My journey began when I was 14 when I fell ill with anorexia. I was in and out of psychiatric and general hospitals suffering with this eating disorder until I was 21. But any period I was out of hospital I drank. I used any chance I had to drink. I would switch between active eating disorder and active addiction. My drinking became problematic quickly; falling into a coma, ending up in A&E so often that the staff knew me on a first name basis.
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, not knowing what this meant, and quickly dismissed any help that was offered to me. I carried on with the same pattern, drinking until I became so low that I would try to take my own life. Then would end up back in hospital where again my eating would become problematic.
I was in hospital awaiting a rehab placement and someone offered me crack; I didn’t know what it was but as someone who would just try anything, I tried it, and was instantly hooked. I didn’t go to rehab as planned but instead ended up homeless, hooked on crack and alcohol. That time was the worst period of my life. I experienced trauma, abuse and lost connection with my family, who mean the world to me. I was barely existing every day, let alone living.
This went on for a long time until I really felt I had had enough. I had no idea how to stop, so was waking up drinking, getting money and smoking crack all against my will. I felt trapped and scared and saw no way out.
I ended up back in psychiatric hospital, my mental health at its lowest, desperate for change. I knew I couldn’t do it alone and was already under the drug and alcohol team where I lived. I begged them to get me into rehab and was so scared what would happen if I didn’t get help. The funding process took time, and from psychiatric hospital I was doing groups every day at the drug and alcohol service. This was hard for me, going to groups clean, but I had to do it to show them I was willing to make changes to get into rehab.
Finally, I was told I had been awarded funding and that I was going to Broadway Lodge. I had never been to Weston-super-Mare, I knew nothing about it. I got driven there from the hospital by my Dad. I didn’t speak the whole way; I was so scared.
I spent 16 weeks at Broadway Lodge, it was the hardest yet the best 16 weeks of my life. I was so scared when I arrived that I automatically resorted to old behaviour’s, my eating disorder rearing its head when I was trying to settle in. The medical staff were a constant support to me during my time at Broadway. My counsellor became someone I truly trusted and when I struggled, I was supported, given new techniques on how to manage my addiction and my mental health. I had spent years in psychiatric hospital and never experienced anything like I did at Broadway Lodge. It was intense; but it was just what I needed. My mental health was a struggle for me during my time at Broadway, but this rehab being one of few that supported dual diagnosis, I believe is why it saved my life. My emotions were so intense, and I found it hard to deal with them; yet I made it through. I learnt so much about myself, about the effect my addiction had on my family. I learnt the areas I needed to work on; and I also learnt that I could trust others, that I could look after myself, and that I had worth.
Without Broadway Lodge I genuinely believe I would be dead by now. I am over 2 years clean and sober now, and I now volunteer at Broadway Lodge. It is my favourite thing to do – being able to give back to the place that saved my life. Today, I have the strongest relationship with my family I have ever had, and I feel like I am the person I was always meant to be. I am happy, I am grateful, and I am free from the ties of addiction.
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Jeremy drank to mask unhappiness, fear and anger for decades but now life has completely changed