Unlike before, my life is now all about service and giving and helping others. I am proud and grateful of what I do and who I am today, and I share my story as an open book, in order to help others.
My life before was chaos. Drama. Lots of drinking and partying. Lots of drugs. Lots of late nights. Lots of bad decisions. That was normal to me. And that lasted over 25 years.
I’ve come to believe that I was born with addiction, after remembering feelings of shame from an early age of three years old. I picked up alcohol after my parents divorced when I was ten and my brother and I moved to a different house with our mum. This is where I remember her pain and sadness and recognised that she drank more than normal. I started smoking and drinking at twelve years old. I thought all kids did it. I loved smoking and I loved the feeling of what alcohol did to me.
My perfect home life was broken and there was lots of sadness and anger there from then on. There were many good times, but there was also lots of disturbance and aggression that I believe I took on board and yet never spoke about. I was living with shame. I went to a good school, but this means nothing when you start detaching yourself. I thought it was normal to go and get a bottle of Thunderbirds and go to the park and get drunk. Clearly it wasn’t. My poor mum would have to come and collect me from my friend’s house, being sick, not caring. I caused a lot of pain for my mum over a good few years. I still carry that with me today. This is where the madness started for me. I drank because I liked what it did to me, not realising that blackout drinking is not a fun thing and most certainly not a normal thing.
When my mum died, I picked up drugs. I was 15
So life went on. Swings and roundabouts. Then came the moment that changed the course of my life forever: my mum sadly died, very unexpectedly, after a routine operation when I was 15. My world was turned upside down again.
When my mum died, I picked up drugs. I was 15. It happened in the middle of my GCSEs. On the Saturday morning, my mum died, and on the Monday morning, I was in school sitting my Maths GCSE. That whole period is very blurred, but the long and short of it is, my brother and I were allowed to stay living together at home. From that moment on, there was a lot of pain, anger and upset, and drugs started to appear. We lived alone. We could smoke in the house now. Despite the fact that there were no rules really, my brother and I committed to staying at school, finishing education and moving forward, which was no mean feat.
I managed to finish my GCSEs and A Levels, and then go to The London College of Fashion. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I was always so stoned, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. I don’t think my school really knew what to do with me. I don’t think anyone did.
When I was at college, this was the era when the Ministry of Sound launched and the club scene in the West End was starting to explode. I wanted in. This is where my love affair with ecstasy and cocaine started. I was part of something. I belonged. I was accepted. I loved it. Or so I thought at the time.
I had an amazing career spanning over 20 years, launching, operating, and running all the high end nightclubs in the West End of London. I started as a cloakroom girl in a club called Legends, the hottest club in town. I was in college at the time, and mixed working weekends with studying. It was hard but I managed to pass all my exams. Then I went full time into club work.
I didn’t even know what was transpiring as I slipped deeper and deeper
Strangely enough, I made a very successful career out of moving and growing in the industry. This clearly fuelled my addiction to drink and drugs. I didn’t know what was transpiring as I slipped deeper and deeper. I thought everyone did what I did – in my world anyway. Drinking and drugging was part of life. Most weekends, I would end up so messy. I don’t know why I wanted to go back and do the same again.
My career spanned over 20 years. Some amazing memories. Some great venues. Some truly mind boggling events and parties. However, during my whole time doing this, I never had any confidence. Despite the promises this lifestyle offered, I always felt like I didn’t really belong and I never felt like I fitted in. I started to live within a prison of self. Drinking and drugs gave me the confidence I needed, but I always took it too far. There was no moderation in my life.
During my 30s, I fell in love and had a relationship with someone that lasted pretty much a decade. This took me on a journey of heavy drug use, abuse, sadness, love, happiness, and co-dependency – the craziest 10 years of my life. The happiest, the saddest. I couldn’t get out. I didn’t want to get out, I did want to get out. By the end, I felt trapped, alone and totally lost. When it was good, it was great and when it was bad, it was really bad. Again I kept it to myself, ashamed that I was in this situation. Ashamed that this wasn’t where I should be. I honestly didn’t know what to do. I had lost my voice. Shattered from the machine of life.
The dread of having to go to work on a Monday morning would sometimes be too much for me to cope with. Debilitating anxiety started to creep in. Literally counting the hours until I could get back home to my safe place. I don’t know how I did it. Again and again and again… This was normal for me. So many wasted years.
I felt like I didn’t fit in. I didn’t belong
When I was 40, and after my dad had died, I decided to leave London and give Dubai a go. It was not what I expected and didn’t work out well there for me. Again, I felt like I didn’t fit in. I didn’t belong. I lasted two years before coming back to London. The whole experience was a big ball of utter chaos. Again. Funny that!
