So I’ve done it!! I’ve completed rehab, got the T-Shirt (and the certificate), more importantly I’ve got my self esteem and confidence back and believe there is a life without drugs.
24 Hours before I left rehab (when I would get my life back), and returned home, the countdown was on, I was literally clock watching. I felt like I had done the time, done the work, absorbed all the therapy sessions like a human sponge, I was ready to attack the world again. I’d been through every emotion possible, from extreme fear and anxiety a few weeks before, to the euphoric excitement in the days or week leading up to my departure and by the time I came to the point of leaving I was settled. Balanced and calm. Ready to go.
Throughout the programme of recovery you come across a vast array of people, some who knew it all (that was me, or so I thought), some who have been there and bought the t shirt, to the young lost souls who are, well, just confused and had lost direction.
One of the topics that would regularly arise would be ‘what happens when we walk through those gates once we’ve completed the programme? “The hard work starts now”, ” This is where it gets tough”, “Its like going on to the road on your own for the first time after passing your driving test”. These were all things that were said to me by fellow clients whilst I resided in rehab for the 16 weeks. I wasn’t really sure where I sat on the issue when I was there because to say the ‘hard work starts now’ kind of felt like it was undermining the 16 weeks or 400+ hours and 100’s of therapy sessions. To me it felt like the hard work started walking through those gates in the first place, or even just plucking up the courage originally when reaching out and asking for help and literally admitting that you have messed up beyond all belief and desperately need a hand to get your life back on track.
I kind of understood what people meant though after a couple of days of leaving rehab as it really did feel like I was in the car, for the first time on my own, with no emergency pedals to save me… Scary stuff.
I went back to my lovely family home, where I had a beautiful daughter, I had lost 4 stone and managed to build my fitness from not being able to run a mile, to completing 10 miles easily. My brains chemical balance was reaching its equilibrium (ish) and I had all the tools in my box to attack my addiction should it rear its ugly head again. I was armed and ready, confident not cocky, positive not complaisant and armed like a soldier to fight the biggest battle I’ve ever faced.
I had spent a lot of time during the 16 weeks in rehab working out who I could see again, who I couldn’t, where I could go and where I couldn’t, what I needed to do to execute ‘my plan’ which I had spent months of laying out, and do as much as I could to keep busy or distracted and at some point I would start to live a ‘normal’ life again!
It became apparent how difficult it would be the 2nd day I was back when I went to the gym, and I had a £10 note in my hand for the first time in ages I had money, my mind instantly thought, “I only need 4 of these and I can get a bag of cocaine”, that was literally my default mindset. even after hours of intensive therapy, but I managed to throw that thought away went into the shop to buy some what and it was out of my mind and moved on, but it was a quick reminder of how tough things will be.
I was going to need to make plans, and plenty of them and live my life on a day by day basis, not think about staying clean for a week or month but day by day, small, bite sized manageable chunks, the shear notion of ‘staying clean’ for the rest of my life made me feel overwhelmed and anxious but taking one day at a time it was less daunting.
I was extremely nervous about the prospect of being on my own for a sustained period of time. When I was with family and doing stuff with my daughter I was fine, but its those periods when you are on your own that’s when its tough, but ultimately you are left with the choice….. Pick up or don’t pick up, use or don’t use. It comes down to a simple choice but I was struggling to find other things to get excited about apart from my Daughter. Mistake number 1!
A few weeks out and life is good, I’m still abstinent, we’re talking about roughly 5 months of sobriety, I was going to the gym, eating and living healthily and rebuilding my life and relationships that I’d damaged over the years but I can certainly feel how hard it is going to be.
My biggest battle was getting trust back from people especially those closest to me, it was making me isolate myself again and I was falling into the isolation trap whereby the negative thoughts were becoming more frequent.
I’ve always been a 100 mph character, in work, life and play, and after rehab, not having a job and not being 100% focused on work definitely was having a negative effect on me. I kept thinking about what everyone was telling me “your recovery comes first”, but if you don’t work, cant pay the bills and you aren’t paying the mortgage, those financial worries can cause you to slip into your old thoughts and that in turn has an adverse effect on your recovery. I think as a general rule everyone is different. Some people can take a year off and go to meetings every day, some may need to take a few months off and others have to go straight back to work….. each to their own, everyone’s different and I think that is an error I made, I needed to get back into work straight away, keep busy and focused. I didn’t. Mistake number 2!!
At this point i’m in a good place, I’m battling and more nervous now than before I left rehab but i’m optimistic of the future and my recovery (just) One thing that scares me though is that I don’t feel like I have a lot of support and if I know anything, you cant do it on your own. I thought I could, but you cant, its simply not possible. Mistake number 3,
Now 8 weeks, 24 weeks and over 4000 hours clean and i’m hanging in there, but it feels like its getting harder not easier. The trust that been broken with my loved ones and looks irreparable, the accusations more frequent, my negative thoughts at the forefront of my mind and my likeliness to relapse IMMINENT. Wow i’m getting closer to that place again, the place I thought I would never get close to again. Hell on Earth.
It feels like i’m constantly stood on the edge of a cliff, balancing, making sure the wind doesn’t push me off, I need to move away from the edge and look at the view and enjoy life, but i’m slipping and a big gust on wind is across the bay, I can feel it In can sense it I can even see it coming, and then…….
Bang…. It hits me…..Like a ton of bricks, and i’m there, there again, back to the impossible place, straight off the cliff and back to the bottom.