UK Homeless Woman Shares about Recovering from Alcohol Abuse and Mental Illness

UK Homeless Woman Shares about Recovering from Alcohol Abuse and Mental Illness

– [Interviewer] Denise. We are in Manchester, but
you’re homeless where? – In Cornwall. – [Interviewer] Okay,
and that’s in England. – Yes. Yeah, yeah. I forget you’re from America. (laughs) – [Interviewer] So we’re both having a little bit of a surreal moment here, because we’ve known each
other online for a little bit. – Yeah, mm-hmm. – [Interviewer] And we just met in person for the first time yesterday. – Yeah. – [Interviewer] You’re homeless. – Yes, I’m back in supported housing. The first time I was in supported housing I’d just come out of rehab. I’m back in supported housing
now as a positive move, you know, it’s more to
do with my mental health. I don’t have any alcohol
issues or substance issues that were the problem before. So yeah, I felt like it was a
backward step at first, maybe, but the way that my mental
health was being affected, I couldn’t afford to just flip out and put myself on the street,
so I put moves in place so I knew that I’ve got the support. So I’m back in supported housing. I live with five other people. It’s not a bad place, it’s
actually a really good house. And for now, it’s what I need. While I figure out my
next steps, basically. So it’s been nearly five years since I left my flat, and my marriage, and all of that stuff, which is what put me homeless in the first place. And it’s been a long, hard slog. Not all of it has been roses. But I’m a mental health writer now, I have an online blog, and I spend my time talking about homelessness,
and sharing my story, and my mental health journey,
and my addiction issues that I’ve now, thankfully, overcome, hopefully to educate and inspire people. Because we’re not write-offs. Just because you’re having a bad time, it doesn’t mean that you’re a no one. You’re still a person with
a story, and with talents, and passions, and drive,
but you can’t always put that forward, especially
if you’re sat on the pavement day in, day out, because nobody seems to give a rat’s ass about
the situation that you’re in. So now that I’m well and I’m
recovered and all of that, I’m fortunate enough to be in a position that I can campaign and I
can draw attention to this. And that’s why we’re out
today and we’re talking to people on the street, and we’ve been to the homeless summit in Manchester, and we’ve met other like-minded people. And it’s been incredible. There’s obviously a lot of
good going on in Manchester, but as we’ve just seen, we’ve
just walked past two guys who clearly are slipping
through the cracks. And those are the people
that we need to focus on. Not the people that have got the beds and that seem to be okay, it’s the people sat by the bins with the trench foot. I don’t know… Just the lack of hope that
anybody actually gives a shit. – [Interviewer] So you’ve
been homeless five years. – Mm-hmm. Yeah. Coming up for five. – [Interviewer] And how we first connected is because you were writing about drinking, and bad
relationships, and sofa surfing, which we call couch surfing in the states. – Oh okay, yeah. – [Interviewer] And
struggling through not having a permanent residence as a woman. Could you tell me about that? – Yeah, it was terrifying. And one of the things that
I talked about yesterday was how quickly you
adapt to a bad situation, and abnormal becomes normal. And you do, you wake up on a sofa and you’re reaching for a
can and everything’s messy, but you can’t remember back to normality because this is your normality now. Things have shifted so quickly and so far that you’re slipping further and further into this abyss of
depression and hopelessness. And you’re surrounded by people that aren’t necessarily good people. There are people, when
they can see you’ve got nothing left to give of yourself, they will still try and pick your bones. And that was what it was
like for me, as a woman. I had some nasty encounters with some not very pleasant people. And thankfully, I’m here and I’m in a completely different place now. But it was shocking, and it
was more luck than judgment. I was a wrecking ball, I was vulnerable, I was intoxicated and I
couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t even remember
some of the situations I was in and got out of. Things were that bad, and I look back and it terrifies me. So now I’m thankful that I’m here and I’m in one piece,
and everything like that, but I would never ever wish
that on my worst enemy. – [Interviewer] And what
people don’t understand, so, from what I know what
you were going through, your drinking increased because
you were wanting to forget. – Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. It was denial, you know? My marriage had broken down. I knew that I was gonna lose
the flat that we lived in. I had to rehome my pets. Everything that we’d pulled together as a couple over the years was going. And I didn’t want that to happen, but I couldn’t prevent it,
and so I just pretended that it wasn’t going to
happen until it did happen. I was, I was homeless. And it was horrendous. And so I was drinking more, I
was grieving, I was depressed, I was lonely, I was scared for my future. I didn’t have the coping
mechanisms for that. And so I drank to escape. And the depression fed the alcohol, and the alcohol fed the depression, and it just went into this
vicious circle of chaos. – [Interviewer] And how’d you get out? How’d you stop the vicious circle? – I sought professional help. I knew that I couldn’t carry
