Why I became a Therapist/Life Coach and Blogger
On the 31st of May last year I celebrated a very special Anniversary. It had been 25 years since I stood in one of the men’s toilets of a Swiss Psychiatric Hospital desperately gulping down as much vodka as I could swallow before the male nurse managed to get the door open and snatch away my bottle. That was my last drink! The day before this incident, my exhausted parents had taken me to see a world-famous Addiction Specialist. This lady, was tough as they come and a staunch advocate of “Letting people hit Rock bottom”. I still remember the complete lack of compassion in her eyes when she informed me there was nothing she could do for me. I was, she continued, in the grips of such a “cast iron” case of Denial that I was a hopeless case. With that, she walked me to the door saying: “The only advice I can give you is to voluntarily check yourself back into the psychiatric clinic you have just escaped from and let them run some tests in the hope they find Brain damage. “Now get out.”
A Genetic disease
I had always thought I got my strong maternal instincts and love of children from my Irish grandmother. Sadly that was not the only thing I inherited. Of her 9 surviving children, 5 were alcoholics. My wonderful kind charismatic larger than life father died of the disease when I was 12.
My mother remarried and we moved to England
After a few years in London where I “Flirted” with modeling and Anorexia. I moved to Switzerland to attend University. Met the love of my life, married very young and had three wonderful children. We were Blissfully happy and so in love. My first husband was a lawyer and a very sociable person. We entertained and were entertained a lot. We both drank socially, and we both drank a lot. BUT I could drink anyone under the table. And this is NEVER a good sign! Things changed dramatically after the birth of our first son. When he was three weeks old he was diagnosed with an extremely serious heart defect and I went into severe Postpartum Depression. In those days not much was known about this. The only thing which made me feel better was white wine. My Self-medicating served as a tripwire and I crossed that invisible line from heavy drinker to an alcoholic. Some people are lucky enough to accept their addiction and deal with it. I was NOT one of them. I hated it and refused to believe it. I loved champagne and wine and just could not imagine a life without alcohol. I Was angry and I was resentful, but most of all I was determined to prove, that one day I would be able to drink “normally” like everyone else.
The years that followed can best be described as a vicious battle to the death, David versus Goliath, Me versus Alcohol.
During those years I was a “guest” in so many addiction clinics, that I lost count.
When I had exhausted the Swiss and British possibilities, I was shipped off kicking and spitting to the States.
I used to joke that I would love to visit America for pleasure, rather than to check in to Rehab. I sat through so many sessions of Group Therapy that I could have been the Counsellor. I knew the music and boy could I sing the song. I conned and lied my way out of each and every one of these programs, and became such an expert at feigning recovery I deserved an Oscar. All I wanted was to be given the all clear and go home. What I genuinely did not see was that the laugh was on me.
In one of the very best treatment centres called HAZELDEN (now The Hazelden / Betty Ford Center), a highly skilled, kind, very wise counsellor called Bob saw right through me and said something which turned out to be prophetic:
“Lady, If you ever get sober, you would make one hell of a Counsellor”.
How I scoffed at him.“Hell will freeze over before that happens! That is the last thing I ever want to be.“
Against all expectations, I did eventually get sober, more importantly, I stayed sober.
Two years into my recovery, I heard The Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies, was running a Training Program.
I returned to Hazelden this time to train and graduate as an Addiction Counsellor.
It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for Brain Chemistry, Mindset and the study of mindfulness, and how the way we think has the power to change our brain. This was followed by a Masters in Psychological c Counselling and Life Coaching.
It was one of the happiest times of my life. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had found my calling.
My Director of Studies at Hazelden, Robert BRISSET used to say to his students: “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care” I believe this to be true with all my heart and it has informed everything I do as a Counselor and more recently as a blogger.
The values I I hold most dear are Compassion, KINDNESS empathy, caring and the ability to give HOPE.
PEOPLE NEED HOPE, HELP, CARING, AND KINDNESS
The reason I am sharing this part of my story is that terrible as those years were I am grateful for them because they made me who I am today.
They are also the reason I care so much about helping people find their way out of Addiction, anxiety, eating disorders, grief loneliness and LIMITING BELIEFS.
My story does not end there. If you would like to know what happened next read Part II ” From Counselling to creating an online business.”
And then if you have time read: