'I lost a good friend that night. A mother lost her son' - mother-of-four on traumatic impact of car crash
A 28-year-old recovered drug and alcohol addict has revealed how she was so high one night that she doesn’t remember trying to stab a family acquaintance.
Carolyn Power from Wicklow began smoking hash and drinking as a teenager, and eventually her substance abuse spiralled out of control and her children were nearly taken into care.
The mother-of-four, who is now in recovery, left home at 15 years of age and from then, she stayed with friends, and eventually became homeless for a period.
At 17 years of age, in 2008, she was a back seat passenger in a stolen car when it crashed. The young man who was sitting beside her was killed.
Carolyn was lucky to escape with just some bruises and scratches, but she wouldn't fully realise the impact of the crash on her mental health until she went into rehab.
“I was sitting in the back beside the young fella who died. That was hard. He was only 16. I only had scratches and bruises,” she told independent.ie.
“I’ll never forget it. I lost a good friend that night. A mother lost her son that night.”
Carolyn now believes that she has been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after that crash, which may have contributed to her addiction behaviour.
“I got pregnant then with the eldest child and I did get clean for a while. I was clean for six years, or the addiction didn’t have control over me, life was alright. Then I relapsed - and I relapsed big time - and I didn’t come back from that. That was 2012 and 2013. I was pregnant on my second smallest.”
Carolyn did successfully get clean for periods of time throughout her twenties but the last time she relapsed, she was told by social workers that she could lose her children and they would be taken into care.
“[The last relapse] It’s two years of my life that I’ve lost. I said I need help or I’m going to lose my kids, that was in 2013/2014.”
Carolyn and her family agreed that her children be put into voluntary care with the children’s aunt.
“It got completely worse then. The kids were alright because they were in voluntary care,” Carolyn said.
“It was a nightmare. My mam told me I nearly stabbed someone and I couldn’t remember. If I had done that, I’d be spending the rest of my life in prison for something I don’t remember doing.”
“I was sleeping on the streets and my kids were in voluntary care, that’s when I was really, really bad.”
“Homelessness didn’t help. My addiction helped me get homeless, and then because I was homeless it didn’t help my addiction either. It works both ways.”
“Then I fell pregnant on Millie. That was my life line,” she said.
Carolyn detoxed in Beaumont Hospital, then relapsed, and then she came off the drugs herself by going cold turkey.
“Then I had Millie and I relapsed again," she told independent.ie.
“That’s when the social workers said they were going to take her.”
“Things changed a lot then.”
Carolyn, who features in a TV3 documentary tomorrow night, went into Coolmine Therapeutic Community Residential Services on August 25, 2016.
Coolmine is the only rehabilitation centre in Ireland which has childcare on site. This enabled Millie to have access to her daughter while she was in recovery.
“I had been in psychiatric wards. I wanted to commit suicide. I didn’t want to live anymore. I was very bad. I was in different treatment centres for many years.”
But she said: “Coolmine gets right to the root of the problem of why.”
“Millie actually did save my life in a way.”
“In the end I said I can’t do this anymore, I can’t lose her.”
“I was there for 11 months. I was on the floor. I had lost everything – my kids, my house.”
Carolyn now sees her children, now aged 10, seven, and four, every second weekend. Millie is now aged 22months.
“I really do owe [Coolmine] my life.”
The Rehab will air tonight at 9pm on TV3