The heavy socialising that went on there, always accompanied by excessive alcohol, broke me. I don’t think there was more than a day or two that I was sober in the whole two years of being in Dubai. I started to isolate myself and was ashamed of what I had become. I had put on so much weight and my whole body was in pain. I have always had a rollercoaster of a ride with my weight. I always trained but when I drank and ate, I would put one weight, and when I was on some crazy arse diet (which there were many over the years), I would lose weight and feel amazing. Up and down like a yoyo.
Everything in my life was extreme. Every aspect of my being was “all or nothing”. Training, eating, work, relationships, drinking, drugging. I didn’t know what balance was. There was no such thing as “just one”… and that’s with everything and anything.
When I finally returned back to the UK, I was arrested for being drunk and disorderly on a night out with my girlfriend, and subsequently woke up still drunk in Lewisham Police Station filled with utter shame and fear of what I had become. Thank god, it was my first offence and I was cautioned for possession of cocaine. This was it. This was my final rock bottom. There was no more road to walk. It was finally over. Thank god! At this point suicide had crossed my mind. I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t work anymore. I couldn’t function any more. I just wanted to hide away. I had nothing more to give.
Looking back, I had had many rock bottoms, but just didn’t realise that at the time. I just kept on going. I was never going to stop. God finally intervened and said “no more”.
Part of my caution was that I attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre called Blenheim, based very close to my home. I didn’t know that this was the beginning of a new life for me. I was eager to stay sober. It wasn’t a problem. I always enjoyed my sober time when I committed to dieting or exercising. I just never stayed sober.
I had nothing left inside to give. I was open to anything anyone would suggest
I had to be breathalysed every Friday at Blenheim and I had forms and questionnaires to fill in each week. My key worker would just sit and listen to me for hours and hours. She was a wonderful, wonderful lady. Her name was Mary. She saved me. She was the one that suggested perhaps I look at recovery and maybe try a meeting. I was so scared. I was so broken. I was so fearful of my own shadow. I had nothing left inside to give. I was open to anything anyone would suggest.
I will always remember both my key worker and the Drug Counsellor at Lewisham Police Station. They changed and, most of all, saved my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but I recognise that now.
After five years in recovery, I decided to go back and track them both down. I wanted to show them my gratitude. It was a God job. Nicky the CGL Officer had just arrived at work when I arrived at the station. I shared my story with her and it was very emotional. I then went on to track down Mary from the rehab centre. She had since retired, but some very helpful people put me in the right direction and Mary and I have exchanged emails. What a wonderful thing to have done; to thank the women that gave me my new life.
Mary literally saved my life by finding me my first twelve-step meeting. I remember arriving there the first week after Mary suggested it and I was so fearful I just froze. I watched everyone walk in, but I just turned away and walked back home. I was so disappointed with myself. I explained to Mary what had happened and she just gently said, “try again next week”. Which I did. And again, I failed. The following week, I was determined. I took a deep breath, I walked up the stairs and I remember walking into the room and asking gently, “Am I in the right place?” and someone said, “where do you want this to be?” The people in that room that night took hold of me and gave me what I so desperately needed and longed for: hope.
I channeled all the energy, pain and chaos that was going on inside of me from my addiction into exercise
At first, in early recovery, I picked up food as a replacement substance and found myself a size 18. How on earth did I get here? I quickly realised I needed to do something about this. I channelled all the energy, pain and chaos that was going on inside of me from my addiction into exercise. Exercise has become my life. Recovery is my life. Service to others is my life.
When I was two months sober, I decided to go to my safe place for my recovery and for a rest – to try and get me back to me. This was in Koh Samui Thailand. I had been travelling there for many years and it was familiar to me. It was always my detox place. My sober place. There was a huge recovery community there and many meetings. All I did, every day, was wake at 06:30, go for a walk or jog, then go to the gym, then go to a meeting. Everything was 200 metres from my door. There were no excuses. Now hard work had to come into play.
I managed to drop 35kg from a size 18 to 8 in the first nine months. Sheer hard work and determination allowed my first dream to come true – to lose weight naturally and keep it off. I suddenly felt like me. I had some confidence. I liked who I saw in the mirror.
My life has now changed beyond my wildest dreams, as things were very different in my past, when addiction was ruling my behaviour. My whole life was bad decisions, bad behaviours, bad outcomes. Chaos only leads to more chaos.
