I had a normal, good upbringing. I wasn’t around abuse in any form, and I wasn’t around alcohol or drugs from a young age, although my parents didn’t want alcohol to be taboo so I was allowed a glass of wine with dinner from around 14 or 15. Towards the end of school some of my mates were smoking weed, and one was selling cocaine, but taking drugs never occurred to me.
I had some university offers to study graphic design but I didn’t take them up because I didn’t want to move away from the girl I had been in a relationship with for 5 years. I worked in various jobs in London….drugs and alcohol were around but aside from getting a bit drunk on a Friday I wasn’t part of that scene.
Then the relationship broke up. It sent me into a spiral. I wasn’t sure who I was or who I should be. What I’d thought was good, wasn’t good enough for her. I started going out a lot with work. At someone’s flat one evening, some coke was put in front of me. I recalled my girlfriend saying we’d got into a rut and we should be out doing things people our age were doing. I thought, well this is what people my age are doing so I’ll take it. It became a weekend thing. I knew it could get out of hand so I set little markers for myself – I won’t buy it, just take it if someone offers it…..I’ll only do it at weekends…..I won’t take any home. But very slowly I started to cross those lines and once I’d crossed all of them it opened the door and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do.
I was spending all my salary on drugs and alcohol and leaning on credit cards to get through the month. I got another job, at a media agency at a much higher salary but it was a high pressure environment and I had no idea what I was doing. I was hardly sleeping and was depressed all the time. The doctor prescribed me some antidepressants but I soon found they affected the high I got from coke so I shut them away in a drawer.
I left that job but the pattern repeated itself with 2 or 3 more jobs over the next few years. I started to have hallucinations, delusions. One time I thought the house had been raided. Coming down stairs, I asked my parents “where are the police?” I completely broke down when they told me nothing had happened; it had seemed so real.
That spurred me to get clean, which I managed to do by myself. But after a month I relapsed and continued to see and hear things. One day I picked up a box of pills my mum had for her back pain. I remember having no emotion, just thinking “this is what I’m going to do now”. Luckily my parents came home and I came to on the floor with paramedics standing over me. I was in hospital for a week for my blood levels to get back to normal.
I’d recently started with a new employer and they arranged for me to go to Broadway Lodge for rehab. One of the first assignments I had to work on at Broadway was “how have your principles, values and beliefs changed (as a result of using)” and I couldn’t answer that because I couldn’t remember what I believed in anymore.
Last year was the worst and best of my life. At the absolute bottom, I’d been technically dead. Broadway taught me to access a “higher power”, which for me was music, art, films…creative energy. This inspired me to release my EP Waking Up. If I hadn’t been through what I have, I would not have had the experience to draw on. Things are really good with my family, and at work. I’ve been very open at work so that if anyone else is struggling, they know they can get help. And my girlfriend and I are working on an idea for a TV series. I won’t reveal too much but it’s quite surreal, and includes a peacock!
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Julian’s recovery story