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Leigh's Story

“…Brynawel truly helped save my life…”

I entered into a 20 week programme at Brynawel House in December 2009, after battling with alcohol dependency for the previous ten years, the last five of which were a out of control. Everything good that was in my life at that time was holding on by a thread, and if I didn’t do something about my problem soon, it would have snapped beyond repair.

I had tried many times to get ‘better’ with doctors, support workers and counsellors. But all of these avenues were short term fixes. I knew in my heart a long time before I admitted it, that the only hope for my recovery, long term, was to go into a rehab.

I have never in my life been more terrified. Visions of nurses, pills, control and judgment filled my head. I was so scared that I would have to drag out all my past, relive my nightmares and I really, really didn’t want to go! But by then it had gone beyond my fears because I realised that it could be no worse than the hell I was already living in.

Thankfully Brynawel was far from this vision of horror. Ironically it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life, extremely challenging and at times pushing me to the limits of my emotions, but without doubt my saving grace. For the first time in my life, I had to look at myself. Not the person covered in the dark demons of her past but the person underneath the rubble that I had allowed life to build around me.

Stone by stone Brynawel helped me to take the wall down. And not by some medieval therapy as I had envisioned but by showing me different ways to see myself and to see and challenge the negative things that I held on to. It is so easy to hold on to self-pity but a lot harder to challenge and change it into self-strength. But this turned out to be the biggest thing I learned to do.

Unlike therapists I had seen before, the therapists at Brynawel didn’t treat me like some personal project. They really listened to me even at times when I spoke no words. They saw me as a real person who, although at times could be challenging, was by no means out of reach.

The best way I can describe Brynawel, it is like the first time you ride a bike without stabilizers. You wobble and sometimes fall, but with encouragement, you get back on and try again and again, and again, until one day you find you are doing it on you own. Brynawel is not magic, it didn’t stop me from having a dependency on alcohol and it didn’t take away my past. But the experience taught me that I am strong enough, I could have closure on my past and I could live a happy life without alcohol, which indeed I have gone on to do.

It has now been 2 years since I last had a drink and guess what, I survived. I didn’t explode and the world didn’t end. In fact it’s the opposite and I have never been this happy, not just with life but with myself. I have built up a relationship with my children beyond anything I could have imagined, I have a very loving and supportive partner who I share a healthy relationship with and I have amazing friends and a fantastic job. But more importantly, I have a life.

My past started the book; Brynawel helped put it in to chapters and then gave me the freedom to choose my own ending. I will never be able to thank them enough for all the help and support they have given me and still continue to give.

They truly did help save my life.

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