It hasn’t been easy. I have fallen many times. Made crazy silly mistakes along the way. But, by falling, I have learned invaluable lessons. I now know today what works and what doesn’t. My life had to change. I had to change. Recovery has given me the tool box I needed. It’s given me the answers I have been searching for all my life. It’s given me freedom.
Everything in recovery is a work in progress
For the last two years, I have been running a boot camp and weight loss centre in Samui. This allowed me to go back into my career of launching and building new businesses. It was my first job since coming into recovery. It was scary. Could I do it? I had to learn to be around people again. Having to deal with a launch of a new business, which is a lot of pressure. Some old habits crept back in, but I was able to identify which ones didn’t work and I was able to change them. Everything in recovery is a work in progress.
I was in service to others. I have learnt so much and hopefully helped change people’s lives too, along the way. It has given me a new life. I help people now. I understand and have a deep connection with people who suffer from body image issues and low self-esteem. Since my own weight loss journey and recovery journey, I know the pain people are in. I have been able to help them get over the hardest hurdle, committing to coming to the boot camp. Once they arrive, they are handed over to the amazing trainers, and so their journey begins. It’s truly inspirational to watch their journeys. There used to be many tears of joy in my office.
Since working at the boot camp, being surrounded by fitness, it was time for me to get that piece of paper – my personal training (PT) qualification. It was not an easy decision. My default nearly won. I hadn’t studied in over 20 years. It was so scary, and I was so fearful of failure, but something inside of me just wouldn’t let this one go. I signed up and broke the study into manageable chunks. I could do two hours a day for six days a week and have Sundays off. So, being the perfect addict, I embarked on the most challenging part of my recovery to date.
Today, I can say that I am most proud of my studies and my sheer determination to never quit – to push through my barriers that I inflict on myself. I am excited to have just returned home from Spain, where I passed my PT (personal trainer) instructor exams with flying colours.
Recovery has given me so many gifts. It’s given me freedom of self
A 20 year dream has come true. I know everything comes to me at the perfect time. The most stressful thing about the course wasn’t the training or studying; it was actually being around strangers for two weeks, having to talk to people, having to learn new things, having to stand up in front of groups of people. This has been the most challenging thing to date, but – like everything – I managed it. I didn’t let my fear take over and win. Recovery has given me so many gifts. It’s given me freedom of self.
I hope to return to Thailand one day, as a fully qualified personal trainer. The next part of my journey begins here and who knows where it shall take me.
Recovery has allowed me to achieve so many amazing things. I have started running and I am smashing personal bests each and every month. Training goals, recovery goals. Through darkness always comes light. The pain is there to teach me. I shall never ever give up pushing myself. It’s uncomfortable, and doesn’t come naturally to me, but enough recovery has taught me that there is magic on the other side of the uncomfortable.
All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together for me. It’s not easy. There are dark times where I want out. I want to give up. I still today suffer such darkness at times. I have to do a lot of recovery work every morning to get my head into a place where I can manage life. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but there isn’t a day I haven’t shown up and worked the programme since coming in. My disease doesn’t give me a day off, so I cannot afford to have a day off either.
It’s quiet inside my head today. I never thought that was possible. But it is
What is different today is I am able to make better decisions. Not always, but most of the time. I don’t live in chaos any more. My circle is small but it’s trustworthy and reliable. I stay away from bad people. I stay away from drama. My life is simple, it’s happy and it’s easy. I have peace of mind. It’s quiet inside my head today. I never thought that was possible. But it is.
I’ve realised that I find being around people hard and exhausting. I am at my happiest alone. I love my own company. It’s my happy place. I have truly found out who I am and what I like. I have documented every day of my recovery since the beginning. The journey of self-discovery, of who I truly am. I know me inside out. Before I didn’t have a clue who I was. Just drifting through life, hoping things would someday change, not realising that I had to change for my life to change. It was that simple. The same things kept happening because I kept happening.
Recovery is the key to all. It’s not easy; it’s bloody hard and relentless at times, but showing up and taking part is a must if I have any chance of serenity each day. I have to put in the work for the work to work. Service to others is where the medicine is. Meetings are where the energy is.
There is so much love and support in recovery. It’s been the most amazing crazy journey I have ever embarked on. It’s been a game changer. It’s given me “me”.
To others struggling with addiction, I would say it’s never too late to come in and never give up once you make it in. Put in the hard work. It’s worth it. Walk through the darkness and pain. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, no matter how many times you may fall. There is magic to be had. Change only comes through change. I am now dedicated to transformation – both of life and body – and I am living proof that dreams do come true if you work for them.