What it is like …..

This post was shared with Cambridgeshire Recovery Service, it was written by one of our community members, in the hope that their experience may help others who are struggling to enter into mental health services while they are also experiencing substance misuse issues.

I first attempted support from the wellbeing service over a year ago in 2019 but I was declined support as I suffer with alcohol abuse issues.

Although I had been with Change Grow Live (alcohol support) for 2 years at the time, that did not seem to be important, in fact, it felt as though I was an alcoholic and that was it.

Being an alcoholic came first before being a person with a mental health issue who uses a substance to cope. I was really frustrated and let down. My GP could only suggest that I self-refer again which I had little interest in doing.

I shared my feelings with CGL, who arranged an appointment for me to meet with their own psychologist. This became a real lifeline for me at a difficult time, and without their support, I believe I would have continued to be refused support by the psychological wellbeing service.

After many months I finally got an assessment, and a little longer after that was offered CBT therapy, and I had my first appointment with my therapist. For me, it immediately felt clearer in my mind that alcohol abuse was not my issue, it was a symptom of past trauma, and feelings I had towards myself because of my experiences.

Some of the sessions were difficult, and during the 8 weeks or so I did have times where I had been drinking (never during or before a session). Things really began to unfold in my mind, and I was able to look at myself, and my life in a whole new light. Many of the things we discussed, and ‘tools’ have stayed with me and I use them to support me when I’m feeling anxious and when I feel I might pick up a drink.

I have just started my journey to go into rehabilitation, and I can say for certainty that without the support from my therapist I would not have had the confidence, self-belief, or the feeling that it is something I deserve to go ahead with rehab. Therapy changed my way of thinking, made me look deeper into why I behave how I do, what is causing me to feel like this and what can I do about it.

Often when speaking to people in groups who are in a similar position to me, mental health support comes up a lot. Not in a good way but because of how we are reaching out but being refused repeatedly, and the impact that has on people’s lives.

I hope sharing my experience goes in some way to show how beneficial it can be to have this kind of support for somebody with substance misuse issues and give people who have been rejected before encouragement to keep trying. It can feel hopeless if you’re struggling mentally but being refused support because of substance misuse.

I cannot thank the therapist enough for her support, and for the work, CGL did to get me into treatment. I feel that it should not be as difficult and stressful as it was, especially when experiencing very poor mental health and struggling with substance misuse because any knockback could cause you to spiral downwards very quickly.

– Mark

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