So here I am attempting to write my experiences over the last three-four years with Fulfilling Lives and I’m feeling completely lost in a swarm of emotions, some good, some bad and some very ugly indeed… I just don’t know where to start! It is the thought of not knowing where to start though, that is in fact spurring me on to put pen to paper to mark the start of the end of my journey, end of FL but just the start for me!!
It’s a chilly start to the day in my one-bedroom council flat in my Little Village with my now one-year-old dog, but I am grateful for this every morning. One thing I like to do is stir in positive thoughts/ daily intentions into my first coffee alongside saying aloud a few things I am grateful for, as to be able to be doing this is a far cry from being where I have been in even just the years whilst working with Fulfilling Lives. Homeless (churches/streets/temp accommodation/sofa surfing and waking up in a dark & dirty paraphernalia trashed bush next to – God only knows who after yet another drink and drug-fuelled night!!) Hence the gratitude for where I am and what I am still maintaining – as this never came naturally. In fact, it was around this time two years ago that I’d be waking up from an induced coma after attempting to take my own life and thinking my first thought ‘I couldn’t even do that properly!!’
So, I have had two FL workers since being referred to them, my first being for around a year and the remainder with the other. I think it’s more like four years than three, but I can honestly say that having this significant chunk of time with a service and a consistent worker has in fact saved my life.
I live on my own today and out of any co-dependent unhealthy relationship, with my one year-old dog, in a council flat with a secure tenancy in a new town to when I started and it’s clean tidy and full of little hobbies, crafts books and interests and it’s here that I enjoy my own company illicit drug-free. It is just a stone’s throw away from the local woods and rec, it’s here I find daily walks, sketching, reading, writing also meeting other dog walkers and dogs for a general muddy chit chat to pass the time! To many people, this might seem boring and very slow-paced but for me it’s just perfect for now.
I’ve spent most my life in chaos and had a social worker, keyworker, counsellor or probation worker in my life and the time of referral was no different. I was on a burn out with no brakes and no thought of slowing down! I’d been in children’s home/secure units, psychiatric hospital, detox and prison – I was also a heroin, crack and methadone user for twenty yrs or more, intentionally homeless and in an emotionally/physically tiring DV relationship. I didn’t have much to wake up and look forward to. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention I also gained something else to help me plunge into more social despair, my partner and I at the time had been served an anti-social behaviour order and had our mug shots plastered all over the news and national/local papers. So I continued to be just that and lived up to the title! Street drinking in the centre of town – Did I mention I was also an alcoholic!!
Anyways, by now you should be feeling relieved as I do with what seemed before to be a boring existence in my local woods with my pup is the beginning of a new existence for me… none of which I could have done without FL and the continued encouragement and never wavering support from my worker! With his help I attended my appointments, I was able to put everything out there from all failing angles of my life into JUST ONE MEETING and ONE PROFESSIONAL but a joint focus on getting things sorted, be it health, housing, relationships, benefits, access to detox and even a women’s refuge when I found myself needing that later too. Nothing ever seemed unobtainable or not achievable and when I wanted to give up trying or just accept things to be just as is.. nothings gonna change attitude, my worker would ask me to break it into a small goal or hold myself accountable for attending a certain apt, give things a go or just see how it pans out!!
Over time my other keyworkers from different areas of my life got to know that I had a Fulfilling Lives worker and from what I noticed they liaised together or would wait for an update email from my FL worker instead of me repeating my story day in and day out.. telling each worker the same thing which then left me time to focus on improving my life and working on getting out of my lifelong rut rather than focusing on staying in it! This was also helpful when having the option for my worker to have consent to talk to everyone on my behalf even down to my utilities, I guess slowly unburdening me with the smaller tasks to have the patience and strength to take on the big stuff!!
It hasn’t mattered where I’ve been physically or emotionally along my journey – the quality of my outreach sessions remained so high. We’d pick up weekly where we left off last week and there was always a continued feeling of progress no matter how many knockbacks and setbacks we’d be faced with. I know this was the case because of where I’m at now too.
My time with FL is coming to an end, which will leave a massive big FL shaped hole in my life but I feel ready and it’s the first exit of a service that I feel I could’ve even planned at the right time. For this reason, I haven’t wanted to go into too much detail or into specifics but I would like to bullet point things I’ve overcome or achieved with FL’s help. Finally, is there anything that I wish was done differently? I’ve thought about it hard and in all honesty, it’s a no!!
Thank you Fulfilling Lives and especially to my amazing 2 workers!!
Achievements with FL support:
- Council flat – secure tenancy
- Moved to a new town (3 times)
- 5 week detox for alcohol/methadone
- Illicit drug free
- No longer alcohol dependent
- Independent living- bills, cleaning, shopping
- Weekly script
- Improved self worth, awareness and love.
- Hepatitis C free (completed 8 week treatment)
- Responsibly owning a pet for a year- pet insurance, jabs, food and health
- 1st adult passport
- 1st adult holiday
- Relationship with son no longer supervised contact through social services
- In recovery for over a year from self harm (lifelong battle)
- No offending behaviour
- Healed a longstanding leg ulcer through engaging regularly with appointments.