I was constantly paranoid and suicidal, constantly in trouble with police, and constantly in and out of hospital, being given all sorts of medication.
I wouldn’t have wished my life on anyone.
My time in Teen Challenge changed all that though. It was an amazing year but it was a very hard year, as I dealt with so many issues, including paranoia, depression and anxiety.
Key to recovering from it all was learning to how deal with things through using scripture instead of medication.
I graduated in 2013 and that was a great, great day. Friends and family, some of whom thought I was going to die before I was 30, came along to support me.
From there I went to Horizon Life Training for a year and half to train in horticulture, before setting up my own business.
Things then got even better over a year ago, when I married my amazing wife Jen, who I met in church.
I also have a brilliant relationship with my son, who I see as often as I want, which never happened before.
I am now looking forward to growing my business, spending good, quality time with my family and getting to know God more. I know he has great plans for us.
Life is good. If I hadn’t gone to Sunnybrae then I know that I would be dead or in jail but right now, every day is a blessing.
I had great support from different agencies and amazing friends that were living drug free but I thought everyone was against me. I was suffering from severe paranoia and anxiety due to all the substance abuse over so many years.
It came to a point that no matter how much drugs I used I couldn’t relieve the feelings of hopelessness and despair I felt within myself. I had reached such a low point, disgusted with myself, I had lost all hope of ever recovering. I was totally broken.
I had tried nearly all the rehabs in Scotland to get clean and could never get it. Some of these were great places but just never worked for me. I think because I was so broken when I reached Benaiah I was pretty much ready to do anything to try and get some peace and freedom in my life. Hearing about the love of God and how with His help my mind could be restored encouraged me immensely.
The staff there were a wonderful bunch of women who loved me back to life. They were patient with me, never judged and were always there to listen to me. At times, it was hard and I was challenged loads but I needed this. I had so much inside me that needed to change, I am grateful for the challenging times as it helped make me who I am today.
Undoubtedly, applying for a bed at Benaiah has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have never returned to drugs or alcohol and I now walk in freedom from addiction. So it’s safe to say it had a huge impact on my life!!
I was already at the Teen Challenge Leadership Academy when I graduated. I had made the decision to go there after completing the programme, as I knew I wanted to work with women coming from broken lives and felt this would be a great opportunity to be trained as an outreach worker whilst receiving amazing Bible teachings.
I loved my time there and grew in confidence and my relationship with God became stronger. Having been on drugs for so many years it also gave me more time to find out who I was and the damage I had done to my mind to be restored even more. It was during my time here that I heard about the work Julie Jones and Chloe Russell had begun at The Lighthouse for Women.
Since leaving Benaiah, I have had many highlights, some of them may not sound that spectacular but they are very special to me.
– Graduating from Benaiah and having my family there
– Graduating from the Teen Challenge Leadership Academy
– Being asked to stay on as paid staff after I finished my internship at The Lighthouse for Women
– Going on holiday with my youngest son Samuel then again, the following year with my son Luke
– Having all my three sons together last Christmas. It was made all the more special that they agreed to have their photo taken together. They all looked so happy!
– My eldest son telling me that him and his fiancé have set a date to be married in the Summer of 2019
– Going to my son Luke’s 18th birthday party
– I got Bella, my wee puppy
– Coming home to visit my family, spending time with my mum. My dad hasn’t been keeping great so being able to walk over the Broch beach with him and Bella was nice
– I have worked alongside many women whose lives were an absolute mess due to substance abuse and other issues, watching them become beautiful, inspiring women of God and testifying of God’s grace is always a highlight in my life
– Completing a Level 3 in Health and Social Care
– Continued family restoration
Having completed a successful internship at the Lighthouse for Women in Rotherham I am now a full-time staff member. The Lighthouse for Women is a place of change where we as staff help support the women make positive and productive changes in their lives. It’s an amazing opportunity to encourage these women, share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring hope in to such dark situations. I also enjoy being part of the Lighthouse for Women outreach team.
