I have a vivid memory of myself at 20 years of age sitting in a stranger’s bath. I don’t know how I got to that house but could vaguely remember getting into a car with three men the night before.They’d promised me money and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in return for a “party”.
I felt so down the next morning that I looked at a razor blade and seriously considered ending it all.
Instead I just lay there while the men I’d come home with were in the next room drinking and smoking drugs.
As a young girl growing up in the suburbs I could never have imagined sinking so low.
Even though my parents divorced when I was 10 we were a normal, loving family. After the split my dad went to live in Wales and I stayed with my mum and older sister in the south of England.
When I was about 14 I started smoking and drinking with friends. Sometimes I took amphetamines and LSD. It was stupid to get into drugs but I just saw it as normal teenage rebellion.
However, at 16 I started to develop deep feelings of anxiety. Now I know they were part of a condition known as social phobia but I couldn’t cope as a teenager and I started self–harming.The pain helped distract me from my emotions. I couldn’t turn to my parents because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I just felt ashamed and embarrassed.
By the time I got to sixth–form college at 17 I was smoking 20 cannabis joints a day. It helped to ease the anxiety, as did alcohol.
I can’t pinpoint the cause of my problems though the family break–up probably didn’t help as I always felt different from everyone else as a child.
I left home to go to University College London to study English literature and German when I was 18 and I dreamed of being a teacher or a writer.
By this time though I was seriously addicted to alcohol and would carry a bottle with me everywhere I went.
During the first year of university I got glandular fever and was too ill to carry on so I had to go back home and live with my mum.
I’d hide booze under the bed and got away with appearing sober.
In my second year I had to apply for house shares but kept turning up to interviews drunk.
After one disastrous meeting I picked up a man in a bar and he offered me a place to stay. With a fair amount of alcohol inside me, it fair amount of alcohol inside me, it seemed a reasonable thing to do and I lived with him for five months.
Over the next few years this became a habit. Men would give me money for the night or take me in.
I’d more or less given up with university as I was too ill. They eventually awarded me a degree on the basis that if I’d been well enough I would have passed.
I was desperate to find out why I was so unhappy and needed to drink. I tried everything from cognitive behavioural therapy to antidepressants but nothing worked. NHS alcohol services couldn’t see me because I always came in drunk.
Things eventually got too much and at 21 I attempted suicide by overdosing on paracetamol.
When I woke up in hospital the next day mum and dad were standing by the bed.
They had no idea how I’d been living. They told me that if I didn’t admit myself to a mental hospital they would have me sectioned.
they would have me sectioned. I had no choice and went to a place in London. I was put on an addiction programme but they threw me out after a month for smuggling in alcohol.
AT 23 I was drinking a litre–and–a–half of gin every day and my GP told me I had a year to live. At the time I didn’t care and would have been happy for my life to end.
Eventually mum told me about NLP, or neuro linguistic programming, which she had read could be good for treating anxiety and phobias.
I had no idea what it involved but was willing to try anything.
The 90–minute session consisted of visualisation techniques and tapping areas of the body to break the pattern of thoughts.
I learned that phobic responses are triggered by memories (usually stored as pictures, mental “movies'” and sensations). For me, if I thought about going outside I immediately saw a “movie” of the last time I did. I would feel the same terror it had caused, accompanied by a tight feeling in my chest and then panicky thoughts about going out again.
NLP interrupts that process by breaking the association between the memory and the phobic response. Practitioners calm the memory’s effects by changing it, such as interrupting the movie with tapping, or by changing the colours or sounds. This causes the body to respond more calmly.
I walked out of the practitioner’s feeling so much better. For some, NLP can take away anxiety instantly and for the first time in my life I wasn’t scared and felt hopeful. I almost skipped home.
However, although it can help elements of addiction (reducing cravings, for example) it can’t cure it and I was still drinking heavily.
Then my dad told me about another form of therapy, DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy). It teaches you to change negative into positive thinking.
Despite earlier relapses it was a combination of DBT and the support of Alcoholics Anonymous that enabled me to stop drinking for good in 2010.
Being sober has completely changed my life. I’m so much happier and healthier and it’s amazing to be able to think clearly and make commitments.
The best thing about the new me is that in 2010 I qualified as an NLP practitioner.
Since 2011 I’ve also qualified in life coaching, EFT (emotional freedom technique), hypnotherapy and mentoring.
I’m very lucky and things could have turned out so differently but I’ve written a book about my experiences and I am determined to give others hope.
The Happy Addict: How To Be Happy In Recovery From Alcoholism Or Drug Addiction, by Beth Burgess (Eightball Publishing, £9.99) is available on amazon.co.uk
Today’s story is shared from the following website: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/417321/I-am-proof-that-anyone-can-turn-their-life-around-How-to-battle-your-demons