Resilience against all odds is an underlying theme of Suzzanne’s journey. She and her husband have overcome multiple setbacks to emerge stronger each time. She shares her story and some valuable advice in this interview.

A house fire almost claimed the life of your husband?

Yes, many years ago I almost lost my husband in a devastating house fire. He survived, but had to endure years of intense pain, endless skin grafts and depression. Unfortunately, he turned to alcohol to escape the reality and soon became dependent.

How did he overcome the alcohol dependency?

At some point my husband acknowledged he needed help, and turned to Holyoake. He joined their Men’s Program along with a mate. It wasn’t easy, but the patient counsellors helped them through the process. To this day, he is grateful to Holyoake for their non-judgemental approach and also the life skills he continues to draw on.

You decided to come to Holyoake as well…

Yes, I felt quite overwhelmed by the fire and the traumatic after-effects. Holyoake has an excellent Women’s Program to support people like me who are impacted by someone else. This program highlighted the futility of self-blame and taught me some valuable coping skills. I realised it was easier to change myself rather than battling to change someone else. It helped make me far more resilient.

How did alcohol impact on your life?

When my husband and I stopped drinking, our social circle shrank significantly and we felt left out. We decided to explore new friendships with like-minded people who didn’t believe alcohol was essential to celebrate life. My husband became a triathlete and I evolved into a successful business coach.

Do you have any advice for someone hesitant to seek help?

From my own experience, I encourage you to look after your mental health. If you feel stressed, overwhelmed or helpless, reach out and don’t worry about how other people may react. Think of it as going to a gym to improve your mental wellness. Holyoake will never judge you and their services are free, so you have nothing to lose.

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