I grew up in a small country town in the heart of the Riverina (in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area). I grew up with both parents and four sisters.
When I was seven I was diagnosed with ADD. By the time I was nine it had been changed to ADHD where it stayed until I was 14, when I was finally correctly diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Asperger’s made it hard for me to socialise and communicate with others. I never felt part of, or like I fit in.
I started drinking at the age of 11 and things went downhill pretty quickly.
By the time I was 12 I’d been asked to leave school and to never come back after yet another violent binge in which I had the assistant principle two feet off the ground. So all-in-all alcohol didn’t lead me to making my best choices.
After getting asked to leave school I focused my attention on my drinking and sports (golf and bull riding), both were great outlets for my anger and it helped me to relax a little.
This went on for a good five years until I met my girlfriend and we found out she was pregnant.
It was early in her pregnancy that we knew something wasn’t quite right with our child and these suspicions were confirmed within days after our daughter was born.
She was born with an extremely rare, painful disease that had no known cure.
Most of the next couple of years were spent going from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital, state to state trying to keep our daughter alive. But sadly, on the 5 May 2009 she passed away.
That day I can remember clear as anything I walked into her room to check on her and she wasn’t breathing, I resuscitated her, successfully bringing her back to life for all of 40 minutes. But she died again on the way to the hospital.
I took this extremely hard and I phoned one of my friends at the time knowing she used Crystal every so often and I wanted some. I was 19.
I asked her to get me some and she told me NO (I should have listened to her).
I rang her the next day and asked her again. She replied OK if that is what I wanted. That was the first day I started using Crystal and I didn’t stop using until 2 June 2014, six years later.
What followed from the first shot was daily using. I almost missed my daughter’s funeral due to despair, anger and most importantly to me… I was waiting for the dealer.
In 2012 while in the midst of my addiction I was blessed with another beautiful little girl. But even after being given a second chance, a fresh start, I couldn’t stop using.
I would take her to my dealer’s place from the day she was let out of hospital through to the day I stopped using.
Throughout my addiction I was always able to put food on the table, a roof over our heads and be there for the people who mattered to me. So I didn’t think I was an addict because addicts couldn’t do that (or so I thought).
It wasn’t until I came into recovery that I realised I was an addict.
I wasn’t addicted to just Crystal; somewhere along the line I became addicted to Oxycodone and Fentanyl. And there was always my drinking.
I remember in May 2014 I walked into the doctor’s office after coming off a bull and suffering three fractured ribs.
I asked for something to take the pain away but was only given Panadol because, and I quote: “if we give you anything stronger you’ll go and sell it or use it in an undirected way!”
After this happened I started to realise I needed help so I made a phone call to a rehab in Sydney and was told to come up in two weeks and they’d have a spot for me. I stopped using the day after: 2 June 2014.
While at rehab someone mentioned CMA, which intrigued me enough to get me to go to my first meeting. It was on a Friday night and I was scared because I didn’t know anyone there. But as I walked into the meeting I felt calmness come over me.
After a few weeks of regularly attending this Friday night meeting, I started to do others, met more people and soon began feeling like I belonged somewhere.
In recovery I have faced hurdles. I didn’t see my daughter for 12 months, I have had family members die, I have had friends die from this disease and another friend was murdered just two days after I last saw her.
But in recovery I can face these hurdles.
The one consistent thing that has been there for me has been CMA – whenever I needed a friendly ear, a meeting, or people who just get what I’m going through.
I am now over 16 months clean and wouldn’t change anything that I have been through because it has helped me become the person I am today.
Today I belong.