My problem was never about the drugs, it was me all along

People often ask me ‘how would you describe your recovery journey?’ and I always describe my recovery as being’ like a discovery of the self’. It’s taken a lot of soul searching and self-honesty to be the person that I am today.

let me take you back…

For years I was preoccupied with trying to find my place in society just to somehow feel like I belonged. Motivated by my desire to feel accepted I tried on thousands of different labels just to fit in. And yet I still felt like a fraud, like the odd one out and I could never figure out why.

I would mirror people who I looked up and tried to be more like them and say what I thought they wanted me to say as a short cut to just feel accepted. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs. For years I allowed my life to be narrated for me by others and the fear of rejection always got in the way of expressing my own needs. I was a complete fake.

I still to this day find it ironic that it took me to lose my mental health to gain some mental wealth.

There was no substitute prescription to help with the withdrawals for the drugs I’d been talking, just talking therapy

When I first arrived on the hospital ward I couldn’t string a sentence together, let alone talk I was practically a mute. But with a lot of encouragement from the staff, I was encouraged to talk. But instead of asking ‘what’ happened to me’ they were keen to understand how ‘I felt’ about what had happened to me.

I used to assume that talking was a simple act, After-all they were just words. For years I’d struggled to articulate my feelings and emotions, so much so I’d became a master at deflection. But this time there was nowhere to hide and instead of deflecting I slowly started reflecting.

Through the simple act of talking, I started to see a pattern emerge.  I realised that I gotten so wrapped up in putting others before myself, that I’d lost sight of who I was and my own needs. Which wasn’t surprising, after all I’d been brought up in an era a working-class environment were the messages were told to ‘shut up and put up’ or we were told ‘You made your bed, now lay in it’. There was no time to dwell on feelings, just putting yourself first was seen as a self-indulgent selfish ask.

At times talking was extremely hard because I really didn’t like myself. I was still very angry for allowing myself to get into the position I’d found myself in. I could no longer hide from the fact I’d monumentally fucked up on drugs, that I’d failed at being a mother. The drug dealing that had once been secret had been exposed after a very public drugs raid at the family home. The shame at times was overwhelming and wasn’t sure if I could face life on the outside.

I just wanted a normal life; the problem was I didn’t know what normal looked like?

But I knew something needed to change. The scariest part though, was I wasn’t sure what change would look like? I mean would people still like me?

But the important question I now realise was ‘would I like myself?’.

The staff persisted in their endeavours to get me to talk. I was softly prompted and at times challenged about what had become negative ingrained beliefs about how I saw myself. It was like being my own personal investigator as I unpicked parts of my past searching for answers. It was like having a metaphorical mirror placed in front of me which helped me see that after spending a lifetime of trying to reinvent myself, I needed to start accepting myself.

I entered that hospital with nothing but left with a little faith that I could change. I still didn’t have all the answers at that time. But what I did know was, that I was worthy of more.

My journey since leaving that hospital hasn’t always been easy, in fact I went on to make A LOT more mistakes. But with my new powers of detection or reflection, I started to learn from my mistakes. And that’s where the magic really happened.

My superpower is being my authentic self, I work on it every day. But like any superpower I have my own weaknesses too or kryptonite as I call it. I still to this day struggle with self-doubt or imposter syndrome. In fact, I am currently working my way back to being my authentic self as I write this blog. This time last week, Negative Nancy, came knocking at my door and I foolishly let her sofa surf in my head for far too long – I’ve written about Negative Nancy before

Nowadays if I can’t talk it out, I write it out And after a week of soul searching and A LOT of reflection I finally managed to evict Negative Nancy from my head.

Just being back in that dark space for that short time was a stark reminder that being true to your authentic self takes time, effort and bucket loads of self-compassion. I came across this helpful article about authenticity, and it pretty much sums up the values that I hold dear and nowadays instead of seeking attention I practice paying  attention.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned about my recovery journey is SHIT HAPPENS in life, but that it’s how you deal with the SHIT that matters.

My recovery journey isn’t unique, in fact there are millions of people recovering from their own personal demons every day. This September is National Recovery Month, and a big part of my recovery journey has been about helping others, not just help them find themselves, but to also remind them that they have a VOICE and a CHOICE. You can read some more amazing inspirational stories here

Please help the Sheffield Recovery Community by sharing people’s stories to help reduce the stigma associated with addiction.

And remember it takes a brave person to be their authentic self because we always run the risk of not being accepted, but TRUST me nothing feels worse than when you don’t accept yourself.

Keep on havin a word wi thee sen.

love Tracey x


I don’t write for financial reward or gain. I just want to help share my lived experience with others hoping that it helps. And I just love to write, so if ya fancy getting the occasional email (NO SPAM) with the most up to date blogs from yours truly, please feel free to subscribe at the bottom of the main page.

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