I HAVE GOTTEN TO A STAGE WHERE I FEEL I HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER MY LIFE AGAIN
When I reached out to seek help for my addictions, I thought at the time that I had reached a point of no return. I'm not someone that opens up and speaks freely about how I feel or how I act especially when I'm ashamed of things.
It took a few sessions for me to trust my keyworker and feel comfortable but as soon as I did the changes started to happen. I felt free to discuss my actions without shame or judgement and by doing this I was helped with how I could make changes to improve and better my life.
My fear before my sessions is that I had accepted in my head that I would one day die of an over dose or a heart attack because I had gotten so caught up in it all. I can proudly say that I stopped feeling that way about 6 weeks ago and have gotten to a stage where I feel I have complete control over my life again. I am happy that there will be the aftercare sessions as I think they are necessary.
This has been a 10 year battle for me and I've only ever manged to stay sober passed a month once, which lasted for 7 months. Today I am 6 months sober, something I didn't think was possible.
I'd like to thank you and your team and especially my keyworker for the work you do.
ONE DAY I DECIDED IT WAS ENOUGH.
I found the profile of Control Chemsex on Grindr. I've seen it there so many times before that it felt familiar. I contacted them, committed to stop the toxic vicious cycle I was in and that was ruining my health, wellbeing, relationships... I was received with open arms, and it felt amazing to talk openly about everything. I didn't feel judged and I felt that there was a genuine understanding of my situation. But what I found really game-changing during the sessions I had, was the conversations and tools I was provided with, that allowed me to understand why I was engaging in those vicious cycles. This understanding made me even more committed, but also able to now be in control - to identify toxic self-damaging habits and change them with habits that are more inline to how I want to see myself in the future.
MY EXPERIENCE RECEIVING ONE-TO-ONE CHEMSEX SUPPORT
I had seen your profiles on Grindr lots of times, but I was scared of asking for help. I was always promising myself: 'if this doesn't get better by the end of the month, I will contact these people', and I was delaying any approach until it was too much. It was hard for me to admit that things weren't the way I wanted them to be; I was always denying any bad impact when people were telling me that my life wasn't going in the right direction, and I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to talk openly about my issues with chems. It was helpful the fact that, after contacting you for the first time and to ask for an initial assessment on Zoom, you allowed me to cover my face, and that made me feel safe and that I could keep completely anonymous.
The first concept in that assessment was around losing control, and understanding what losing control actually meant for me and for my life. When the person who carried out this first meeting shared a Ted Talks video with me, I not only found it profound, but it was revolutionary. For the first time in my life, I found someone who didn't want me to stop, or identify that Chemsex was a bad thing or what I was doing was harming me. Although these things are true as soon as they were not the focus, I realised I could map my journey and create a path to recovery on my own terms. I was nervous and unsure, but I knew I wanted to make a change. In the beginning, I didn't want to stop my Chemsex behaviours but manage them instead. What I found over our sessions was not about reinforcing my own self stigma and low self-esteem but that I felt non deserving of love, joy and pride. Which ironically are very important ideas that shape the person I am and the values I lead.
My keyworker and I met over 10 sessions, we discussed addiction, cravings, triggers, how to compartmentalise my feelings and emotions. We also focused on the present, to manage each day and week as I go. I learned how not to punish myself if I did fall off the wagon or indulged, which I did do once between our 10-week session, but eventually my focus aligned with the ability to manage the situation. Gradually I started realising that although my issues were related to abuse, I didn't need Chemsex to inflict any more pain on myself. I learned to understand what a craving was, a trigger and how to manage it in the best and beneficial way for me. It hasn't been an easy journey, but I haven't engaged in Chemsex for over two months now and although I feel proud, I equally feel relieved that for the first time someone made me realise that the control was in my hand and I didn't need Chemsex to validate my experiences or existence.
We also looked at creating a pride diary and noting those little joys in my life that made the day slightly better. We are in difficult times right now and I appreciate that Covid has brought many anxieties and concerns, but I know I was a rock bottom and hiding it very well before I came to Controlling Chemsex. I don't want to sound sentimental, but I have nothing but praise and my deepest gratitude for the support I received. I am thrilled that Controlling Chemsex is going from strength to strength and growing, our community of (some) lost gay, bi, MSM men really need this model that focuses on them and their needs. One that doesn't create a barrier if an individual is struggling or cannot commit to stopping. I think my biggest fear was letting go of Chems, I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but I do know something has changed and I view Chems and Sex differently than I did before. My road to recovery is ongoing, I still have my struggles with intimacy and sex, but I am working on that. I just know that with their help I am happier, healthier, and content with my experiences and I can only hope this continues in the future.
IT WASN’T JUST ABOUT ME TAKING DRUGS AND CRAVINGS
Keyworking was great, guys. The thing is it wasn't just about me taking drugs and cravings, it was also about my feelings and grief, my thoughts and future plans. You did pay attention to every detail and every word I said. One of the main things I think its "being heard". It’s not easy to find someone and talk about what you going through and not being judged. I did trust you from the day one and that's the reason I think I have been honest whatever I did and was open to share about thoughts even though they weren't good sometimes. There was no barrier or curtain between Keyworker and me.
Another thing I noticed you mentioned that you will support and help even if I’m going back and going to have chem sex, just to plan it and make sure I will be safe and will have a good time. Thank you so much for these sessions, they saved my life and what I have learned from them will keep saving it.
I WAS ABLE TO RECONNECT WITH MYSELF THROUGH POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
I used controlling chemsex when I was at the lowest point of my life. I had exhausted all ways of trying to escape from loneliness with the use of drug fuelled sex.
With the guidance from one-to-one keyworking sessions I was able to reconnect with myself through positive reinforcement by not just focusing on your drug addiction but focusing on building a positive, caring, exciting and more loving environment around yourself starting with you.
I’VE BEEN ABLE TO GAIN SUBSTAINABLE TOOLS AND EXPERIENCE THAT WILL STAY WITH ME AND BE USEFUL FOREVER
Throughout the process I've learnt different aspects and tools to help me address my issues and teach me how to handle and deal with my situation. Not just the situations I was currently in but also how to deal with situations that could arise in the future. It has become clear to me that I've been able to gain sustainable tools and experience that will stay with me and be useful forever. Like I said I was sceptical and didn't expect much at the beginning but always had an open mind. After a few weeks I've realised how much I've changed, not just mentally but physically as well. Week after week I feel better about myself and feel like I'm getting my normal happy life back in a way I haven't felt for a long time. Overall, I feel that what I've received was much more than I expected.
THE TEAM WAS INCREDIBLY FAST IN RESPONDING TO ME
I am really glad I stumbled on their profile when browsing through scruff. The team was incredible fast in responding to me and within the same day I had my introduction call to discuss my experience and what I needed help with. The person who assessed my situation was very kind, attentive and understanding. The whole process is anonymised so I didn't have to share any personal information (including my name) if I didn't want to.
There was zero judgement from the team, in fact, the opposite, they emphasised with my situation and shared their own experiences with chemsex, which made me feel comfortable in talking about mine, and gave me confidence that I had made the right decision in talking to them.