Seeing the world through new eyes in recovery – Vic’s story
Vic shares his mental health recovery journey: how he overcame alcohol addiction after 26 years, how he took control of his recovery with the help of his Hope Project support worker Ezra, and how he kept pushing forward even when things felt too hard to carry on.
Trigger warning: mentions of suicidal thoughts and addiction.
Vic: Every time spring’s coming, I do this mindful thing where I walk through the park and watch the trees. I kind of meditate on that as well, and I’m always in the park anyway, whether it’s raining, even if it’s raining. I don’t fight anything anymore, I’m sort of trying to give in to everything. I’ve thought, right, if it’s raining, it’s raining, you’re not going to have any harm from getting wet, you’re just going to get wet.
Where it all began
It all started when I had a few bad things happen in my life when I was quite young – 26 – my mother died and my partner left and took the children. I fell into really, really bad mental health problems. And so I decided to self-medicate with alcohol. And after 26 years I was on about 15 to 20 cans a day and anything else I could get my hands on.
I decided to visit a doctor’s, and I got warned and told that if I didn’t stop drinking for my own health, it could obviously result in death if I carried on.
I kind of took that on board, went home and tried to stop. I couldn’t. I ended up back down the doctor’s again and put on to [Bristol Drugs Project]. And I attended meetings for three months. And yeah, a young girl finally got in my head and stopped me drinking after three months.
Meeting Second Step and the Hope Project
Ezra: What brought you to the Hope project? What was going on for you before you met with me?
Vic: I ventured out, and obviously I was going through the system, the dreaded system, as I calls it. I decided that maybe it was time, after five years, maybe it was time for me to venture back into work, or maybe venture into doing something.
I finally got into this little job. It was only a little cleaning job I was doing. I was just really enjoying it, it was getting me out of bed in the morning, it was giving me purpose, all that side of it was absolutely fantastic. I was loving it. Enjoying it. You know, it was great.
But as a couple of months went by, I was finding my physical health was deteriorating. And also, I’ve got quite a few medical problems as in COPD, anxiety issues and a few mental health problems like that.
I kind of felt like my recovery was slipping out of my hands and I wasn’t in control of it.
And I was starting to get feelings of suicidal thoughts, of maybe life’s too much for me. Maybe it would be better if I wasn’t here. Maybe it would be easier if I wasn’t here. Maybe I wouldn’t have to go through all this if I wasn’t here.
So that brought me to this lovely organisation called Second Step, where I met the lovely Ezra, who helped me and held my hand all the way through getting myself back into recovery again.
Seeing the world through different eyes in recovery
Ezra: Do you feel like you’re looking through different eyes now that you’re sober?
Vic: Oh massively, massively, massively looking through different eyes. Everything’s awake. Everything’s alive. Everything’s clearer. It’s not blurry anymore. Everything was a blur. For 26 years it was a blur.
Even my smell, all my senses… I’m doing exercises and stuff now on it, on the bodily senses, about your smell, your sight, your sound. I mean, everything’s in contrast now, like I’m seeing things for what they really are in reality.
And that is the thing coming out of addiction is going back into reality. And reality is beautiful once you’re in it.
About the Hope Project
It’s very common for men and people who were socialised as male to feel isolated from their friends, family and colleagues when it comes to talking about their mental health. Stigma often makes men feel like they need to act ‘strong’ and not ‘burden’ anyone else, or that their problems aren’t as important as other things going on in the world.
We know that men (particularly middle-aged men) are more likely than any other demographic to take their own life, and 62% of people who die by suicide are not connected to mental health services.
The Hope Project is a suicide prevention project for men aged between 30 and 64 that aims to reduce the risk of suicide in this high-risk group, reach men who might not otherwise seek help, and challenge the stigma men face around mental health.
Delivered by Second Step, the Hope Project provides short-term emotional and practical support to men aged 30-64 in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire who are in psychological distress or have recently self-harmed.
By combining emotional support with practical support – such as helping men overcome addiction issues, handle employment, housing and benefits problems, or get help with debt – we ensure that men can not only talk about their mental health but also feel supported and able to resolve the problems negatively affecting their mental health. The Hope Project has received national recognition for this groundbreaking approach which ensures men don’t have to deal with their problems alone.