on the way that I was going. I didn’t want to carry on
the way that I was going. I either wanted it to
be over, and be dead, or I needed to be in recovery. And so I chose recovery,
and I went into detox, and I did rehab, and I stuck
to the program religiously, and it worked, and I
came out and I’m nearly two years sober now,
the 29th of this month. – [Interviewer] Congratulations. – Thank you. Yeah, that will be my anniversary. – [Interviewer] Now here, detox, because everybody has health care here. So I’m assuming the
medical health care system kicks in more than it does in the states. – Definitely, yeah, yeah. – [Interviewer] So if you want to get sober here, there’s support, where in the United States,
there often isn’t support. – Yeah, we’re lucky. For me, in Cornwall,
definitely, I probably waited about six weeks, I think,
for a bed and detox. And it was professionally
run, the staff were fantastic, and I really had the support that I needed and I was very, very lucky. My support worker had to argue against another four or five
people to get me my beds. It was whoever had the
best worker behind them, with the best case, that
was who got the treatment. And I was lucky enough that I got mine, and I’m thankful that I stuck
with it and I’m here now. – [Interviewer] So, um… A lot of women go through
what you went through and they don’t talk
about it, understandably. What gave you the courage
to start writing about it and to start blogging about it? – A friend encouraged me to write, because she knew that I
was struggling in my head. I was newly sober, I
was living in a hostel. Again, it was a new environment
and I was very unsettled and very insecure, and
she encouraged me to write to just get what was in my head out there. And so I did, and I started to enjoy it, and then I joined Twitter,
had a little website, and I started to post the
things that I’d written, and then people were reading my work. And that was encouraging and
it inspired me to write more. And then more people read my work, and it just kind of grew from there. And then I just thought, do you know what, I’m not ashamed of the
journey that I’ve been on. People see it as a shameful thing. When I was ill, I was ashamed. But I’m not now, and I can see that I probably couldn’t have prevented a lot of what happened
to me from happening, and so now I’ve spun that around, and I’ve turned it into a good thing, and I write about my addiction,
I write about my depression, I write about homelessness,
I write about bad men, I write about everything
that I think is relevant to show other people that,
one, this stuff happens, two, you can get out of it, and three, you can turn it around
and leave it behind, and that’s what I’m doing now. – [Interviewer] And the
reason that there’s shame around all of this is because
there’s so much stigma. And it’s a personal choice, not everybody is gonna feel comfortable
about writing and being public, about their mental
illness or homelessness. So you’re writing, and you
just produced an animated film. – Yes, yes. (laughs) – [Interviewer] You know? – Woo! (laughs) – [Interviewer] And you’re homeless. – Yeah. But this is another thing,
all of this creativity, I used to drink to
think that I needed that if I was going to try and
focus my thought patterns. But it was just dumbing me down, you know? And now that I don’t drink,
all the creativity and things are there, and I never knew I had them. And now I’m embracing
them and I’m learning new things about myself. I write, I blog, I
podcast, I’ve made a film, I am a conversationalist. This was unheard of two years ago, I couldn’t string a sentence together. And now I’m shouting from the rooftops look, look at where I am. – [Interviewer] What would
you say to other women who might be going through the same thing, and might be seeing this? – I would say have a bit
of faith in yourself. And have a bit of self-respect. Because the lack of
self-respect and self-worth was what was keeping me in a bad place. And if you can look in
the mirror and just say, do you know what, I’m
worth more than this, whatever your situation is,
if it’s making you unhappy, and you’ve got an ability to change it, then start making that change. And you will be transformed. And it takes courage, but
it’s worth taking the risk because you know where you
are, you know what you’ve got, but you don’t know what
you’ve got to look forward to. And if you don’t try, you’re
never gonna know that. So that would be my message. – [Interviewer] If you had three
wishes, what would they be? – If I had three wishes, I would– – [Interviewer] Wait. Did you prepare for this? – (laughs) No, I didn’t, actually, but I just thought, oh,
I know this question. If I had three wishes, I would definitely change the fortunes of those two men that we’ve just spoken to, because that was heartbreaking on both counts. And my third wish would be that everybody could just show a bit of compassion, and just reconnect as human beings. We’re so caught in social media, and our phones, and what we read, and what we see on the TV, we lose track of what is actually in front of our face, and if you can just pay attention, and just think, do you know what, instead of just walking past and thinking, oh, I can’t do anything,
what if you could? What if you just say hi, and
you just make somebody’s day? It can be that simple. So, yeah. They would be my three wishes. – [Interviewer] Well thank you very much for talking with us. – Oh, thank you, Mark. (laughs) (soothing music)

