Renee MacDonald is a recovering meth addict who has made it to two years clean. Sadie Beckman talks to her about her journey.
Horowhenua mother of three Renee MacDonald wants to talk about her journey to help inspire others to take the first steps towards their own recovery.
She wants to show them it is possible to leave the shame of addiction behind and start living their best lives, even if it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Renee used meth for 10 years, fitting her life, kids and job around the addiction. She was kidding herself she was functioning while all the while her self-worth was slipping away as her mental health was compromised by the soul-destroying drug.
At her lowest point, she contemplated suicide and was experiencing such severe come-downs from the drug that she felt she was losing her mind.
Renee's background contributed to her addiction.
Sexually abused as a child and enduring a troubling upbringing, she turned to meth in adulthood after getting into an abusive relationship.
It was a way to feel she could escape the dysfunctional way of life she had come to think of as normal.
"I had been abused all my life, so to me that was normal behaviour to be treated that way - but it wasn't," she said.
"The only way that I could not have to deal with feeling like that all the time was to use.
The point I got to in my life was that I wanted to kill myself. Everything was breaking down - my spirit, my body, my mind - I was paranoid."
She reached a state officially termed psychosis, although said she finds the mental health system's diagnostic terminology "flippant".
"It was dark," she said.
Now though, with the help of support systems and techniques she has learned, Renee has managed to kick meth for good.
After studying Rongoā Māori medicine at Te Wānanga o Raukawa and discovering kombucha, she has launched a new business, Soul Sisters Kombucha, which is based on holistic health and wellbeing and also taps into her creativity, which in turn helps the healing process.
She also volunteers as a facilitator with an organisation called NZ P Pull which has been running in Levin and Ōtaki since November 2018.
It is a free, walk-in, non-judgemental service for people and their whānau who want to find help and support in their recovery journey.
However, despite high rates of meth use in the Horowhenua community, Renee said people seem to be struggling to turn to help.
She believes the shame attached to addiction is stopping some, as well as the fear of being able to take the first steps.
"You need strategies and pathways to help you do this," she said of people who want to quit meth.
"We have an amazing support group, a great team. We just want people to sit, they don't have to talk. It's an energy and it creates space - we just need to get more people in those rooms. "
NZ P Pull meetings are held in Levin every Monday from 10am to 12pm at Hinemoa House, 35/39 Hinemoa St, Levin.
Ōtaki meetings are on Thursdays each fortnight, with the next on Thursday March 7, from 6pm to 8pm at Taringa Roa, Mill Road, opposite Countdown supermarket.
A Facebook group for NZ P Pull is at www.facebook.com/groups/116256735497059
Where to get help:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.