Hi! My name is Sarah – I am a woman living in recovery on Vancouver Island. I moved to the island almost 5 years ago to get treatment for my substance use disorder. To say my life was unmanageable is an understatement. I was a full blown alcoholic, drinking everyday, lying, stealing and doing whatever I could to get what I wanted. I lost everything including family, friends and, mostly importantly, myself. I was suicidal and did not care if I made it another day, and if I did, I had to drink. In 2016, my body gave up on me. I woke up unable to move, my mom made the call and I was taken to the hospital. There, I detoxed and was diagnosed with severe alcohol neuropathy – I was paralyzed, unable to walk or use any part of my body. I had lost my humanity, I had lost my soul. For months I had no hope, for I could not even begin to understand the impact of the things I was going through. I was relearning how to be human again, to walk, to eat, to bathe myself and to feel. The whole experience was surreal to be honest. I had a very slim chance of a full recovery. One day, I did a “thumbs up” to my Mom. It was the first thing I could do on my own, and from then on everything changed. I started to feel hopeful.
I was in hospital for about a year before I was able to come home, but when that happened, I realized I had no recovery support system and quickly fell back into old behaviours. I was desperate so I made the decision to go to an abstinence based group, where I met someone who changed my life forever. I was putting all of myself into this person, and as much as that felt great, it was a distraction from my own recovery. I relapsed, and it nearly killed me. They gave my family information about a treatment centre they had been to a while back, and we made the call shortly after. I flew out to the island for residential inpatient treatment. While I was in there, I had gotten devastating news that my friend who recommended this treatment centre had died of an overdose. I had two choices; the first was to leave treatment, be at the funeral and live a short life or to stay, get well and live the life I deserve to life. I chose to stay. I always tell this part of my story because that last year of addiction had the biggest impact on my life. I was saved in so many ways. I had learned more in that last year than in the previous 25 years of my life.
After treatment I went into sober living. It taught me the basics of living responsibly and of recovery. I went to meetings, I cooked for myself, I cleaned up after myself, I made lifelong friends and true connections. When I finished in the sober house, I lived with sober women in recovery for a a number of years before I lived alone. Having accountability and people to share my thoughts and feelings with was such an important thing for me to learn. It is the foundation of my recovery. I went to school at Vancouver Island University and took the Community Mental Health Workers program. I finished with honours and made the deans list. I have travelled around the Island and to Arizona to do trauma workshops. I was accepted into and completed Volunteer Counselling Training with Nanaimo Family Life Association. I have been a volunteer counsellor since, working with women who have experienced abuse, substance use disorder, behavioural issues and problems within the family. I now live with my partner and our two (adorable) emotional support cats. It has been a wonderful and fulfilling journey thus far.
I have always wanted to start my own business to help other women in recovery find themselves again, and recovery coaching made the most sense as my next step in my own journey of healing. I didn’t believe I had what it takes, but I did, and you do too! If you feel a connection to my story, I would be honoured to work with you to help you find your soul again!