Change is always possible , say Lisa Ogilvie and Jerome Carson , as they share their own journeys to recovery
EACH PERSON ’ S RECOVERY JOURNEY IS UNIQUE , and the
process is nonlinear . So what makes our two stories different ? Lisa used alcohol to make her mark on the world , or so she thought . Being able to consume extraordinary amounts of alcohol was a coveted talent when you were a young professional working on high-budget IT projects in the 2000s , and Lisa used this to justify chronic heavy drinking . Common sense tells us this is not sustainable , and that it puts one on a path toward alcoholism , something Lisa had to learn at great cost .
Jerome was a mental health professional , whose own father was an alcoholic . He could always falsely reassure himself that he was not as bad as his father . Following his move from the Institute of Psychiatry to the Maudsley Trust in 2006 , Jerome spent the next five years working in mental health recovery . He co-developed a number of recovery initiatives , including co-authoring three books , the best known of which is probably , Mental Health Recovery Heroes Past and Present . This used patient narratives to share individual journeys and show that recovery is possible . In this vein , we humbly offer our own stories .
LISA ’ S STORY
I clearly recall when my relationship with alcohol began – a relationship that endured for nearly 30 years . I was 15 and working a Saturday job stacking shelves in a supermarket . I enjoyed being with people who I felt had ‘ proper lives ,’ by virtue of not being at school . They regularly went to the pub , and when an invite was extended to me , I discovered a social life encompassing alcohol . It gave me confidence , it made me funny , clever , popular . I was no longer just a teenager wanting to fit in . There were so many positive possibilities .
As life unfolded , the same underlying principle continued . Alcohol was an enabler of good times , friendship and success . I had excelled at university , been head hunted by the age of 25 , and rewarded with an unreasonably large salary . Alcohol had proved to be a steadfast comrade – it let me show off , helped me stand out , and I believed it had even opened doors by oiling career-building conversations . A dependence had formed . I was aware of it , but actively welcomed it .
As time progressed , my dependence evolved . Alcohol increasingly became a crutch instead of an enabler , an excuse to socialise , a reason to relax , and sadly the source of what I believed happiness to be . In reality , it was an attempt to maintain the humorous , successful and caring employee , wife , daughter and mother I wanted to portray , all the while satisfying my growing need to consume alcohol at every possible opportunity . It worked for a while , so I thought – until it didn ’ t .
For many years , I had been sinking , using alcohol to manage the psychological and physical fallout of an addiction that I had unwittingly cultivated to the best of my ability . Time passed , the consequences grew , and not just for me . I was a damaging force to be around , especially to those I cared for . I was
‘ Alcohol was an enabler of good times , friendship and success . I had excelled at university , been head hunted by the age of 25 , and rewarded with an unreasonably large salary . Alcohol had proved to be a steadfast comrade – it let me show off , helped me stand out .’
desperately trying to survive , and to survive I had to have alcohol .
There was no coming back . My fulltime vocation , 24 / 7 , was as an alcoholic . It could not be hidden or denied anymore – it was too obvious , the consequences too embarrassingly typical . I faced a simple choice , one which was incredibly difficult to make – stop drinking or lose everything that mattered . In recovery , some would call this the gift of desperation , and for me making that choice did indeed turn out to be a gift .
I began my recovery . It was not easy , and involved lots of tears , guilt and shame . As my brain started to function without alcohol , further buoyed by support from people who understood addiction , my thoughts moved toward responsibility and acceptance . I started to feel hope , even optimism , when those I cared
16 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • MAY 2021 WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM