5 Years Ago: For My Recovery Worker.

This is a bittersweet journal entry to review as I discovered that the person who was key to my recovery from opiate dependency and addiction has recently passed away. I’m writing this in her memory and in thought of her family and friends, she was an amazing person and I can only imagine the loss felt to those close to her.

Five years ago I’d moved to Cornwall in a bid to find recovery and move forward with my life after a stressful and traumatic few years. My school teacher who had abused me and others was in prison as I’d been blessed with the good fortune of finding justice, many do not have such a luxury and have to pursue closure or acceptance in other ways, I remain grateful that I did not have to face this and found the acknowledgement needed to move on.

I’d stopped using heroin and was relying on a methadone prescription from the local drug service. I was assessed by a GP and Recovery Worker from the drug service and had to see them both every other week. I was incredibly lucky to be allocated this lovely lady as my Recovery Worker, she was frank, insightful and incredibly supportive. When I talked to her about moving away from North Devon to start over away from my partner who also used heroin she was full of praise and encouragement, she was also concerned about how vulnerable I may be to new influence and made every effort to keep me away from using circles. I found my worker easy to speak with and she got to know me as a person not just as an addict, she would encourage my aims and ideas, empowering me to find my own way to recovery.

It was mentioned early on by the GP that I may benefit from residential detox and rehab but I was against it, I wanted to do my detox and rehab at home with my dog Charlie and the support of nature and solitude available at all times, these were my protective factors and thankfully my Recovery Worker understood this and supported me to make it happen. The GP was quite suspicious of me at first and I’m sure he thought I was on some sort of blag with my prescription but I’d moved to Cornwall to take recovery seriously and my Recovery Worker recognised that and championed my case, I’ll remain ever grateful for this. The journal entry that follows was key to me achieving recovery and my worker was quick to recognise the opportunity and the change it provoked in my attitude to detoxing from methadone.

Friday 25th September 2015

I said yesterday jokingly that ‘it was the day of the weed’ as I joined D and S for a little smoke near Madron Holy Well, a beautiful old church and sacred site. I’d been worrying as I couldn’t get hold of Marcel and assumed he was fishing at sea as there was no signal on his phone but disaster had struck! He was arrested and is being held on remand in Exeter prison whilst he waits for court. He was arrested for intent to supply and they found the massive crop of weed in the flat and he had a small amount of heroin on him, not good with his previous. It’s gutting really as he was trying so hard, working on the trawler, making some effort to be responsible and pay the bills. I told him to keep a low profile but he’s never been much good at that!

Why don’t the police focus on bigger fish, like big drugs producers and traffickers, those that exploit others and use slave labour to keep up there business not just the bottom feeder users who are just struggling to maintain their habits. In a time of restricted budgets and resources it would surely make sense to focus on preventing the real harm and that’s done by organised crime not day to day users, it’s the big organised crime that leads to the serious harm on society.

If it was decriminalised, at least for personal use and personal supply then they could focus on preventing the larger scale supply, and if cannabis was legalised then those who are skilled at growing it could use their skills and it could be taxed and used responsibly, so many people self-medicate with cannabis, it seems wrong to punish people for trying to help themselves especially when mental health services are so unreliable and hard to access. It all feels so ancient and outdated, I thought the UK was a progressive and modern state but we seem so behind compared to others like Portugal, things have improved there since decriminalisation, why can’t we heed the example and do the same here. It just feels so old fashioned and a bit stuffy, it keeps us stuck and there are so many advantages to decriminalising cannabis at least, a pilot should be run to test it out, why are we so stuck on this matter, it just ends with people getting involved with criminal justice services when really they have a healthcare or mental health need, a waste of resources on so many levels.

I spoke to Marcels mum who is all worried about his job and flat, I contacted his boss on the boat and he agreed it was pathetic that he’d been arrested and would have a job to return to, if he gets out within the month then his flat should be safe too. I was quite upset and prayed that Marcel is coping ok. I’m trying to see the positives, perhaps this happened for a reason, to save him from some other terrible fate like a drunken overdose or horrendous accident at sea, who knows but I must trust it’s for some reason. It does give me the chance to just focus on myself and my journey now, perhaps now I can make a real plan to detox, depends what happens at court and if he gets out or not, if he does do some prison time then I will see that as my detox opportunity as I won’t have the worry of him and his recklessness, it is hard to switch off, I worry all the time about him as he gets in such a state.

Been awake since 1.20am, I was a bit sore and tender after all the physical effort on the voluntary project, I took a little methadone and dozed a bit but my head was racing with worries and tension over Marcel. I had an energising bath with Neroli, Rose and Lemon essential oils and then a Chamomile foot and hand rub. I was looking at myself naked and the scar on my groin and arms from injecting, when I was sex working my body didn’t feel like my own, now it’s a record of the life lived, the scars form a map, and they will serve as a permanent reminder of where I’ve been and where I don’t want to ever return to.

I lit candles this morning for Marcel to send him love and hope.

I saw the GP and my recovery worker this week, all was fine, I got my blood borne virus result, all clear which is good, also had my final Hepatitis vaccine so that’s all sorted now. My urine test was positive for methadone only of course! The GP kept questioning if I was tempted to use and just seemed unsure about my progress. Thankfully my recovery worker was positive and said that I’m doing all the right things and to keep it up, she was pleased with the daily routine I’d created and my efforts with eating and building up strength. I don’t want to be forced down a route that’s not for me, I don’t want to do detox and rehab in a residential setting as I know I’d play the perfect patient and do it all without issue but then when home alone I’d have to make adjustments, I’d rather just do it at home and let the changes happen organically, I also can’t handle the thought of being separated from Charlie, he’s key to my positive attitude and desire to change, would be silly to be away from him when he motivates me so much, and I’d go crazy not being able to be alone or go for walks when I want, I know what I need to do, I just have to stay firm with the GP!

It’s now 6.45am so time to take Charlie out for a nice walk and wake up for the day. Got to be positive!!!

My lovely Recovery Worker supported me all through my detox from methadone, always telling me that she didn’t do much, that it was my effort and plans but her support was key to my confidence, she kept telling me I knew what I needed to do and to follow my instincts, she helped me find a trust in myself again. She was so proud of me when I completed my detox at home, and when Marcel sadly died of an overdose when he got out of prison a year later I phoned my recovery worker, I wasn’t engaged with drug services at this point but she took the time to talk to me and told me to get home to Cornwall asap as she knew North Devon was a vulnerable place for me, she told me it wasn’t my fault and that if I needed to see her I could on my return, our brief chat grounded me and thankfully I didn’t go back to using heroin, although I was tempted when surrounded by my old using acquaintances and trying to manage the intensity of grief. I didn’t need to see drugs services again and actually ended up working for the service, I remember my Recovery Worker walking into the office on my first day, when she saw me she was overjoyed and became tearful, she said it was the best gift ever to see me in the place as a worker, she was proud of me and that meant so much, it still does. I’m utterly shocked at the news that she has passed away, a loss to many, a loss to the world, she helped me and I’ve no doubt she helped countless others. A wonderful woman who certainly left a very special impact on the world, she left a special impact in my life, heart and spirit. Blessed be xxx

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am the thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow, I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the mornings hush, I am the swift uplifting rush, of quiet birds in circled flight, I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die. By anon.

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