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Katie’s Road to Recovery
I’ve always been a hard worker: at school, at college, in my hospitality career and bringing up my daughter. But looking back (I’m now 35), I worked the hardest at hiding my drug dependence and mental health problems from my family, friends, colleagues and employers.
Controlling My Emotions
From an early age I was crippled by feelings of low self-worth and lack of belief in myself. I probably had depression, but I just thought that was the way you felt growing up. I started using drugs at 13 in an attempt to control my emotions and feel ‘normal’.
At first it was marijuana and alcohol, but I’ve also used amphetamines and pharmaceutical drugs. Drinking and drug-taking became a regular part of my life.
I managed to complete school and hoped to be a professional tennis player, but my career went downhill at 18 so I turned to coaching others, but it wasn’t as satisfying.
I studied hospitality and tourism management and eventually achieved a Diploma with double honours, but I sometimes couldn’t get to class or complete course work because of my drug use.
I enjoyed hospitality, but it wasn’t enough to stop me using alcohol and other drugs. I sometimes went to work under the influence and my performance suffered. If I was feeling really bad, I’d call in sick. I was sacked from two jobs, and after that I would resign before my employer could sack me.
I did try a few short detox and rehab programs, but they just scratched the surface and I would soon go back to using.
The Turning Point
My family eventually became aware of my drug dependence and I’m grateful for their support, particularly when I separated from my daughter’s father when she was three. My sister and grandparents also looked after her eight years later when I finally entered Odyssey House in September 2013.
I started in the Withdrawal Unit and then entered the Residential Rehabilitation Program to undertake what’s turned out to be a 12-month ‘odyssey’ to identify and deal with my personal issues, drug dependence and mental illness, and relearn ways of living without drugs.
Changing Was Hard, But I Got There
I thought about leaving every day for the first few months, first because I found it confronting and uncomfortable to change my thinking and behaviours, and later because I thought I’d learned enough. Thankfully my peers and Odyssey House staff convinced me I was worth the effort. As I know now, when you’ve been in addiction and living with mental health issues for twenty years, it takes more than a few months to get your feet firmly on the road to recovery.
I’m proud to say I will officially graduate at Celebrate Recovery Day 2014 on 26 October. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my family, and getting back to work. I’m still interested in hospitality, but I’ve been inspired my experience at Odyssey House, so I’m also considering a Diploma of Community Services.
There is no longer any need to hide who I really am…and my new life begins at 35!