Updated: Sep 11, 2018
I’m a 42-year-old single mum, who has 2 children, my first was born when I was 16 and my second when I was 20. I also have a precious little granddaughter who is 4.
I have studied and worked the majority of my life, I’ve always flourished in the youth and community sector in supporting roles, including, drug and alcohol support services, developing and delivering alternative education programmes, social services and working with young offenders.
14 years ago I experienced 3 back to back traumas, involving my children, that I wouldn’t wish on any parent. I truly did not know how I would cope moving forward, how to regulate my emotions, my reactions to life were extreme and the only thing that kept me going was my children.
After hitting rock bottom, I started regularly using alcohol and various drugs including cocaine to escape my reality and I was probably self-medicating at least 2 to 3 times a week, it got that bad I really needed help, so I finally decided to go to the doctors. The doctor prescribed me some antidepressants and made a referral to counselling, which I attended, but my feelings were becoming overwhelming, debilitating and very toxic, so I was given more medication. This cycle went on for 10 years or more. My relationships suffered, my work and my mental health. Things got so bad by this time I was on 4 different types of medication and very suicidal, convinced my only escape was when I was intoxicated.
Then my daughter became pregnant. Wow this was an opportunity to recreate myself through this little babies eyes. I had no clue how……but I knew I had to make some drastic changes.
I realised that despite being diagnosed with 3 different mental health illnesses, this would not be the definitive of who I am or who I could be to this little beautiful child who would fill my heart with love. By this time my use of alcohol and drugs had become addictions and I knew they had no place or purpose for the person I truly wanted to be.
But what would I do to manage my overwhelming symptoms now?
My phyciatrist had mentioned Mindfulness in some of my sessions, but to be honest I had no clue of how to apply it, use it or where to begin. Then by chance I was connected to Julie from New Beginnings, it was like my prayers had been answered at this point, she told me about New Beginnings, her approach to educating the community and some of the great work she has done using Mindfulness and Meditation, I was blown away. She explained to me the basics, in a way that resonated with me, I finally understood how Mindfulness could benefit me, we met up a few times, she spoke about Meditation, her own journey and struggles, she gave me some tips and information that started to change my life. We went along to a local Meditation group together, this looking back was another life changing moment for me, I continued to go there meeting other like-minded people, I completed a couple of meditation courses, which gave me tools and skills to have positive coping strategies for when I needed them, and Julie was always very understanding and supportive.
Now I had this whole new way of caring for myself and I learnt to be able to dip in and out of Meditation and Mindfulness when I needed it, so I totally weaned myself of the drugs and alcohol, I simply just didn’t want it or need it in my life anymore, here I was challenging my addictions, and winning. I truly believe I would not of been able to achieve this without the use of Meditation and Mindfulness, it was time to show myself some love, support and compassion.
I’m down to only 1 medication now, which is a massive achievement for me, I’ve still got some distance to go, but I have come so far, it has been 18 months since I first connected with Julie, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her guidance and compassion.
I’m still having symptoms relating to my mental health illness’ , but I feel more equipped to navigate through them, my recovery after crisis is quicker, I can dive into Meditation anytime , anywhere, I’m less reactive, I’m more present in the moment, rather than being stuck in the past or worrying about the future, and I’ve got skills now which I share with people who are close to me, my children, granddaughter and the few friends that have remained with me throughout this journey.
If I’m totally honest, it’s hard to put into words the huge impact of swapping all my old negative coping strategies (drugs and alcohol) for positive healthy ones (Meditation and Mindfulness) but I hope my journey could be a little glimmer of hope to anyone reading this.
My advice to anyone would be to give it a go, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.