Depression, Domestic Violence, Loss of a Child and Substance Misuse
By Al Milledge
‘I’ve learned to decontaminate my mind’
Teresa has attended ASOH groups for about 5 months. We spent a while chatting about her day-to-day life and how it has changed over that time. Teresa is easy to get on with and was upbeat while we talked. We covered some difficult topics, where we both slowed down and felt the weight of it. I noticed that Teresa’s mood popped back up quickly, which can be one of the gifts of looking at life in this new way.
‘I lived in negative energy my whole life’ Teresa said after I asked her what had brought her to ASOH online groups. ‘I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel depressed. I thought the answer to that was not to be here anymore. I’d been drinking too numb that feeling for a long time. I’d spent a lot of my life in a narcissistic relationship and couldn't see who I was. Then my son died unexpectedly in an accident, just after he had moved into his new home to start to build a life for himself. It took a year to deal with all of details surrounding my son’s death and life became more and more unbearable. I soon went back to drinking heavily, starting at lunchtime and clearing two-thirds of a bottle of hard booze a day. I would wake up every morning with new bruises and injuries that had happened when I was drinking. I knew it wasn’t sustainable but I couldn’t see a way to be different. I tried to end my life 5 times and each time woke up in hospital feeling distraught.’
I was referred to the group, Caroline is absolutely dedicated, and she spoke to me straight away. The way she speaks about this stuff is so easy to understand and I started to get it immediately. I was still feeling hopeless about life. I got through the first two groups. Then, in the third week, I noticed a difference in my mood. I felt ok for a couple of days after and then I dipped and I couldn’t wait for the next group. The distance between attending group and me feeling down got longer each week for the eight weeks. I haven’t felt the way I used to for months! I saw that I had no compassion for myself after everything that had happened, and I was carrying it all with me. I’ve learned to decontaminate my mind’
Have the ASOH activities that you have taken part in improved your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing?
All of it. I’m a hundred times better than i was. I was in a bad place. I’m getting a lot better with doing things around the house, in small steps so that I don’t overwhelm myself. It’s going well. I don’t seem to be in my head so much, all of those difficult thoughts used to swarm my mind. I made a game of putting “recognise negative thoughts” notes up around the house. I am a catholic and I’ve started to read bible verses again after years of not reading anything to do with religion. I listen to healthier, more interesting stuff on TV and radio instead of back-to-back news.
Would you recommend ASOH to others?
Oh, I’d tell everybody to do it!
‘You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy’
What would you say to encourage others to access the service?
They should teach this stuff to kids. I thought there was one way of thinking, and I was stuck with it for life. I didn’t know that there were other ways of understanding my thoughts. I’ve seen it so clearly now.
What have been the other impacts of ASOH?
‘I’m still here’.
It was a joy speaking to Teresa and listening to her wisdom. I only have room for some of her story here, like a lot of us, she hasn’t had an easy time of it. The overwhelming feeling, I came away with was how quickly she noticed her resilience and seen that it was always there.