We started off just myself and Julie Jones but now we have some of the women that used to live in the Lighthouse helping us which I love.
The best part is that as I am really looking forward to my future. I still live on site at the Lighthouse so it has been a long time since I have had my own place to call home. I would love to return to Scotland and be closer to my family.
Having a home where they can visit anytime is the desire of my heart. I have spent a few years getting my life sorted, learning and studying so that I would be employable. My next step will be moving back home which is exciting although I don’t know for sure when it will be, Gods timing is perfect!!
I am also looking forward to learning to drive in the New Year. Well, I am not looking forward to the learning but I am looking forward to being able to drive.
Being able to spend more time with my boys. Especially looking forward to my son Malcolm’s wedding.
I don’t really look too far ahead but I believe that God has amazing things in store for me as I continue to trust Him with my life.
Having suffered from a horrible mix of depression, paranoia, drink and drug addiction, I am now completely free, living life to the full with my family down in Wales.
A life very different to the one that I lived for many years.
Let me rewind a bit…
When I was five-years-old my parents split up, which had a devastating impact on me. I felt rejected and started to really resent my Dad. I wanted to hurt him just like he had hurt me.
Throughout school I was quite withdrawn, until I was introduced to drugs. I found that they gave me confidence and so was very quickly taking all kinds of substances, like cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine.
At that time, when I was just 12, I was also sleeping around and started to sell my body for drugs.
I had a bit of a wake-up call when I was 14 though. One night I had taken far too many drugs and ended up overdosing. I passed out in a nightclub and was lying, slumped in a corner when, thankfully, my Step Mum found me and rushed me to hospital.
At that point, I realised that I needed to sort my life out. I got myself clean and took up athletics, which I did quite well at, competing in major championships.
However, I was still lost. I just didn’t understand where my life was going – or even where it was meant to be going.
I was working away, floating from job to job, but felt like I constantly needed something to give me a buzz, so began taking speed secretly.
Then, when I was 19, I fell pregnant and had a baby girl, Kianna, before having another little daughter, Ellie.
I suffered badly from post-natal depression though. The doctors actually thought I was bi-polar. I had intense paranoia and was very depressive – such a horrible mix of emotions.
I found that a glass of wine could make me feel good, so I started to drink – a lot.
When I was drunk one time, I fell out with my boyfriend and in the heat of the row, smashed a glass chopping board over my head, hoping that it would slit my throat.
I was in a truly desperate state and my kids were taken off me.
After another argument, I went absolutely crazy, drinking alcohol and swallowing anti-depressant pills. I made such a scene that the police were called in and it took seven officers to hold me down.
That night, I was taken to a Police Station and put in a cell for my own protection. Whilst there, one of the officers gave me the number for Teen Challenge.
I applied and soon found myself in Benaiah, which I thought was beautiful, but I remember arriving and wondering, ‘how on earth am I going to spend a year here?’
In the early days, I often wanted to leave but my Mum used tough love on me and said that if I went home, I’d have nowhere to stay, which I am so thankful for now.
Then, one morning in chapel someone was giving a message and my heart dramatically changed.
All of a sudden, I grasped the truths of the Bible and thought, “This is what it’s all about – I want more!”
I threw myself into the programme and God began to do a mighty work in me. I started to really come alive and felt an inner peace – something I’d been craving for, for so so long.
Over time, my life has been utterly transformed – best of all, I have my family back. I am once again close to my two lovely daughters, as well as my Mum, who has always been there, and my Dad, who has been fantastic with me.
Now, I just want to help others. There’s no doubt in my mind that I should be dead but I am here to tell the tale for a reason.
I have a passion for reaching out to hurting people and my aim is to open an outreach café, where addicts can drop in and receive help, love and support.
The future looks awesome and I am just looking forward to having my children back, being clean and happy and sharing Jesus with everyone.
My Mum was an alcoholic and I remember finding her overdosed on drink and pills when I was just eight.
I grew up extremely angry and rebellious, feeling completely unwanted and unloved.
