Michele’s story

Michele is an experienced journalist who's had by lines in several national newspapers and leading music industry press. She's also the editor of SCT's very special forthcoming anniversary publication, the Accidental Hipster. The name was her idea, too. 

Michele wrote or edited everything between the stylish covers, including an abridged version of her own story. We love her ruthlessley honest and optimistic writing that veers from light hearted observation to bleak humour. Here's a sneak preview - you'll find the full version on page 7...

"I remember seeing a lot of horror films in the early 1970s about the aftermath of nuclear war. There was always one unshaven, stricken-looking survivor, stumbling out of the shelter to see devastation all around him, and I would be thinking: wow. if that ever happens, I want to be at ground zero, I want to fade away and radiate.

Coming out of rehab is a bit like that without the physical devastation of an atomic war. You feel like you are crawling out from the bunker, surveying the damage you did not only to yourself, but to those around you.

Coming out of rehab is a bit like that without the physical devastation of an atomic war. You feel like you are crawling out from the bunker, surveying the damage you did not only to yourself, but to those around you. 

In the scheme of things, I was lucky enough to have a 'straight' friend who picked me up and took me back to my mouldering, black-with-damp bedsit and said: "It will look different without the drugs."

Well, she was right. But the squalid bedsit that had been my home for the better part of a year was the least of it. Everything looked ugly and hyper-real. The drugs of my choice had a numbing, dulling effect, and with no chemical cosh, everything seemed so vivid and smelly and dangerous and loud and sad. And what they don't tell you in rehab is that when you come out, lots of people you were close to before rehab will be seriously angry with you - sometimes forever. Just because you say sorry and act sorry doesn't mean they will forgive you. 

And what they don't tell you in rehab is that when you come out, lots of people you were close to before rehab will be seriously angry with you - sometimes forever.

To face all that without a support system is just insance. Before I got back to London I was in an aftercare programme set up by the Hackney Drugs and Alcohol Team. They, in turn, led me to the New Hanbury Project - a place where I re-learned what it was I used to like, and what I used to be like - before I became a drug addict. It restored in me a sense of purpose and, more to the point, led me to the wonderful people who work there. It gave me a safe place to go to when I felt like using and helped me look less forensically at what I had left behind (marriage, children, work, stability).

...the New Hanbury Project - a place where I re-learned what it was I used to like, and what I used to be like - before I became a drug addict. It restored in me a sense of purpose and, more to the point, led me to the wonderful people who work there. It gave me a safe place to go to when I felt like using and helped me look less forensically at what I had left behind (marriage, children, work, stability). 

The staff made me look at the possibility of what I could get back, and how to accept what I could not, peacefully and with grace. 

People who go into rehab with no aftercare programme in place tend to use again. This is because they are not only going back to the situation that made the chronic user think: well why no. I'm clean now, but they also have to face all the havoc and destruction they caused when they were using. If there is no plan B, you go back to plan A. There is no safety net, no crawling to the shelter of parents of friends."

Read the full story in The Accidental Hipster 

Read more of Michele's stories her blog, Mama K's True Stories.

Choose an event to celebrate SCT's 50th anniversary, from the charity shop strut to our garden party to the East London music night.

Portrait by Ursula Underhill

Help us raise an extra £50,000 in our 50th birthday year

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