By Phil – Expert Citizens
Let me first start with where I am now, I’m 57 days sober and actually feeling quite good for the first time in a long time. I don’t think I was ever physically dependent on drink but I might have just been kidding myself, I saw myself as being mentally dependent on it, I used it as a defence mechanism other than self-medication. Now for the history behind it all, I grew up in rather full household with someone at the head of that household who wasn’t a pleasant person. My mum had to contribute to the house so was working a lot and me and my younger brother were left in the care of this not so pleasant person.
As you may be aware your first 7 years of life according to psychologists mould your adult life and throughout mine I was mentally and physically abused and made to believe I was worthless and everything that happened was my fault and nobody would believe me if I said anything anyway. We left that situation when I was 8 years old but by then the damage had already been done, we spent a good year floating about from spare room to spare room till my mum and step dad found their own accommodation. During this time it became apparent that my dad was rather ill but neither me nor my brother knew the extent of this really until what turned out to be our final holiday with him and the rest of our family as me and my brother shared a room with my dad and saw things I cannot un-see. Two weeks after we returned from this holiday my dad died of what I later learned started as bowel cancer and spread like wildfire throughout his body. This coincidentally happened to be in my first few weeks of high school and due to the bereavement I missed most of the start of year 7 which meant I missed the bonding with new friends and so on and so forth. With all this in mind and added to the fact I did receive my fair share of bullying I became disillusioned with the whole high school process and this is where I discovered alcohol to repress memories and get me out of certain mindsets.
As I got older the alcohol use to do this became second nature and it ruined relationships not only with partners but with family and friends so I basically up until recently have spent all my adult life either sofa surfing, in hostels or street homeless with a few areas of rest bite where I was either in a relationship or held my own short-lived accommodation. A lot happened that was detrimental to my mental health in that time period and I attempted suicide on no fewer than 7 occasions but that is a story for another time. I have been on medication to counteract this but none have seemed to work and I have been attempting to gain professional help that hasn’t been very forthcoming which remembering my past didn’t sit well with me. Jumping forward to what led me to follow my current path, both my mum and step dad are of ill health and because of my mental health and normal coping mechanism this led me to drink rather heavily for months lying to family, friends, colleagues and most of all myself. This ended up with me waking up one day after a 4 day binge with severe stomach pain which led me to calling 999, spending 2 weeks in hospital and finding out I had acute pancreatitis. This led me to the decision to stop drinking all together, since then I have received overwhelming support from Men Unite, Stoke Recovery, Expert Citizens and last but not least my family, I plan on carrying on with this journey working with all said organisations to hopefully help people who have been in similar situations.