Member Case Study
Before coming to Bridge, I knew I was slowly self-destructing with alcohol, but somehow I couldn't even see how I would muster up the desire to stop drinking. I was caught up in a cycle of depression and alcohol.
I was managing to get to work (most days) but was caught in the habit of buying lager or wine on the way home from work and then drinking and eating myself into oblivion. I then felt awful the next day and so the cycle continued.
Then there was the time I passed out and ended up in A&E and then had to explain away my ghastly cut, black eye and swollen face at work and the realisation that you're turning into the neighbourhood "drunk". Not nice!
As well as the hidden consequences of alcohol and spiralling debt and internal damage the obesity caused not only the calories in the alcohol but the overeating that would often accompany the drinking. The obesity contributing to arthritis, slowly becoming more disabled and in more pain.
The weekends led to maybe having a drink at lunchtime but then it would carry on until I fell asleep.
The only limiting factors seemed to be work and hiding my drinking from my daughters. As they reached adulthood and left home that limiting factor was fast disappearing. Obviously I needed help.
I think that one of the most special things about Bridge is that it is open on Sundays as this is a day where most support services are closed. Also for people who work during the week, it is difficult to regularly attend support during the week. There is a smart group on Tuesday evening but as I have no transport and have a bad knee I have had to stop going. I cannot bring myself to go to AA as I do not believe in labelling people. I am a person who has had a long and ongoing struggle with anxiety and OCD, eating problems, drinking problems and in the past, chain smoking wherever possible (I am now on e-cigs).
The one to one support with Caroline has helped me to move from someone who could not even muster the desire to stop drinking to someone who has reduced dramatically and is working towards abstinence. I can now go into an environment where others are drinking alcohol and choose soft drinks. I recently went to a work party and had a small glass of bubbly and less than a small bottle of Stella and enjoyed the food and company. In the past I just thought: free drink and ended up being sick at home, or not gone in order to avoid the temptation.
There have also been times where I have been terribly low and just going to eat a Sunday dinner at Bridge has helped. It also acts as a sort of crisis centre for me. It is hard to explain, but sometimes, something comes up that drives me into panic and despair and where I just can't see a solution. Caroline and other workers have supported me and helped me find solutions or ways to cope.
Caroline reminds me of how my sister rescued me when I got completely phobic about graduation. I felt like there was no way out and just wanted to walk in front of a bus and collapsed, crying on the floor in front of my Sister. My Sister just said that I did not have to go, and she would tell my parents. She did and I did not go. Caroline can "rescue" me before I get to that stage by supporting me in being able to say no to people if they are making demands that I really don't feel able to cope with. Caroline can just say you don't feel ready for this and it takes the pressure off.
I also need Bridge's support as I suppose I am "vulnerable" and as my daughter once said I have "a compulsion to please"; I find it difficult to say no and hate to risk hurting anyone's feelings. This can lead to me allowing people to take advantage of me in many different ways. Bridge is a safe source of support that just helps me to cope with life.
Things are looking up. I have days where I don't drink any alcohol. There are days where I have 2 drinks. There are still days where it goes wrong but then I wake up the next day, look at where things went wrong and feel determined to do better. I hope to continue to make progress and to continue to have Caroline and the others at Bridge supporting and encouraging me. It is almost like having another family who are there for you.
My confidence is improving and I have even volunteered to do extra hours at work if they become available. I have more energy and am learning to live differently now my daughters are both adults and away from home a lot of the time.
I think I was partly using alcohol to block out the sorrow that after many years of being a Mum, that role has diminished considerably and there is a sense of loss although I am obviously proud that they both seem to be doing well.
Bridge Substance Misuse Programme Ltd is a Social Enterprise, company registered number 06221493. Registered office 63c Gold Street, Northampton, NN1 1RA.