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My personal story of living with substance misuse

16 Jun 2017

(This is a story taken from The Stables' monthly newsletter, that we are sharing as part of Carers' Week)

My personal story of living with substance misuse

Michelle, a peer mentor for Adfam in Greenwich shares her story of growing up with substance misuse and how it also affected her adult life. Michelle shares her story in the hope that someone will read it who is currently being impacted by a loved ones substance misuse and realise that they are not alone and support is available in Greenwich at The Stables SE7.

My mum was a revolving alcoholic; she would spend long periods of time drunk punctuated by long spells of being sober. As a child I remember that mum would dabble in other drugs in addition to drinking alcohol, including amphetamines and prescription drugs.

Growing up

At home my childhood environment was intense and hectic and I experienced my mum’s behaviour as full of outbursts and drama as my mum would act chaotically and often inappropriately. There were spells when mum would be functioning well, going to work, cooking and we were having family meals and things felt pretty normal. This normality would be shattered by perhaps that evenings kiss goodnight that detected "that smell" the strange smell of vodka on my mother’s breath. Prior to this moment I would have felt the slight shift through her mummy scent changing slightly, a quietness, lowered mood and the comments my mum would make while watching her usual soaps. Later the other telling signs would appear such as the half a bottle of vodka hidden in the laundry basket, the locked doors, and the lies.

Reading the signs and waiting for the chaos

I learnt to read the signs that my mum was going to descend into drinking and drug taking long before the chaos hit and sometimes the waiting was the scariest bit. Waiting for it all to kick off, the argument, police and my mum’s out of control behaviour. My eldest sister (I had 4 siblings) became the responsible parent even though she was only a child herself. Then slowly but surely the responsibility fell onto my shoulders as a young person.

It seemed we were stewing in my mother’s overwhelming misery and heartbreak. And the bitterness that arose from her when she drank was often directed at me through her venom and spite. She always knew just what to say– I think it is emotional abuse – that’s what it is.

Making changes and meeting my ex husband

I have had extensive therapy regarding taking myself out of the carers role of caring for my mum and siblings, focusing on my life instead of others in my family. I had learnt to put effective strong boundaries in place to protect myself which included moving home and not telling anyone where I had moved to. I also got back into education where I studied psychology.

It was after all these changes I had made in my life that I met my ex-husband. He was a trustworthy man and we married and moved in together. So it blew me away when I found out that he was doing drugs and I felt a huge sense of betrayal. I had been so in tune with when things are going good and when things are going bad…and so for me to miss that all in my husband only realising towards the end was devastating.

Finding support for myself

So I got in contact with Adfam to get support for myself and our marriage. I had one to one support sessions at Change Grow Learn (CGL) and I went to Peter’s information sessions at The Beresford Project. It was in Peter’s group sessions I found my anchor and was able to think straight. After having my own journey of recovery I wanted to support others like me. So I trained as mentor about a year ago.

Monthly surgeries at The Stables SE7

Join me for a coffee and a chat. I hold a monthly surgery on a Wednesday morning between 10-11am at The Stables SE7. I know how group support might not be for everyone or sometimes you might feel you need extra support in addition to group and professional support.

Booking a support session with Michelle

If you would like to a book a coffee and a chat with Michelle please contact the Family Support Manager Emma Spielger on 0203 817 9410