I didn’t know I could paint.
Jay’s world fell apart when his partner walked out on him while he slept. They’d been together for five years and he’d saved £10k for their wedding. He was holding down a good job at the time and was what you’d call a ‘functioning addict’
I binged on drink and drugs. We both did, often for three or four days. We’d then have three or four days off.
But when he realised she’d gone and that “she’d blocked me on everything” he went on a binge which lasted for months. At his worst he was drinking three litres of vodka or gin a day, spending around £500 on cocaine and had a 200mg a day diazepam habit. He spent all his savings and more. Looking back, he realised he had wanted to die but “I didn’t have the guts to really do it”.
In the end Jay’s non-stop binging spree ended with a drugs conviction and a prison sentence. In prison he came off everything, including the medication his GP had given him to treat his depression. His system went into shock and he had a heart attack.
I thought I was going to die…but I didn’t. I then realised I needed to find something to do with my time. I was spending 23 hours a day in a tiny cell. It was hard.
Painting all day every day
When Jay was given some acrylic paints he was not impressed. “I was really stubborn, I knew straightaway that I would hate painting and that I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I gave it a go and I couldn’t believe how the time flew by. For the last three months inside I painted all day every day.”
When he was released Jay was homeless but he continued to paint where he could. He eventually found housing with Second Step. His support worker put him in touch with Golden Key‘s art event celebrating the successes and talents of people with complex needs.
Two of Jay’s paintings are being shown at the Bristol exhibition as part of Multi Disadvantage Awareness Day and he’s absolutely delighted.
Time stops when I paint and I lose myself in it. I’m determined to maintain my recovery and involve myself in services which help me.
You can see more of Jay’s work on his Instagram account @jpr_paintings.