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Priscilla sitting on the small white couch

Priscilla has plenty to celebrate in October 2020. After a year of commitment and persistence, she is now settling into her own home.

She joined St Bart’s five months ago after spending six months at Harry Hunter Rehabilitation Centre. Priscilla was accepted into our Women’s Service the same day she was interviewed. Celebrating her 50th birthday earlier this month, it’s been a long road to her recovery.

“I had my first drink at 13,” Priscilla said. “I got married pretty young and the drinking stopped, but once I left my marriage at 21, I started drinking more heavily, and then had a codeine addiction.”

Growing up as a child around 10 years of age, Priscilla was expected to mother younger family members – from babies up to her own age of 10. Her role saw her looking after their every need, from changing nappies right through to consoling injuries. Coupled with these unrealistic responsibilities, Priscilla also had to deal with her mother’s extreme mood swings.

“My mum suffers from mental health issues and was very controlling when I was young, to the point where I wasn’t allowed to have any friends,” Priscilla said. “Then my stepdad came on the scene and when it was good it was good, but when it was bad there was a lot of arguing and physical violence.”

Six years ago Priscilla lost her job. With nowhere to go, she stayed on the couch at her mother’s place for a couple of years. In 2019 she made a commitment to herself to be clean by the time she turned 50. That commitment came to life on October 22 as she celebrated 12 months of sobriety.

Over the last year, Priscilla says she’s learned that there is a lot of support out there.

“I really struggled with asking for support because I’ve been brought up to not ask for help, so being in rehab and St Bart’s Women’s Service has opened up my eyes to see that there is a lot of support available out there.

“St Bart’s helped me to become more assertive and I feel really honoured that I was able to go to the Women’s Service, because I would never have been able to leave rehab otherwise. I knew I would relapse without that support and my case manager Leigh has been so amazing.”

Taking things one day at a time, Priscilla is exploring a photography course and is also looking at undertaking a community course working with youth, where her ability to share her experiences – particularly with alcohol and drugs – will no doubt help others.

“If I can save one person’s life it’s worth it,” she says.

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