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Warcry: Going for it

Jo Pattimore talks to Warcry Jo Pattimore is following the steps to becoming the mum she wants to be.

My family migrated to Australia in 1988 from Wales, in the UK, when I was 13 years old. This was a really difficult time for me as I found it hard to settle and make new friends. I stopped going to church when we left the UK.

We travelled around Australia, which was really exciting, and I was extremely lucky to see a lot of the countryside. We ended up settling in Adelaide when I was 15. I went to a new high school, and again I found it difficult to make new friends.

 A few months after moving there I had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with depression. Over the next few years I was in and out of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

I started to experiment with alcohol and drugs before I was 18, and they became my life and who I thought I was. This went on for many years while I tried to function in my daily life. After about 15 years I started to see my life falling down around me. My marriage eventually broke down and when it ended in divorce, causing the sale of our house, I really hit the drugs hard.

During this time I had my first contact with The Salvation Army and took part in their Towards Independence program. I was living on the street and ended up in a sobering-up unit—that was certainly an eye-opening experience for me. From there I went to live in a place called the stabilisation unit and started to clean up my act. This was followed by living in a rehabilitation program for some time and I managed to remain clean and sober for 18 months.

Around this time I met my, the father of my children,  and it wasn’t long before we were taking drugs recreationally, and, once again, I rapidly spiralled out of control.

In 2008 my first son was born. I was excited and scared—could I be a good mum with my background and history?

That was when I thought I would step out of my comfort zone and go for it, so when my son was about a year old I went along to the Busy Bee playgroup at our local Salvation Army. Here I met the leader of the playgroup who became my main support. We started to build rapport over time, which turned out to be fantastic. She asked me if I wanted the church to pray for me and my family, to which I said, ‘Yes’.

In 2010, my second son was born and six weeks later I asked my partner to leave due to the domestic violence I was experiencing. I finally asked for help and was told about The Salvation Army’s Doorways program, which provides a range of supports to address immediate crisis needs of people who access Salvo emergency relief sites. 

I really struggled with the fact that I was going to be a single mother of two very young boys and it wasn’t long before I was using drugs on a daily basis again.

In May 2012, I voluntarily handed care of my boys to the Department of Families and Community Services and, fortunately for me, my mum was able to look after them while I focused on my recovery.

I am now eight months clean and sober. All during this time my point of contact in The Salvation Army has been a massive support to me. I am forever grateful to my support person —through her I was able to see there are good people out in the community and that with a little faith, hope and prayer, life can and does get better.

Other stories from Warcry

To read other stories from past issues of Warcry click here