100 thoughts on “UK Homeless Woman Shares about Recovering from Alcohol Abuse and Mental Illness”

  1. What an incredibly intelligent and inspirational woman ! More power to her ! All the best from your next door neighbor in Dublin Ireland !

  2. Mark, what do you mean by sleeping on couches in situations that are not safe? In her friends' houses? In houses the social services find for you to spend a night? I didn't understand your concept of hidden homeless. If you take in account people sharing a house, then almost everybody would be homeless.

  3. Such a great upload Denise so right about everything and spot on. specially about looking in the mirror and saying i am worth more than this situation she's so right.
    The UK government at the moment is evil homelessness is rife loads of towns and cities people are sofa surfing as well. The UN came to the UK last week and did a report about the state of the uk and said what the government is doing to the uk is illegal. Heres the official report that was on the guardian news paper online last week.

  4. I just read some of her blog. She writes really well. Real depression is a bad thing, its something i know about too. I recognised where this video was filmed, in the northern quarter part of Manchester. I live about 8 miles from here in North Manchester. Just to add that i made a video of Manchester centre about a month ago, it is in my uploads on my channel on here if anyone wants to see it ? Its titled : A wander around Manchester. Have a great day 🙂

  5. Carole Knowles loveing life.

    She amazing lady and lady been the word well done I’d like to shake your hand I have depression but I’ve just got the help from well being so baby steps xx

  6. How is being in 'supported housing' homeless? She says she is in 'supported housing' with five other people. Therefore, she is not currently homeless. Why do you keep saying she is homeless?

  7. Invisible people, you should make a video about tips for being homeless! I think that would be cool, you've got a lot of experience with homelessness and have probably learnt a thing or two about surviving on the streets. It could come in handy for one of us in the future.

  8. "And thats in England" lol. Thats the first thing I thought too. England apparently has cheap cider wine that gets a lot of people hooked and women over there are destroying their livers even in their 30s and 40s. And heroin of course is bad there too.

  9. We need more strong positive caring people like this beautiful lady,
    God Bless her to find
    A better life,home,
    And hope she can help
    All those she can ,
    With her inspirational writings,
    And those watch her here !☺

  10. I really respect how were able to find the emotional strength to be at the bottom and pull yourself up to where you are right now! Also, it hit me, within a positive manner, when your first 2 wishes were for the well-being and betterment of the two homeless men that you had just met.
    I have never been homeless myself, but as a security officer, you constantly carry food in your car. So, I stop and give food and water to people on the street. In addition, just as you brought up, if I am not in a rush to get somewhere, I always introduce and shake there peoples' hand. I then attempt to begin a conversation with them about anything I can think of since the aspect of loneliness is pervasive.
    I only wish that I was not the only one whom I see doing this! Everyone else walks by making mentally any excuse as to why they are just in doing so. And I am sure many, many do not need to make that justification to themselves as they simply could care less about the person they walked by.
    Anyway, I am very happy to see that you are doing better!!! You are an inspiration to so many on the streets whom are in complete despair and may be even suicidal! G-d be with you my friend!

    -jeffrey taylor

  11. 'The depression fed the alcohol & the alcohol fed the depression.'…I understand this all too well & am so glad Denise found the will to get out of that downward spiral. Best wishes to her!

  12. Hi Mark! A friend and I are trying to start a series like this here in Sacramento, CA. We plan on focusing mainly in this area so that fellow Sacramentans can get to know their neighbors.

