Britt – Program Manager – FSRC -Lethbridge
If you would have asked folks from my childhood if they thought I would struggle with substance use, I imagine most would say no.
My childhood was tough – it was full of chaos and I was forced to grow up fast. I remember being filled with shame at a young age and I attempted to hide it with overachieving. I excelled in school and sports (some, haha) while being consistently on the honours list and even awarded Student of the Year, but the gig did not last long. I remember I started to step away or sabotage anything that was positive. I discovered drugs and alcohol quite young – it started with experimenting at the age of 10 to regular use by 12. I quickly fell into a world that I swore I never would and morphed into a person I didn’t know, nor was I proud of. My substance use allowed me to feel a false sense of confidence and took away feelings of anxiety, fear, sadness and shame; however, it was at the cost of my dignity, health and relationships with those I cherished and who cherished me.
I tried so hard to quit on my own – there were constant, unsuccessful attempts to limit, change and stop my use. Nothing worked and it was as if my soul vanished. I could get a couple days under me but I would end up back out there and more reckless than ever. All throughout, my health was deteriorating – I constantly baffled doctors because I was experiencing health concerns that a 20-year-old shouldn’t. I ended up finding recovery after a series of significant losses and finally realizing that I was not invincible. After much reluctance and encouragement from medical and mental health professionals, I found myself in a hospital conference room “observing” a 12-step meeting – it was not long before I realized that I myself was an addict. Not only could I relate to others, but this group accepted me without judgement, and I quickly realized I had to do more than observe. My recovery journey began October 31, 2009 – one person phrased it as that’s the day I came back from the dead.
If you would have asked folks from my early life if they thought I would be helping others who struggle with substance use, I imagine most would say no.
I took bad advice from a psychologist and decided to “use my obsession” and channel it towards something good – this would of have been great advice if I wasn’t already looking for a distraction from myself and my feelings. So, of course I rushed into school and wanted to become an Addictions Counsellor to redeem myself and save the world. I was accepted into the Addictions Counselling program at the University of Lethbridge in the first year of my recovery. Although I am so grateful for the program and proud of myself for completing, looking back I wish I would have slowed it down and focused on myself a bit more before jumping into the world of academia. My mental health was not good before school and definitely deteriorated while in school and I ultimately fell back into old, overachieving behaviours with little concept of self-care. Luckily, I had supportive people in my life who had the courage to give me this feedback and stick with me while I once again jumped back into intensive counselling. The last few years of my recovery have honestly been the best years of my life, and I finally feel comfortable as Britt.
All the terrible and most shameful things in my history have led me to this moment today and I could not be more honoured to be the Program Manager at Fresh Start Recovery Centre – Lethbridge. Who would have thought that my past could ever be considered an asset!?! I love getting to go to work and talking about REAL stuff while watching people transform their lives – I am forever grateful for the souls who trust me to be a part of their journey. It is so cool to be a part of a community that revolves around acceptance, healing and love. I guess you could say I am beyond grateful – I would not have the people or the opportunities in my life that I do, if it wasn’t for my recovery.