At 13 I started smoking and drinking and it wasn’t long before I was taking some kind of substance each and every day.
I didn’t care about school. I was only there to cause trouble and I left with no qualifications.
At 16 I was thrown out of my home and began sleeping in hostels in Edinburgh, where I started to take a lot more drugs and was introduced to heroin.
My life then spiralled completely out of control. I would beg on the streets, eat out of bins, and steal and rob to fund my habit. At that point, I truly wished I was dead.
I moved to Arbroath at 21 thinking ‘new town means a new life’ but nothing changed. I was getting deeper and deeper into despair and ended up being sent to prison a number of times for crimes I’d committed.
Things got so bad that, at one stage, I actually wanted to go to jail to escape the ‘life’ that I had. I remember asking my lawyer before a court appearance to get me to prison so that I could get some time out from the world.
I was a completely broken man, with no family and no friends.
One day, I went to meet a guy – to sell him drugs – at a homeless drop-in centre. The people running the place kindly pulled me aside and started to speak to me about my life, showing me real love and compassion.
Out of curiosity, I kept going back and over a couple of months of them sharing the gospel with me, my heart began to soften.
The guys at the centre started to chat to me about Teen Challenge and I entered the programme in 2008, starting a long process of change, allowing God to restore my brokenness.
The journey involved me really opening up my heart as I dealt with hurts that I had been harbouring but, in the process, I was totally transformed.
Although I grew up a hardened kid with many barriers, God taught me to love others and, most importantly, myself.
Since surrendering my life to God, I have found everything I was looking for – love and acceptance – in him.
He has taken away any desires I had for any substances.
Today, I have a great relationship with my family. In fact, in an amazing twist, when I returned to the Arbroath drop-in centre I had attended as an addict to share how my life had changed, my Mum and Grandma were there and, on hearing my testimony, gave their lives to the Lord.
I now work as a Manager for Lighthouse Homes, which provides accommodation, care and support – within a safe, secure and structured environment – for homeless folks.
I am so thankful for the changes God has made in my life. I no longer live in torment – instead I have an indescribable peace, as I walk in true freedom.
When an opportunity came up for my Dad to secure a better-paid job, we all moved south to a place called Irvine, which was exciting but also scary at the same time.
When I was around 14 I started to smoke cigarettes, before – at the age of 16 – I moved onto smoking cannabis.
Things in my life began to spiral out of control and when I was 26, and my daughter Shannon was just 3-years-old, I ended up in prison after getting caught with a significant amount of cannabis, which I was selling to fund a cocaine and temazepam addiction.
It was whilst I was in jail, that I was first introduced to heroin.
One day, when I was going through a really tough time, I saw someone take the drug and decided to try it myself.
To be honest, I thought it was great because all my worries seemed to instantly disappear.
Then, when I got out of prison in October 1999 I quickly became a full-blown heroin addict. My life was a complete shambles. At one point I nearly lost a leg and had to get an operation to cut an infected lump out of my chest after I was kicked in a fight.
Thankfully though, while I was in hospital my sister Denise got talking to a Christian who pointed her in the direction of Teen Challenge Sunnybrae.
My Mum and Denise wasted no time in getting me to contact Sunnybrae and I was quickly interviewed by the centre manager, Gordon Cruden, who painted a grim picture of life there (which I later learned was to test me and see how much I wanted the programme).
I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired I knew I needed to do something – or I would be dead soon.
On the November 17, 2003, I entered the Teen Challenge programme a broken man, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Although I found it very difficult to change at first, as I couldn’t get my head around Christianity, I found myself being drawn towards Jesus.
I could see Him at work in the people around me and I wanted what they had so, in February 2004, I gave my life to the Lord.
Since then, I have been completely transformed from a lying, stealing, cheating heroin addict into a loving father, devoted husband and dedicated disciple of Christ.
I now have a full time job in Teen Challenge and have been blessed with wonderful relationships with my daughter Shannon, and my beautiful wife Lindsay, who I got married to in August 2008.