‘Recovery is a work in progress’ - Taverham woman marks seven years in recovery from addiction and mental ill health

Rehabilitated ex-offender and alcoholic, Liz Ellis, who is now volunteering with Ormiston Families.P

Rehabilitated ex-offender and alcoholic, Liz Ellis, who is now volunteering with Ormiston Families.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

'To learn to love yourself, even like yourself, is hard.'

Those were the words of Liz Ellis, 50 and from Taverham, as she marked seven years in recovery from addiction and mental ill health.

Ms Ellis was a functioning alcoholic for 10 years. But her life spiralled out of control and she found herself in prison for theft, which led to serious mental health issues.

She said: 'I was surrounded by drink and couldn't stop myself, which could only lead to one thing, a breakdown. I lost everything, my home, my husband and my job.

'My consumption of alcohol was very high and so I stole to fuel my addiction as I wasn't working. It makes me sad to think now.'

But after a lot of hard work, and help from charity Ormiston Families, Ms Ellis' life is now back on track and she wanted to send a message that recovery was possible for World Mental Health Day last week.

She said: 'To learn to love yourself, even like yourself is hard because of your past, but you were ill. I still struggle and I am seven years in recovery.

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'I still have mental health problems and take 19 tablets a day for that. I have three personality disorders, anxiety and depression. But I fight against stigma about the illness to be decreased by my volunteering. But we need early intervention for children as the facts are quite scary.'

Ms Ellis, who volunteers for Ormiston Families, Time to Change, and Under One Roof, held an event at Taverham village hall last week to highlight how recovery was possible.

She said one woman who visited 'had no self worth because of her life'.

She said: 'I knew exactly how the lady felt, as I had been there too after 25 years of dual diagnosis (where a person has severe mental health problems but also suffers substance misuse). She came with a friend of mine and she said 'Liz will help you?' and I did. This is what else the day - and every day for me - was also about: helping people.'

Ms Ellis said: 'My constant recovery principle word is hope, that was all I had to cling to when I was very ill and constantly trying to end my life. Recovery does not always mean complete recovery. Very much more it is a work in progress, this shows the severity of the illness.

'I feel so lucky I survived those 25 years. If I could go back and change those years of addiction, the pain, suffering and torment, I would not. It has made me who I am today, volunteering with real lived experience to help others, and that I would not give up for the world.'