I wrote a story in May, about my life since I was a child and the ups and downs I have had.

One year on: Richard’s Story

I wrote a story in May, about my life since I was a child and the ups and downs I have had. As you can see I said “had”, a small word but it means a lot to me. I am now writing about the life I have NOW and what has changed in my life in one year and wow it is just amazing.
This time last year I was in a very, very black hole with absolutely no light at the end of it. It felt like absolute hell on earth if that’s what you can call it. All I wanted to do was die, I just wanted my life to end no matter what.

You might ask, how did it all change for me? Well, one day Eugene Toner (Brother Russell House Manager), a very clever man, asked me had I ever considered that maybe it’s a psychological issue I had and not an issue with alcohol. At the time I just laughed but he was actually right.
I ended up asking myself why not give it a go and try and stay away from drink and spend some time working on the psychological side of things and see if that worked for me. I started partaking in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions with Louise (another NOVAS staff member). I gave 100% to these sessions and I found it actually started to work for me. I also started focusing on doing some meditation to help me relax. Now don’t get me wrong it was very, very hard but I always knew in the back of my mind that I had the full support of staff in Brother Russell House, who I think of as my family.

I also started to get involved in other activities around the house such as the gazebo project which involved residents from Brother Russell House and PALLS coming together to build a gazebo for the house. I started gardening and going to the gym. I was open to doing anything that took my mind off the demon that is drink.

I started telling myself that there is a life for me and I stopped thinking about ending mine. This is something I never thought I would be writing.

My keyworker Keira Fitzpatrick mentioned going back to college. Again I laughed. I never went to an ordinary school, never mind college. Now after months of going through hell, constantly fighting a battle of suicidal thoughts going on inside my head and having no drink to help me cope it really felt like I was swimming against the tide and drowning.
So one day I said to myself “go for it”, it meaning college. It was then I decided to swim with the tide and by God everything in my life started to change. People were showing me respect and this respect was not out of fear as I felt it was before. This time it felt like genuine respect, man that is a great feeling.

Before I go any further, I just want to say that all this change never would have happened without the support of NOVAS and the staff in Brother Stephen Russell House, this is something I want to emphasise.

Now I am nearly a year into my sobriety and I have now taken what is hopefully the final twist in my life (Ha!). I participated in a sleep out for the homeless on the 10th October and met a wonderful girl and we hit it off straight away. We became the best of friends and now thank God, you can see how this is bringing out the child in me, we are boyfriend and girlfriend!
The moral of this story is strange. I have come from living on the streets, being in institutions, being in prison and having so many ups and downs to finding NOVAS’ Brother Stephen Russell House and I can honestly say my life is finally coming together. I have actually found peace of mind, happiness, have had the experience of doors opening for me and most of all I can say I have actually found love. Angie is her name by the way.
I still have demons going on inside my head but thankfully I have people who actually care about me, i.e. NOVAS and my family in Brother Stephen Russell House. It is onward, upward and positive thinking for me from here. This past year is the first time in my life I feel I have had closure and feel it is a new beginning for me. So for now I say bring on the next year (Yes, Yes, Yes!!).

I have always wondered what the word normal meant and now I know it is just being myself.