While working in London in childcare and studying a psychology course, I met a man through my local church. It was not a happy relationship because I was being sexually exploited by him. He isolated me from my friends and made me feel so low until finally, I plucked up the courage to pursue legal charges against him. I received counselling sessions and was supported by a Women’s Aid worker who was great but the pressure was having an adverse impact on my health, so I dropped the charges.
I was taking cocaine and drinking alcohol to cope with the stress.
I moved to stay with family in Scotland but this didn’t work out so my brother helped to arrange a flat for me in London. I still felt so emotionally low and that I didn’t deserve the flat, so I spent my time on the streets drinking. I was starving myself too as I was so angry at myself.
As a result, I was in and out of hospital a lot but once I could, I made an appointment with the Camden Alcohol Service who referred me to Westcliffe House, a private rehabilitation centre in Weston-super-Mare. I went through an intense therapeutic programme including art psychotherapy and worked on getting my confidence back. I had to be really honest with myself and focused on developing a healthy relationship with myself again.
After 26 weeks at Westcliffe House, I moved into the Camden Recovery Project. I engaged with the Camden Fuchsia Project to continue to work on my self-esteem and recovery because if I do the ground work now, hopefully I will reap the benefits later.
Day-to-day I try to keep myself busy. I went to college to sign up for a computer course and ended up signing up for an art course for a year. I also volunteer with a local garden centre, the Scots in London Centre and a befriending scheme through the Irish Centre. I am also starting my BA (Hons) Fine Arts course in October 2012.
I know there won’t be a big change overnight as I still have my moments but by taking small steps, hopefully things will get better for me.