Case Study: Jodie’s Story

Jodie has been talking with Anni Bury, SSJ Recovery Worker, about alcohol dependency, pregnancy and rebuilding her family as part of our ’50 stories’ series.

“I drank heavily when my mum passed away. She had a bleed on her brain and she passed away in 2016 so I drank heavily. My boys father then took the boys”. Three years later Jodie was admitted to Q&A hospital’s intensive care unit due to her alcohol dependency. She was having fits and hallucinating and needed a blood transplant. Jodie told Anni “It was really serious”.

After the care Jodie received at the QA hospital and the alcohol nurses, Jodie said “I gave up [drinking] for a whole year and then I found I was pregnant at the end of 2019. I felt nervous, scared, happy then started drinking in early May. I know it was wrong, but you can’t change the past”. Sadly, due to the continued drinking, Jodie’s new-born little girl was taken into foster care three days after her birth.

Jodie was homeless at the time living in a B&B. She found the pregnancy very difficult and relied a lot on the father. “I was sneaking alcohol when he wasn’t there. I didn’t know about Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, I didn’t know how much I was hurting her [the baby] so that was a big ordeal to me when she was born – loads of guilt. They [social services] were looking at adoption”. Jodie did get in contact with her other children whilst she was pregnant. She found telling them she was pregnant very stressful and was worried about them thinking she didn’t love them. Commenting on Jodie’s experiences, Anni tells us that the journey to recovery from any kind of addiction is often cyclical in nature “We often witness a repetition of behaviour with clients, and family relationships can deteriorate as a result. As feelings of guilt and shame intensify, the client relies on their most effective solution to this, so they use again. In this case, for Jodie, it would be a return to alcohol. This can then generate a greater sense of guilt and shame; the pattern then continues painfully”.

After an initial unsuccessful support experience, things finally started to change for Jodie once she sought out help from the Recovery Hub in Portsmouth and met SSJ’s Recovery Worker, Monika Legg. Although Jodie was a self-confessed ‘blubbering mess’ Monika soon assessed that she could benefit from the support of the Community Day Rehabilitation Service also run by SSJ.

Anni tells us “at CDR we practice ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) and mindfulness with specific breathing exercises. These are incredibly useful for clients wishing to make changes in their life. They help with the transitions made in early recovery. Mindfulness, for instance, can help clients manage the intense sensations of anxiety, especially in those in the early stages of recovery.”

 Anni says she remembers Jodie walking through the door “looking absolutely terrified”. Jodie says “I was very scared, I don’t think I spoke much. It was a very scary experience. As the days went along it got easier, mainly with my anxiety. It was [about] pushing myself which I never knew I had to do”.

Anni explains that at CDR “we support individuals to create a rich, rewarding and fulfilling life for themselves. As a day service, this can encourage clients to take ownership of their recovery. Much of what is learnt during the day can be applied practically in their own time. It is also useful for many parents and for those whom a residential placement would not be suitable”

 Jodie can now reflect on how her upbringing has impacted her adult life she says ‘At CDR we looked at behaviours for at least 3 weeks on a daily basis. We look at the choices we make in life. It was good, I was pushing myself, to leave the house to get here every day. We did mindfulness and Acceptance Commitment Therapy’.

Jodie also talked about the help she received from SSJ’s partners at St Vincent’s College and Ginny the course lead for Self-esteem “she’s awesome. It’s one thing, it clicked. We done a bit of meditation. She said I want you to close your eyes and get rid of something, or someone that doesn’t serve a purpose, I went into this garden and you could either chuck it away or leave it to rest. I done my mum. She didn’t serve me any purpose any more. She was a big deal in my life. Mainly she was my mum but she was an alcoholic as well, and I constantly wanted to make her proud. Doing that has made a big difference.”

 Things are now looking a lot rosier for Jodie 12 months down the line. “I can walk down the alcohol aisle and not avoid or feel guilty that I’m walking down it or that someone might see me walking down the aisle. I’ve learnt a new me. I’m still gaining confidence, still getting there. More assertive. More open and honest. Don’t drink and I know me as I’m comfortable in my own body and I really don’t care on what other people think and if they don’t like it. I’m more proud of everything I’ve achieved to get my daughter back and see my boys with a smile on their faces”.

 Jodie says that she has achieved her main goals which were “finding me and getting my daughter back. I’m not scared of life, not scared of my children hating me, not wanting a drink to face the world. A lot has changed. I know me!”. Jodie believes that without SSJ’s help “I would have lost my daughter. Yeah. I would probably be heavily drinking or not on this world anymore. I have sclerosis of the liver. I have a family again. I have a little girl and she is going to be living with me. I can be a mum again. And do it the right way. I have a second a chance”

 Looking to the future Jodie says she will be “bigger, stronger and eventually own my own photography business”. Jodie’s advice to anyone thinking about accepting a place at the Community Day Rehabilitation services is “Don’t be scared – go ahead and do it. It’s the best thing. Even someone that doesn’t know you can be proud of you. I’ve learnt that one”.

On talking about what will be important to Jodie’s sustained recovery Anni says “being honest with herself, commit to abstinence, recognise the risk of relapse, maintain wellbeing and fitness, find a positive social network and substance-free environments and take part in meaningful activities”

 You can help us to help others like Jodie to fulfil their potential in your community by donating whatever you can. Your donations ensure that we can provide the environment and inspiration to help people move forward in their lives despite their past. We use funding for motivational activities that build confidence and items that help individuals move on like a new suit to attend an interview.

We wish Jodie the best of luck for the future and look forward to seeing her photographs!

The Society of St James are proud to deliver the Recovery Hub and Community Day

Rehabilitation Service on behalf of Portsmouth City Council.