Addiction Recovery Stories – Gilly

addiction recovery story - gilly profile pic

Name: Gilly

Age: 51

Problem: Alcohol

Recovery Time: 6 Months
(at time of publishing)

When did you first start using?

I had my first drink as a teenager when I was about 15. I looked really young so going to pubs and clubs wasn’t even an option open to me. I got drunk twice as a teenager and it made me very sick; so I barely drank for a long time after this. I drank more regularly at college but I knew my limits; drinking was only a by-product to going to gigs and clubs. In my early-20’s, I started to work for a company where I travelled a lot; sometimes in teams. We had expense accounts whilst we were away and the culture was to ‘work hard and play hard’. It was a lifestyle of entertaining and spending lots of money on food and drink. I often worked away for around 6 weeks at a time but when I returned home the hedonistic lifestyle would end.

When did it become a problem?

In my late-20s, I experienced a traumatic situation and couldn’t access therapy that could help me. This led to trying to numb my emotions through alcohol; it became a routine for me to deal with most stress and difficulties that way too. Because of the industry I worked in; it was easy to hide the problem as all my colleagues drank a lot too. Even though it came to feature more and more heavily; my life was still manageable. I never had an epiphany of addiction realisation; I knew as soon as my drinking really started that it was a problem but it suited my situation to continue rather than to admit I had a problem. For as long as I remember I have had mental health issues; I just didn’t know what the label was when I was young. Due to that, trauma and a lack of available treatment, alcohol was my crutch. I also started to make bad financial decisions and relied heavily on shopping to fill the void inside me. The debt piled up and I had to sell my house to pay it off. I still made a decent profit; I had more money in the bank than I’d ever had but I was also the most miserable I’ve ever been. I moved into rented accommodation; quit my job and drank way too much. I moved towns and got another job in the hope of a better life and in many ways, it was, but some of the drinking problems still continued.

What made you get help?

I didn’t seek help for a long time due to the stigma attached to being an alcoholic. During lockdown I couldn’t see my friends; I was furloughed and became very isolated. My drinking increased to me being no longer just mentally addicted but also physically addicted; the withdrawal symptoms were unbearable. I’d stopped eating and was surviving on pretty much just wine. My apartment was unmanageable and I felt like life wasn’t worth living; I was just waiting to die. I was ready to die and I was ok with it, only a last minute call for help saved me but my motivation wasn’t for me it was for those that loved me. It’s hard to explain but when you’ve been directly affected by suicide you understand its real or perceived implications.

Why the Basement Recovery Project?

After being admitted to hospital for physical alcohol problems; I knew I couldn’t get better on my own. I registered with CRS to get some help and started groups in Todmorden. I was so anxious but as soon as I’d done my first group, I felt like I’d found my tribe; my stepping stones to recovery. The facilitator Danny was fantastic, very calm and welcoming. I really felt like I was in safe hands.

Where would you be now?

If I’d carried on as I was, with no intervention; I would have been dead.

How is life today?

Life now is full of possibilities and opportunities that wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for my recovery. I’ve started a vocational college course to reconnect with my creative roots. I’m also volunteering and making plans for the future. It’s given me the ability to see that there’s a two-pronged approach to addressing addiction and mental health and access the support I need. My first motivation to survive was not to hurt others but my new motivation to live and to thrive; is mainly for myself.

What would you say to someone considering getting in touch with us?

Just make that telephone call; open your mouth. Please don’t put off asking for help like I did. The sense of relief you get from sharing your challenges with someone who understands from their own experience is immense.

Gilly

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“By asking for help you’re also helping yourself”