Life beyond; Meet Mark

We recently sat down to catch up with Mark, the first Tiglin graduate, back in 2009. Twelve years following his graduation, he believes he received a second chance in life. He has opened up about his life and the journey that led to spiral down into a life of addiction and depression and what has helped him and given him the courage and meaning to keep going.

While describing his childhood, Mark said he came from a good family and had a great childhood.  Until later in his childhood when he was abused as a child, ''back then everybody looked after everybody, but obviously, there are bad people that hide among the good ones''.  Following these traumatic events, he continued his life as if nothing happened. After discovering his talent and interest in computers, he started studying IT at the age of 12.

When he started attending secondary school, he started smoking recreational drugs. During this period, the suppressed memories began to resurface. He felt angry, and this is in turn, made things only worse. But, because he was quiet and did everything required of him in school, nobody suspected anything, so the trauma went unnoticed. At 16, he started to be increasingly interested in music and began attending concerts. It led to him getting involved with ''not so good'' crowd, which led to him experimenting with drugs. After a few years of this, many of his friends took on responsibilities and moved on with their life. Until it was just him left and his need to fill the hole he felt inside. Then depression ensued.

After using various drugs, they stopped working, or he needed more of them. This process continued until he tried heroin once. It made him sick.  After, he took on drinking to feel better. That, in turn, made him feel even worse, and one day out of desperation, he retook heroin. He would have taken anything just for the pain to stop. This time he enjoyed it, it numbed his brain, and he thought he had found something that could stop him from killing himself. After breaking up with his long term girlfriend, one day, Mark did was he said he was never going to do. He injected heroin for the first time. This time he cried and cried because he knew what he had done and that he had crossed the line. He knew that ''normal life'' was out of reach.

During this period in his life, he was depressed. He had talents, he was going places, and now he was an addict. He decided to get justice and had gathered five more people that had suffered abuse from the same person and took him to the court of justice. Because he was an addict, nobody believed them. He felt like this was rock bottom, he was trying to get clean, to survive day by day and nobody believed him. They thought he was doing it for his selfish reason, and he was just an addict.

One night when he was walking by his best friend's house after seeing his the previous night, he saw his car on the driveway on a workday. That's when he realised something was wrong. So he went inside the house and found his cold body on the floor. He started crying and screaming. To this day, he never suffered more that night, and he had only seen him hours ago. He was ashamed. He even had to get someone to report it because the police had a warrant for his arrest.

After that night, the community started to discriminate against him. They were accusing him of causing it. That broke his heart. This pain and shame lead to him stealing money buying a bag of heroin with the intent to kill himself. He felt ashamed even more after that because his tolerance was too high to do anything. After being in and out of rehabs a few times in Scotland, Mark had felt that he had to change. It was the change or death, so he decided that he had to get away from the place that got him sick, so he left for Ireland.

Mark audio clip 01 

While in Ireland, he visited Tiglin. That was before it was officially open yet. On asking the current CEO Phil Thompson, he was given a bed in Tiglin and had lived there before the Centre was even open. He spent days sweeping the floor and doing anything he could find to do. He feels that Tiglin gave him a sense of community that he always longed for, which was a big reason for his recovery. It was a safe and non-judgmental environment where he had time and an opportunity to get better. A few months in his program, he had reached a realisation. While talking with the Centre's councillor, he learned how to love himself. It felt like a healing moment.

Mark audio clip 02 

After graduating from the program, Mark had started studying and had gotten a job. He stated that if he was to give a word of advice to a person recovering from addiction, it is '' to take one step at a time and be grateful first and foremost''. He said that ''drugs are a prison that takes colour away and he can finally see colour again''.

He emphasised that bad times make you stronger. It's the people that were weak that are strong now. There is no way around it. Today, Mark lives in his own house and has a great family, education, and a great job, but he takes a moment to pray and be grateful. Although the journey he has been through should have broken him, he feels like a stronger power than he had a plan for him and led him to where he is today.

''Many people are struggling, and that we need to be kind to each other and that there are no good people in the world, there are only bad people trying to be good''. Mark

Tiglin Column: November 5th of 2021