The power of change

Think Pieces

By Maxine Toon · March 26, 2024

My story started 19 years ago, I started my career at a children’s day nursery after finishing a level 3 diploma in children’s care and education. I was employed as a room leader and was quickly promoted to deputy manager and then eventually shared a dual role as the nursery manager.

For the first ten years I was happy and content, and loved to go out and party with my friends and binge drink on weekends which sometimes became very messy, but I could leave it as that at that point.

At the age of 31, I moved into my own home alone and this is when problems really started to escalate. I began to use cocaine and drink excessively when I went out at weekends, then it quickly escalated to me using most days in the week as well as weekends – which eventually led me to start getting into debt.

After 15 years I decided to leave the nursery as I met my partner, I moved from my hometown of over 30 years to start a new life and career. At this point, I was £18.000 in debt. Moving in with my partner ended my cocaine use but I didn’t refrain from alcohol, I was drinking every night and becoming more and more dependent on alcohol on a daily basis.

I managed to find a new job when I moved to live with my partner. I became a deputy manager in a residential children’s home, and after a year I became the registered manager. Unfortunately, this was during lockdown.

It was an extremely challenging time, the young people were struggling as they were already vulnerable and suffering emotionally. This led to them going missing from home, therefore interventions had to take place at times due to their extreme frustration, which led to me being physically attacked a few times.

I was working all hours and there were times when I hadn’t been home for over 72 hours, I had to work waking nights and was constantly on call. With the paperwork, constant calls with the police, social services, staffing issues and COVID-19, it all became too much for me.

I then started to drink heavily. It quickly got out of control and before I knew it, I was completely alcohol dependent.

It was awful, I would become physically sick when I started to withdraw, my body would literally shake, and I started to get really unwell which then began to affect my work.

I lost a lot of weight, I went from 9 ½ stone to 6 stone 10 in three months as I would not eat for days and days and did nothing but drink. This continued to the point I became so unwell I had zero energy, and the day came when I could hardly even get out of bed and had to crawl to even go to the toilet and could barely get down the stairs.

At this point, my partner took me to A&E and I was admitted to the hospital, where I went through a detox. I remained in the hospital for a week due to low blood pressure, malnutrition, and the results of my LFT blood test, which indicated damage and inflammation to my liver.

As this was also during lockdown, I was not allowed to have any visitors, I felt so alone, and this was an extremely scary time in my life.

I had to resign from my post as the registered manager as I could not continue to work due to my health and dependency. I got better for a short while and I found another job as a support leader with autistic children. I was only there for 4 short months before I had to resign as I began drinking again and my health rapidly declined. My partner did not know what else to do to help me, I had no job and felt completely lost, and all I wanted to do was sleep and mask my feelings. My partner eventually encouraged me to refer myself to the CGL team in our area where I went through another detox.

My detox was successful this time – I took time out to recover, find new interests, spend time with my family and work on my mental health. I spent 10 months out of work during this period.

Through CGL I was offered to sit the Intuitive Recovery course which I completed, followed by the Ambassador Programme. Then through Merit, I was recommended by a key worker for a job role as an auditor at Intuitive Thinking Skills. I was interviewed and I got the job the same day and started a week later.

So, this is where I am now. I have been working at ITS for a year and sober for 19 months.

I feel lucky getting the job at Intuitive Thinking Skills because I still have the support around me, the staff understand my experience due to their lived experience and I feel valued and not judged due to my previous life choices.

I am happier and healthier than I have been in a long time. My relationships are stronger, home life has become more stable and secure. I spend more time with my family and friends and have lots of plans for the future. I am now also debt-free.

With the right support and determination, you can change and you can get through this, you just need to believe.