The pressures of being a single mum caused me to drink while my little boy was away with his father. I was always a weekend drinker and I had no idea that I had become an alcoholic.

What I did know was that drinking to the point of blackout would help me deal with the effects of a trauma that I now know to be PTSD. I would mix anything with everything, and I would find out where the after-parties were, just so that I wouldn’t have to go home and deal with the flashbacks. I wanted to forget what was going in in my head.

My drinking turned into drug taking. During that time, I would have blackouts and I would go missing. I would lash out at people and I ended up feeling suicidal. Someone who knew what was going on alerted the crisis team about my mental state and I voluntarily spent two weeks in Woodlands. They were the ones who explained to me that I was in fact an alcoholic and they took me to ESRA.

I didn’t feel a connection with other people before I came to ESRA. I went to the Friday morning yoga class and that really helped settle my mind. The Women’s Group has been great for re-establishing healthy friendships with other women and the Art Group helped me to get all my thoughts out without being overwhelmed by them. I also attended the Your Choice recovery group and learnt how to stay on the right track, especially when things became difficult.

My lightbulb moment came when I took my young son into a pub during my drinking days. My friends had encouraged me to do this. I didn’t want that life for my child and I knew that I had to stop spending time with those people. I soon realised that they had not been friends at all, but they had been using me for money and simply saw me as someone they could drink with.

I have been coming to ESRA for 14 months and in that time. I have had a lot of training opportunities, all of which have helped boost my confidence.

What I want people to know is that not all alcoholics drink every day, or get drunk in the mornings, I have learnt that it isn’t how much you drink that matters but rather what happens when you do.

I have never felt as clear-headed as I do now. I have learned in recovery is that it is ok to be who you are.