    Lately, I've been going around and handing out socks, but I have a hard time asking for an interview after doing it. I feel that they might think i am only doing it to get an interview out of them.

    Question: How can I ask for an interview in the most respectful way? Thank you!

  13. Maui Babe Back Home

    What a lovely and intelligent woman you interviewed. She turned her personal experience into a journey once dark and hopeless into a brighter journey fought with hope, courage and strength. Not only did she turn her life around but she took her journey and shares it amongst others. What a blessing she is to those experiencing the same struggles she did. We all have potential and she offers hope so others may climb out from their struggles. A hope that can be done with seamless grace and dignity. God bless this beautiful woman. Once we uncover the veils that can hold us back and keep us down, our true selves are reborn with opportunities to be discovered. Just as the sun makes its mark on its horizon each day, our lives can rise up and shine ever so brightly.
    🌸 Dum spiro, spero. “While I breath, I hope" -Latin Proverb 🌸

  14. Lovely lady glad to see her sober and free from the demons of addiction best of luck from a recovering alcoholic and addict from Ireland

  15. Proud of you. But this is a warning. Be very careful about what you smoke, snort, inject, or drink. Most of the drugs on the street are not real drugs. They are chemicals and poisons and are called synthetic. There is not much real weed on the street. If you don't have access to marijuana dispensary, the street weed you buy will be incense from china and sold here as kush. Or flakka. Now the street weed is being tainted with fentanyl. Also from china..As precursors. Same for cocaine. Not real. Just a bunch of chemicals that don't get you high but clogs your lungs and raised heart rate causing dizziness. There's very little real cocaine on the street. Heroin. Also tainted with poisons and chemicals like fentanyl and kroc. So people are not overdosing. Thry are being killed by these street gangs selling dangerous poisons as dope. It strong. Keep the faith. And be very careful of the street stuff you put in your body.

  16. there won't be enough welfare to help these people if we keep up the pace of immigration we're at now. We have homeless. Stop importing low wage workers, put our own disadvantaged in those positions. Makes my blood boil to think my taxes pay for people who frankly don't need the support.

  17. Your in my home town, as you will no doubt be aware the problem is pretty bad here, I wish the council would do more than put up bill boards of empty promises…good luck to you both..

  18. Very inspiring video! What an intelligent, lady! I like when she says, "you can turn it around and leave it, behind.." Encouraging words for All!

  19. One reason I like working in a food kitchen is it reminds me I have a sole and I have a morality and yes a brother and sisterhood on this planet….it's too easy to forget that or to think I can't open up or I'll be dragged down by those in pain and misfortune.

  20. I'm wishing her and all the homeless people the best. The EU is working hand In hand with the UN, they're making Britain build 300,000 homes a year on the tax payers dime, and they're selling native British people halal and kosher meat and products while their own native populations die down and live in poverty. It's heart breaking 🙁

  21. MARK CAN'T FIND LIVESTREAM FROM SUNDAY NIGHT. HAVE YOU KIM's INFO? I WANT TO SEND SOME WALMART GIFT CARDS (cdn) SO HER KIDS HAVE SOMETHING FOR XMAS. [email protected] thanks. (I have a social worker who helps with these cards. Really want to help. She was in great distress)

  22. I feel the struggle that you went through and glad you made it through the darkness. In Joseph Campbells work, he talks about the hero's journey and once the hero has delved deep into their own demons and has faced challenging times, they can now share their own stories, inspiration and how to overcome them for others, which is in your case the blog Denise.

    Wishing you the very best


  23. She is in supported living and he keeps calling her homeless. Why do we hang on to a label as if we don’t acknowledge her healing journey? She has survived it and is an incredible women that has arrived home to her true self and homelessness is behind her. She is very strong and wonderful.

  24. So much respect for all these people on this channel; Seems like the world needs more people with their attitude. Can't believe these are shunned. Says a lot about us on the other side. Wonderfull channel!

  25. Season Of The Bitch

    She's that one person at the party who ruins the vibe, not just because she drinks all the booze but because holding a conversation with her would make anyone want to slit their wrists… Jesus, lighten up lady, reprogram your brain..

  26. After watching this video I went on to read some of Denise's blogs. They are a very heartfelt, thoughtful, honest account of parts of her life which has often been difficult. As someone who is struggling day to day with alcohol abuse I give her lots of love and credit for making the steps and getting better

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