, Stuart has now stopped selling the Big Issue and is focusing on his own Recovery and was one of the Key volunteers who help to shape this years Recovery Months activities.

The Big Issue magazine was launched in 1991 in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London, by offering people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income through selling a magazine to the public, this worked well for years but did you know that The Big Issue sales are on the decline?

Vendors on your local high street are not earning an hourly wage while they’re standing out there in all weathers. operating on a self-employed basis meaning they have outgoings and have to turn a profit just like any other enterprise out there.

Vendors buy their magazines from The Big Issue for £1.25 each and sell them to their customers for £2.50 a time. So it is heartbreaking to hear from a big issue seller that they sold 2 mags during the day, making a £2.50 profit only to see someone yards away, wrapped up in a sleeping bag being given fivers or twenties even.

The style of begging is changing, people are getting bolder and will now approach people walking in the streets for spare change “is it right or acceptable to approach and intimidate unsuspecting members of the public for spare change?” The increase of hustlers on the streets is only making it worse for the minority of those who are legitimately vulnerable. 

The act of giving money to people on the streets only serves to reinforce the rationale and justification for those who are hustling that it is ok to beg. Now i am not encouraging people to be less charitable far from it, after all, we need as many people possible in our society to do their bit, but know this there are services, charities doing all they can to help those you see on the streets. If you want to practically help people on the streets, why not get involved with the charities, volunteer your time, work alongside those trying to help, if you haven’t got the time, then donate your cash to a local big issue vendor or a local charity. 

If you were after an answer, then I am sorry to disappoint as there is no right answer, the only person that can answer that million-dollar question “Should I give money to people who beg” is YOU nobody can tell you what to do, but before you hand over your spare change please base your decision on an informed one, go out, do your research ask your questions, then decide…

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

 

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