In the News: My chickens saved my life

I thought, if they can cope with the trauma they have experienced, then I’ve got to find the strength myself

I took my first overdose at 11, my second at 18 and my third just after my 21st birthday. It was a cry for help. I had lovely parents, but I was desperately unhappy.

I was sexually abused at the age of eight, in the 1960s. I was afraid I’d get the cane if I told a teacher, so I didn’t tell anyone. When my parents found out, all hell broke loose. The abuser went to jail, but I never spoke about it. I couldn’t face it.

I left school at 15 and worked for Royal Mail, first as a telegram boy and then as a postman. We’d finish at 12.30pm and go straight down the boozer. I’d have three or four pints, five, sometimes. Alcohol masked my depression, and by my early 30s I had become dependent. If I got bladdered, I could kick the demons out. One Christmas, I drank 48 cans of Carling in two days. I ended up in hospital. The doctor said, “You either pack in the drinking or you’ll die.”

That’s when, aged 34, I went to rehab and there followed six years without a drink. I lost six stone in weight and started cycling 15 miles to work and back. I’d never felt so fit.

Then, in 1997, I fell in love. It was a beautiful sunny day, we’d been to the Cotswolds and I had a beer. One became two, two became three… It was the ladder to oblivion.

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