I was a bit nervous at first about doing exercise online, because I don't like the camera, I don't like seeing myself on the video. But I joined anyway because I love the gym sessions. It's a friendly bunch. When we did it in person, it was the same group every time and I think that's what made me enjoy going. When I turned up at the Aspire sessions in October, it was the same faces and it was just like, yes, I like this. There was a few faces I've known growing up, which was a surprise, since I was joining it through Turning Point, and I just thought it was there for recovery people.
I used to always want to join the gym. But it's nerve wracking to walk into a gym by yourself and I never had the confidence to do anything like that. There are people out there that want to keep fit and healthy. But it's just getting them through that door. And Sue’s, who’s running it, she’s amazing. Like, she makes you feel comfortable, and she shows you what to do. I personally think that's even better because I wouldn't know what to do when I walked into a gym. And this, obviously, where it is free, it's really good, because some people can't afford gyms. They're so expensive. Even my daughter used to come along with me, before the lockdown. She's 16. She goes through a tough time herself with her mental health, and 2020 wiped out her GCSEs, so she's been struggling. She used to ask about going to the gym, can I get her a membership? And I never done it. So when I see Aspire starting, I said to her, ‘Look, why don't you come along with me?’ She come along with me and she saw someone that she previously went to school with. So I’m stood there with the girl's mum having a laugh. I used to go school with her. And my daughter’s stood there with this other girl having a laugh, and we’re in the corner, us four, doing the workout. My daughter loved it.
You can see the difference in somebody when they're locked up indoors, or they're starting to go out. Like her mental health started clearing just by being active. I really do believe it's what's helped me lately. I'm enjoying the exercise. I would never have dreamt to do five days a week. And now I'm eager, like come on gyms, open, because I would actually go and not feel uncomfortable. Even on Zoom, at the end when you sit down, my hair’s all over the place, my face is glowing like a lobster, and it's like, do you know what, I don't care what I look like, sound like. I'm working out. I think it's Sue that made me want to keep going after it went online. She makes everyone feels so comfortable. When I first turned up it was like I was coming into a little family already made. I'm quite a shy person and nervous around new people. But Aspire workers, they all make you feel comfortable. They’ve got open arms, they’re welcoming and they make you feel like you can approach them if you need anything. If I get on with someone, they can drive me into good things.
It started through me going to Turning Point, in recovery. A few of the ladies that would come to women's group would talk about the gym session with Aspire. When I first started Turning Point, I kind of had to go to try and prove to the social services I could take care of my children. I was one of them that was being forced through the door. After a while, when you actually start recovering and understanding what you're doing is wrong, that's when you start wanting to go. Eventually, I was going through that door by my own choice. I wanted to go in there. I wanted to get clean. I wanted to work with these people. So if there was anything that I could see was going on, if it took my fancy, then I'd be like, right, okay, how do I get on to this then?
Now I'm actually volunteering at Turning Point as a peer mentor. I had to take this course, and then at the end of it, you can start helping around the building, start learning the other side. Because you've been through it, it helps you guide others. It's quite nice to think where I was back in 2017, to now being sat in the building and knowing that one day, maybe if someone was to approach me, I could speak to them and say, ‘Look, there is a way through this.’ And it's nice to see that they put that trust in users. I think it gives you the boost because it feels like they’re believing in you. When it's just you being helped, sometimes you're ignorant to it. But when someone tells you that what you've gone through could help guide others through it, I do believe that it makes a big difference. When you're believed in to help someone, it helps you help yourself just as much.
I'm doing an online course with Ruskin College for mental health problems. Because my drive now is, I don't know what made my addiction happen. I want to do all these courses, like counselling courses, mental health courses, just to understand mental health, well-being, addiction, even more, so that I can help someone in the future. That’s my passion, I think. Being around amazing people throughout my recovery, it’s just made me want to do the same as them. When I decided to attend Turning Point, I actually realised that to get recovery, you have to be selfish, though it’s not a pretty word. You have to want it for yourself. Before, I was going through the door in a fight to get my children, but I was never being honest, because I was staying with my abusive partner, and still doing the drugs. So it was like, right, my kids go into care, I end up dead, or I pull my finger out and sort it out. There's more to me than this. And then I started thinking about things that I've always wanted to do, and then just realising recovery is on you. I can't keep doing it for everyone else, I have to do it for me. And doing it for me, I was going to get my children back and keep my life.
I know it might sound silly, but it was getting through a relapse that gave me the strength and focus to make the changes in my life. It's made me stronger as a person, able to stand up for myself, look after myself, believe in myself and push myself. Through this relapse, I've then gone on to get my driving licence, entered back into education through college. I'm back in Turning Point, helping as a peer mentor and I've done all these things by myself this time. Don't get me wrong, I've got the support of family, I've got the support of Turning Point and the gym sessions and everything like that. But I'm pushing myself, I'm the one making myself get up. And I'm actually happier in myself, that I've done it. I needed to hit rock bottom to actually see the light, kind of thing. And I'm quite proud of myself for how far I've come. and support other people. I never expected that they would all support me so much.