Friday, 16 October 2015

Get on an even keel

My guess is that most people who enjoy a glass of wine or beer have found themselves having a drink to relax, un-wind, forget their troubles, I've had conversations with friends who like me are aware that at times we are drinking a bit to regularly a glass or two over the recommended amounts... Just how easy is it for that to become a problem? What triggers heavy drinking? a death, a family break-up, bullying, depression, loss of a job, loss of your home? things that can happen to any of us. In the following account for our project 'The Homeless Library' one man shares just how easy life can turn around- for the worse and thankfully in this case plenty of hope for the future.

Soup Kitchen artist book/box, collaboration Lois Blackburn and The Wellspring for The Homeless Library

" this new manager, we got on well at first- but think she wanted to make a name for herself, wanted to come across a bit tougher. She started giving me warnings, then written warnings- all my life I had had a clean slate, then my final warning, I was thinking I wont get another job with all these warnings- she was getting me in trouble and the deputy manager was backing her up. She was constantly watching me- I had a panic attack and handed my notice in. I thought I’d take my chances, I didn’t want to claim benefits, I wanted a rest. Then the drinking kicked in.

Before it was just social drinking, I’d have a couple then it would turn into a drinking session. Then instead of going out with my mates I’d be on my own with a couple of cans thinking it would take the edge off. Then it escolated to stronger cans, and more of them- it never effected my work. Then when I lost my job I was drinking in the morning, I’d watch a bit of telly, got bored and had the urge to have a drink. I stopped opening my mail, if I had a drink it blocked out not opening the mail. It got to the stage when I was scared to look at the bank account, scared of going to the cash machine. Then I got the crazy idea that if I locked myself in my room, then nobody would come round.

I look back at it as a bad phase. In my mind, stops me from drinking when I think about how bad it was. I have the occasional lapse, but dry now. I cut down and stopped. 4 months ago I would have been sat watching telly drinking. I have managed to catch up with bills- this place is a Godsend, (The Wellspring, Stockport) when you're drinking you just want to spend all your money on the beer, you don’t eat. START helped, a doctor in Stepping Hill put me onto START.   My keyworker from Cirtek House put me to a drama group and volunteering at Woodbank Park, growing veg. ‘Re-G.R.O.W’ There you can sit down all afternoon if you want and talk to other people who have been in my situation and drink tea.

Tonight I will be breatholised- that’s at Re-Grow, and the Stay Sober group, you get breatholised there to, and if you fail you get asked to leave- and go back to be re-habilitated. Luckly I’ve not done that.

My key worker took all my bills, sorted them out for me. I cant describe the pressure it took off. I had a phobia about the bills, thought they’d come and take the furniture away. It took the block away when the bills were sorted, the beer was hiding.

'Wanting to get on an even keel', detail of Soup Kitchen artist book/box. Oct 2015

I get about £70 a week, when I’ve sorted out the bills theres no money to eat and I wanted to get on an even keel. When I first came here (the Wellspring) a ham sandwhich was heavon. Coming here is somewhere to socialise and sometimes they put a curry on and I love Indian food. Before coming here I had an old fashioned view of the place, but people are very respectful, friendly.

I came off the rails a bit, but now I have a different social life. I meet new people, I’m not in the rut I was at work. Next I want to get out volunteering…

The Homeless Library project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

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