Frontline stories: From an ex-client

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Meet Ruby. She went through residential treatment 18 months ago here at The Nelson Trust, and continues to be supported through the Women’s Centre in Gloucester.

Ruby already went through residential rehabilitation a few years earlier in a mixed-gender house at The Nelson Trust but grief from her mother’s recent passing prevented her from being able to fully engage in the treatment process.

Sadly, she experienced another relapse and breakdown back out in society. Getting a taste of what “recovery” and freedom can look like makes a relapse especially painful. This time her keyworker recommended she attend a women’s only residential rehabilitation.

She told us her recovery story…

“Before treatment, I was living on my own in a flat. I was incredibly isolated. I didn’t go out much. I was drinking constantly. Waking up with massive withdrawals and panic attacks and quite paranoid. My physical health was horrendous. I could only take about 10 steps before I would feel paralysed. So going to the shop to try to get what I needed became painful, I had to keep stopping to catch my breath.

Luckily, my keyworker was really good. She was still there for me. It wasn’t an easy journey. I had to prove I really wanted it. I had to show up to groups. A lot of groups. But I knew that if I didn’t get there, I wouldn’t get what I needed and staying where I was wasn’t an option. She told me that once she saw that determination and commitment, they would think about getting more funding for rehab.

I had to wait three months for detox because so many had been closed down. But by the time I got there I was so willing to change. I knew by then that I had a load of issues I need to deal with. One of the conditions for getting my funding this time around was that I go to an all-woman service, so I chose to come back to The Nelson Trust.

One of the things which most stands out in my memory from when I started treatment at the women-only house was when one of the staff said to me: ‘Before you leave here, you WILL like yourself!’ I looked at her as if she was mad and thought ‘I don’t think so!’ But she was right. I did like myself by the time I left treatment. I do like the person I am today and the woman I could become. I feel like all my life experiences can be of some use. I can actually contribute back to society in a more positive meaningful way. I like that!

My life now is the complete opposite to what it was!

When I went into treatment my confidence was so low I didn’t really have a voice of my own. Now I’ve found my voice and my confidence to own my place in society. I really am okay with being me now. My mental health still plays up but I can recognise it and go out and get some more help.

I have learnt to look after myself a bit better, and that I am worth looking after. And that I am not a piece of crap – even though it took me a long time to learn that. I’ve learnt not to react quickly in a negative way. I’ve learnt the power of pausing before I go off with a bang.

I’ve got friends. I go out and see people now (socially distanced walks only at the moment of course) but I connect with others every single day. I’m also a volunteer Peer Mentor at the Women’s Centre.

The whole lockdown thing has taken me into a completely different way of life. Before, I didn’t even know how to use a computer. I went out and bought one. Even setting it up was a mission. But I’ve been now taught how to do pretty much everything you need to know about facilitating a group on zoom.  I can even copy and paste. I have learnt stuff which I never thought I’d be able to do.

To anyone out there struggling to get help, who maybe doesn’t believe that they have it in them to change but they’re desperate to, I would say it is possible to get clean. It’s possible to like yourself. There are people out there who care. You don’t have to be on your own.”

I live opposite a homeless place. I see what is happening out there right now. It’s hard. Things have changed in terms of support and funding for projects. I see them walking the streets with nowhere to go. I think so many services have had to close down over the years that it’s hard to find help and support unless you know where to go already or are lucky and get referred. It’s really sad. I used to be able to go to day hospitals, drop in centres, places I could go to which would have things to do and more help. What I see now is addicts only having each other. So much is gone – It’s hard to see so many people suffering.

Unfortunately there isn’t much funding out there these days and not many people get the privilege of funding for rehab. But funders need to know that we are worth investing in and that we are serious about getting help. It is a real shame that not more funding is out there to help those who really need help.”

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