“Strength to put myself back together” – John’s story
After experiencing drug addiction, psychosis and a section under the Mental Health Act, John recounts his path out of the abyss. He is now at peace with himself, using spirituality to better understand his emotions.
Poor mental health can take us all the way down into the abyss. This is my story of how I came back. I’m 53 now, and so in love with life and myself.
I had a troubled childhood. Many do and we develop coping strategies. In my case, it was smoking weed from about fifteen. My family didn’t know, or I suspect they didn’t. When we suffer abuse, we don’t fall out of love with our caregivers, we fall out of love with ourselves. Substances replace that self-love.
After education I worked in the sciences, all the way up to research support. I enjoyed the work so much I kicked the weed habit. Then my life changed in an instant in Spring 2009. My mum called me over the phone to tell me she was terminally ill. I couldn’t give her a hug.
When we suffer abuse, we don’t fall out of love with our caregivers, we fall out of love with ourselves.
Needing a crutch, I went up to the head shop to see if they knew anyone. They didn’t, but they had this shiny new thing called spice. That provided a crutch but manifested into a full blown addiction over the following three years, until I had a spiritual emergence. I ended up in services with a diagnosis of drug induced psychosis, was sectioned twice in two years and prescribed anti-psychotics.
That medication severed my spiritual connection, removed my emotions and turned me into a zombie. Eventually, I gave up work in 2015 to return to Liverpool. Anti-psychotics caused so much weight gain that I needed surgery for an abdominal hernia. My BMI is much healthier now. After that, I made the decision to stop, slowly and carefully. It was difficult to collect enough thoughts through the brain fog to realise I didn’t need to be medicated anymore.
As I was weaning off those meds for over two years, my dad became ill and I ended up his primary carer until he died in 2019. The only stability I knew, the family home, was gone. I ended up staying with friends, then bought a campervan that was written off in a horrible accident two days before Christmas in 2021. I was left homeless on a layby in Wales with my little dog Sparky.
Recovery is hard, life is hard and so many people drown in the inky blackness.
A rough path for sure, but I’m a survivor and I came back. The thing I’m most grateful for is ironically my anti-psychotics because weaning off them allowed me to understand my emotions again, without the context of ongoing trauma. Then I heard about and trained in reiki, which started the process of falling back in love with myself.
After reiki I tried breathwork, shamanic practice and hypnotherapy. I found a tool called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which combines cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) with Eastern understanding of meridians and the energy body. EFT is a language tool; I’d describe it as emotional surgery, cutting out trauma and leaving healthy emotions intact.
With these tools, I put myself back together, slowly and carefully, and began to learn the language of my heart for the first time in my life. Fast forward to now, I’ve cleared all that trauma. 11 years later, I’m back on my feet within a mile of where I grew up, volunteering for Citizen’s Advice to get back on my feet and back into work. I’ve trained further in counselling skills and my passion now is social prescribing, perhaps spiritual prescribing.
I am passionate that recovery isn’t about fixing people, but the things that make them unwell.
Although I have a scientific, ‘problem-solving’ skill set, I am passionate that recovery isn’t about fixing people, but the things that make them unwell. So, my role now is as a skilled helper. I love myself totally and unequivocally. My passion now is helping others recover from these spiritual ascensions, showing that it’s possible to transition from antipsychotics to healthy emotions.
Recovery is hard, life is hard and so many people drown in the inky blackness. Nobody rescued me except myself. I had very little help from my wider family and siblings. Fortunately, I had the innate strength to put myself back together. Not all do, and for those that don’t, we are here collectively: services, friends we don’t know yet, strangers in lieu of the family that couldn’t take the risk of helping, perhaps because they are so broken themselves.
In spiritual circles, we say that healing goes backwards and forwards seven generation or more. I don’t have kids because of what I went through as a child, but I am so very grateful for the opportunity to heal those who stand behind me, my ancestry and my timeline.
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