I Was Hurt, Confused and Lacked Direction

My name is A. and I recently turned 23 years old. I have been living at ONE80TC for the past 12 months and just graduated from the program in March 2015.

I grew up in the St George area and lived with my mother. I never really had anything to do with my father, who I only met twice when I was around 8 years old. Last year I found out my biological father passed away.

By the age of 2 ½ my mother was in a long term relationship with a man who I call my step-father. From an early age I remember my mother and stepfather talking about drugs and regularly drinking alcohol.

I had my first cigarette around 5 or 6 years old, given to me by my stepfather. It was also around this age I was first sexually abused by a family member.

All my memories growing up represent total dysfunction. My family moved a lot with my stepfather in and out of jail. From kindergarten to year 6 I attended 10 different primary schools.

Maybe the main thing I remember growing up is my mum always saying, “kids should be seen and not heard”. Like anyone, I craved the attention of my parents, but never really got any. It made me feel undervalued.

By around 9 years old I remember being asked to pack marijuana into separate bags. I was also asked to carry these bags around in my underwear and retrieve them at the request of my mother’s boyfriend. I didn’t know that wasn’t normal at the time.

Periodically my mother and stepfather would get back together, things would seem good for a while. There were less arguments at home and I was doing well at school, especially in sport. Even still, by mid-teens I started experimenting with drugs.

When I turned 15 I learnt that my stepfather was again leaving my mum, but this time it was to be with another man. My mother fell into a deep depression and no longer paid any attention to what I was doing. I stopped going to school and my drug taking got worse.

I was frequently drinking and using drugs at this time of my life.

I was hurt, confused and lacked direction. I didn’t care for anything, especially myself.

I was in and out of jobs, my main focus was just the next hit or next drug I could get hold of. I’m not sure when, but at some stage I had become addicted to ice, cannabis, alcohol, and pretty much anything else that was offered.

By time I turned 18 I started suffering from psychotic episodes, one of which resulted in my first admission to the mental health unit of St George Hospital. I was prescribed medication, which seemed to help at first, but, in truth, I continued to take the many illegal substances and was involved in a toxic relationship.

I regularly suffered from extreme paranoia and anxiety.

Over the next few years I continued to use, getting into trouble with the police, being arrested but never for anything serious.

In 2012 I was arrested and convicted of a serious offence which resulted in a sentence of incarceration for a period of 8 months.

While in jail I ended up sharing a cell with my step father – the longest amount of time I’d had with him, and the closest we’d ever been.

My partner at the time, the mother of my daughter, ended our relationship of 4 years leaving me for somebody twice my age.

Again, I was hurt, lost and really felt like I’d hit rock bottom.

Still in jail, I met another inmate that spoke to me about the possibility of going to rehab. I met with the prison counsellor and they informed me about ONE80TC.

In October 2012 I was released from prison and bailed to ONE80TC. I spent over 11 months in the program but realised I still wasn’t taking rehabilitation seriously. Though I was offered support, great teaching, and opportunity, my focus was still set on self-destruction.

I continued to drink and kept using drugs on weekend leaves and did my best just to cover things up.

With only weeks to go, I was asked to leave the program without graduation as I had broken program expectations too many times.

I left, got work but continued drinking and taking drugs. Before I knew it my life was out of control again. My relationship with my family was tense and strained and I found myself with no money, no place to stay and now unemployed.

I knew I had to get my life sorted as I constantly found myself saying “there must be more to life than what I’m doing”.

So I decided to reapply to ONE80TC and attempt to finish what I’d started.

I was accepted back into the program and returned in March 2014 – twelve months ago. This time I knew what I was doing and wanted to take it seriously.

Since being back in the program I feel like my life has dramatically changed for the better.

I feel more confident about myself, my future and now look forward to the rest of my life. I have had the opportunity to grow, learn and take ownership over my life. I have experienced true, clean joy and learnt the power of taking responsibility through my actions.

I have begun rebuilding a solid relationship with my daughter, becoming a constant in her life and developing a health father connection.

I have a relationship with God, which helps me understand that I’ve been designed with a plan and a purpose for my life.

Over the past twelve months I have been regularly seeing a psychiatrist and having my mental health managed properly. This has led to a diagnosis of having a Schizoaffective Disorder. This has been addressed through medication and monitoring and I feel the most mentally stable I have in a long time.

I do not consider things like anxiety and paranoia to be an issue anymore – whereas they used to be a constant battle every day of my life. Through ONE80TC I have been equipped with the ability to put my own coping mechanisms in place to overcome any hint of them returning.

I am so thankful for the ONE80TC program and all of the people that have helped me, believed in me and supported me.

If it wasn’t for this program I don’t know where I’d be, what I would be doing, what the future would look like or what my relationship with my daughter might have become.

I am the happiest I have ever been and am excited at the opportunity to come on board with ONE80TC as an intern.

I am determined to make the most of all opportunities and hope to continue learning and building towards a fulfilled, flourishing life.

Help others to do the same, support the life changing work of ONE80TC.

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