I grew up in regional QLD and came from a strong family with good values, and faith was a big part of my family's life. When I was 10, we moved house, so I had to move schools, and I found this difficult.
At about that time, I discovered I had diabetes and had to learn how to manage my medications and glucose levels. I felt like it was a lot of responsibility for me. I became depressed. I was only 12 when I first overdosed. I was also sexually abused by an older cousin but kept this a secret. At 15 I became sexually active. I guess I was trying to deal with the hurt all by myself.
By 19 I was taking a variety of drugs and was drinking. One night I was very high and panicky; I called an old boyfriend I thought I could trust, but he ended up raping me and then dropped me home the following day. I was overwhelmed and took a bunch of tranquillisers, and I called my mum just before I passed out.
Things progressively declined over the coming months, and my parents, who were still raising my younger siblings, gave me an ultimatum. It was move out or go to rehab. I felt that rehab wasn't for people like me but more for hardcore users, but I agreed to go. I had to detox first, so I packed my bags, and went to the New Life Centre in Toowoomba.
It was hard at first as I had to hand in my phone, I had no car and found the structure challenging to stick to. I struggled with learning self-control and discipline. In the past, when things got too hard, I would run away. I did leave the rehab at one point. I gathered up my gear and started walking down the highway. About an hour and a half later, Noelene (Team Leader) picked me up. I am so glad she did. After 15 months in the program, I graduated, but I was only out of the program for three months before I realised I still needed more support to live sober. I relapsed very quickly.
I am now back in the program, and the staff have developed a unique approach to support my recovery. I can work in the community, live in the rehab facility, and participate in various group sessions and work duties. It's going great. I am working on the deeper roots of what makes me vulnerable to addiction. It's not just about what you know. It's putting it into practice. I love caring for people and am looking for a career in the care industry. As I learn to look after myself and love myself, I know I will be able to care for others well. For anybody thinking about doing rehab at Teen Challenge, I would say, just do it. It is the best decision you could ever make.
*Name and image changed to protect privacy