[Trigger warning: reference to traumatic event]

My dad died from drinking, and I was the one who found him. It really affected me; I was a mess and that’s when I started drinking. I ended up battling alcohol addiction. Drinking was a way that I could forget about life. As I drank more, a couple of months could go by and I wouldn’t really be aware of anything. I lost myself.

By then, I didn’t really have a place to live. I would often get to the end of the day and crash on a mate’s sofa. I’m lucky that I had people I could turn to because I did sleep rough a couple of times and it wasn’t good. I remember waking up and feeling so cold. I was also suffering from depression and anxiety, which meant I kept drinking to try and block everything out. My alcohol problem just got worse.

Taking a step

One day I just decided to take a step towards helping myself; I picked up the phone and checked into a residential course run by a local rehab charity. I was with them for four months. It was tough but I learnt a lot about myself and developed new skills to manage my addiction.

I thought I was ready to leave, but when I moved out, I started to repeat my old ways. I realised I needed to go somewhere to help me along my journey, until I felt prepared to live independently again.

I don’t feel anxious anymore

I heard about Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire, gave them a call, and they offered me a room and support for as long as I need it. It’s good living in the community house here. I get on well with everyone. During the week, I quite enjoy working on the till in our charity shop, but the biggest thing for me is that the work gives my day structure. When you’ve got a routine it helps a lot. I go to work and then I head to the gym. I’ve got my own room where I can chill out in the evenings. Keeping busy helps me focus on other things and I’m less likely to want to drink or make bad choices. My mental health issues are so much better these days; I don’t feel anxious anymore.

I’m someone who gets distracted easily; being at Emmaus has given me space to think clearly and I’m much more able to focus and get things done. I’ve just started taking driving lessons – something I’ve been wanting to do all my life but I’ve never really had the opportunity or the motivation.

Things are looking up

I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I’ve got no intention of leaving until I’m definitely ready to get my life back on track. I know that the team at Emmaus will support me to get my own place and get a job lined up when it’s time. When I get my driving license, that’ll open up opportunities to maybe get a driving job. At the moment I’m also hopeful because my ex-girlfriend and I are talking about getting back together. I’m not the sort of person who easily feels proud of myself, but I know I’ve made some good choices and things are looking up.