Greg's story

I had been a recreational drug user for many years and it tipped over from being a weekend thing to being an everyday thing. The business I used to work for restructured itself so my job changed and my best mate was about to get married and move out. I felt lonely, and I used to deal with issues by using a lot of drugs. I ended up in hospital a number of times before I realised I had a problem.

I would be up for two or three days solid without getting any sleep. I’d get really angry, often I’d wake up and scream at things, I’d have a lot of nightmares. I had a couple of incidents of unintentionally overdosing on drugs and ending up in A&E. I was in hospital for a couple of weeks, was then released and went back to work, but the world was not the same as it was before. I was good for a week but everything began to crumble again. I drank bleach so wound up in hospital again - at that point I realised that something has got to give.

Things got worse for me. My job offered to buy me out of my contract, although I wasn’t fired, it wasn’t too dissimilar to that. I stopped working in November and had nothing to do for a while. At that point I was always on drugs, I would wake up and spend the whole day off my head, and the whole night and the next day and the cycle continued. It was awful.

Following this I was referred to The Network in Barnet which provides gives people with mental health problems the opportunity to regain skills and confidence to maintain a healthy way of living.

In the first session we outlined goals – I wanted to get myself back into work and feel more socially connected to people. At the Network, nobody does it for you, a lot of it was me doing the work and Doyin, my key worker, signposting options and offering me advice and support. This was really empowering, it gave me control.

The more sober I got the more guilt I felt about the way I treated people and the things I had done. Over Christmas I volunteered for Crisis, the homeless charity. And in the New Year I started to get back into the flow of applying for jobs. I had a purpose when I was volunteering. It was nice after not having done anything for a period it gave me a reason to get up and felt needed.

Following that it was an endless stream of application forms and CV writing. I got through to final stages of a few businesses and got a job a couple of weeks ago.

The Network also host group sessions where you work with your peers to support each other towards recovery. There was a group session on Transactional Analysis – understanding ego states. How you play certain roles in a particular situation which helps you understand why you behave in the way you do. It’s a useful framework for when I think about the way I behave. It was nice hearing other people talk about things and how they interact with pieces of information and the tools they’ve explained on the course.

I worked closely with my keyworker, Doyin, who provided support to ensure I was able to meet my personal goals. It was helpful to have someone to check-in to. I would hate speaking to my parents because I would have got 500 questions. I think Doyin was good actually because she’s removed from the situation it meant she could give me a different opinion, a different way of thinking about it.

It became less about someone imposing a goal but let me be in the driving seat. I would talk about particular scenarios like how I would interact with my doctor and she’d help me make the decision that was right and manage the situation in the correct way.

I've seen relationships improve too. I am much more socially engaged. Before I would always have the shakes and would hardly ever sleep, and be confused and not particularly eloquent. As a consequence nobody would want to see me and I wouldn’t want to see anyone else. I don’t avoid my parents anymore. It was a combination of things falling into place and having Doyin’s help to get me back on track.

I'm looking forward to my future. Enablement means having a sustainable future. Now I am excited about life, I have a new job I want to do and everything is on the up.

*Greg is not his real name.