A dad who turned to alcohol in a desperate bid to block out the pain caused by his depression is finally looking to the future after reaching out for help.
Karl Ridley says he now wishes he sought support sooner after the loss of his job and breakdown of his marriage sent him on downward spiral.
The 34-year-old turned to alcohol in a bid to block out his pain, ending up drinking up to 30 cans a day.
“I had lost everything and then I lost my house. I was drinking and eventually I was put on really strong anti-depressants.
“I started self-harming and was suicidal.
“I was in a very dark and horrible place, my head was all over, I couldn’t see a way out. I tried detox but I just went straight back on the drink.”
Karl says he tried to cut down on his drinking, but it led to him suffering from seizures as his body had become dependent - to the point where every morning he would wake up and couldn’t function until he had his fix of alcohol.
Going back and forward to hospital, it was during one of his trip to hospital that he was given information on self-help groups and encouraged to contact support group First Contact.
He was then told about Ambassador House - a residential 12-step abstinence based rehabilitation facility based in South Tyneside.
Five-months on he says he is now finding his way to a more brighter future.
Karl added: “I was a nervous person so I didn’t feel I could ask for help. But I managed to find it in me to go and get help and I haven’t looked back.
“It has completely changed my life. I’m more confident and I’m starting to look forward to the future.”
But while Karl says on the face of it, his recovery sounds simple, it has been a difficult road for him to walk down.
He added: “People seem to think that you can just snap out of it. That you can stop drinking, that you can stop feeling the way you do.
“But you can’t. It’s not that easy.
“It’s not that easy either to ask for help and with me being a nervous person, it was even harder.
“It has been really difficult, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up - I just wish I’d asked for help sooner.
“I can’t change that now, I am where I am all I can do is keep looking forward and keep taking one step at a time.
“When I was in that dark place I couldn’t see a future, but now I can.”
Karl is slowly being taken off his anti-depressants and is looking forward to moving into his own flat and one day getting back into work.
“I just hope by telling my story, where I was and where I am now, it’ll give someone else hope that it can be done.”
Resources are available online for those looking for help to cut down including diaries,impact calculators. For more information visit www.wellbeinginfo.org
Our series of articles in the run-up to Christmas, supported by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, aims to encourage people to reach out to others and let those struggling know help and support is available.
Today, people are being asked to think about signing up for Dry January and raising some money for charity. Visit www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/dry-january-signup
Anyone who needs access to more structured treatment services call NECA (North East Council on Addictions) on 456 9999 or First Contact Clinical on 427 4685.