Last year, Kelly was a resident at our Residential Treatment Centre, Birchwood. Now she’s a volunteer responsible for running groups and assisting with administrative duties.
Here is Kelly’s story:
“Last year in June, I came to Birchwood for a detox. I came here for 3 weeks and 2 days. I was at a point where I knew I had to change, something had to give. I had just lost my partner in the January and for four years before he passed, I thought everything was ok. He went to work, he supported my habit. When my partner passed away, I went to Wirral Ways to Recovery and said ‘Please get me in somewhere’. I didn’t think I’d be able to get the funding, because I’ve been in rehabs before, but I did, luckily enough.
I’ve been trying since 2002 to get clean and remain clean. I’ve had a lot of relapses, but I always had something in me that got me back up to try again. I used to look at my relapses as failures, like I was a ‘serial relapser’, but at Birchwood, I changed that term to see myself as a ‘serial trier’. I thought that if I kept the negative thought in my mind, I would always relapse, so I look at it and say I’m a serial trier instead.
I like to change my language and change the way that I speak. I really believe that what you speak is what you become and what you think is what you become. I came [to Birchwood] with a different mind set. I knew that when they told me I was coming to Birchwood I was going to feel ill, I knew I was going to feel uncomfortable, emotional, but I was willing to do that to get to where I am today. I wouldn’t be sitting here [if it wasn’t for Birchwood] if you met me a few years ago, I wouldn’t have known what to say, I wouldn’t have know what direction I was going in.
So, I came to Birchwood, I did my detox. It was very emotional, very tiring. The nurses here helped me so much. [They] were amazing with me. They are so helpful; if you’re doing the right thing, they’ll do the right thing for you, and for me, that’s what it’s about – respect. [Whilst I was here] I participated in all of the groups, I just knew what I was going to do. I had volunteering in mind, I didn’t think it would be here, but while I was here the staff said to me ‘would you like to come back because we’re going to be taking volunteers on?’
After I left, I kept in touch with Kaleidoscope, with Birchwood. I kept coming to see them, having a cup of tea with them. I came here in October to start volunteering. I was a bit rusty, I was a bit stand-offish. The little office downstairs was packed and I felt like I was in the way, ‘I’m this, I’m that, I’m not good enough.’ But I still pushed myself and came in to build my confidence. I knew I had to keep facing my fears. I do fear things a lot. At times it has defined me and defined what I do. But now I look at that fear as a good fear. It drives me on. Now I run the groups, I book people in. I get on with the staff, I feel like I’m making a difference. It feeds my spirit. It gives me a purpose. I didn’t have a purpose. I thought I was going to die an addict, addicted to methadone, or whatever drug, but that’s not how it’s going to be.
It’s not all about me. I used to think it was all about me. It is about me in a sense, but I want to give back. I want to live.
My favourite thing about volunteering at Birchwood is running the groups. I can get doubtful of myself, but I go and speak to the other staff and they help me look at it differently and give the reassurance that I’m doing ok, because I can jump to the negative. I have to get negative thoughts out, because I can’t let anything consume me but good.
I take each day as it comes. I don’t expect too much. I don’t expect too much of me, of others. I don’t want to be perfect, I just want to be happy and content with me and doing the volunteer work feeds my spirit. I’ve never worked in my life, I’m 46, so [volunteering] has really helped me.
I want to work. When I was still using, I used to visualise myself working; getting up, getting dressed, going to work in a little car, coming home, having tea, kicking my shoes off, relaxing, getting ready for work the next day.
I want friends, and holidays, but I don’t want it now. It can [all come at] my pace.
The little car will come soon, though!
For more information on Birchwood Residential Treatment Centre, click here: https://www.birchwoodtreatment.com/