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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