I was born on the 5th of March 1975. I have four siblings – two brothers and two sisters. My sister Naomi is the eldest, I am the second, followed by my brothers Kyle and Callum and my youngest sister is Candice. I was born to a loving mother. I loved having an older sister and liked being the older brother in our clan.
I was always in trouble and visiting the hospital due to operations and miss adventure in my early years. I was a shy child from the age of four through to six. Mainly because I had a speech impediment and had to attend speech therapies. On a laughing matter, I blamed my parents based on my father being from Scotland and my mother from Liverpool.
I enjoyed school but attended a few schools early in my first years due to my father’s job and my parents’ indifference. I found my As and Bs in running, swimming and art. Throughout my early childhood memories I remember play-fighting with my younger brothers, learning of my fighting ability and that of my brothers’. Together we stood strong growing up.
My mum kept us in line sometimes with a heavy hand. At times of punishment I would smile. Actually, I would smile whenever in trouble. My mum would think I was being smart but soon she learnt it was my coping mechanism to stop from showing fear. I hated crying and found it weak to do so.
My parents soon knew I would only cry if I was really in pain. Which in turn saved my life after falling from a Tarzan swing at a local after school hang out spot. I was taken to hospital and doctors told my parents I was fine just a little bruised. My dad mentioned that I’ve cut fingers with knives had multiple operations and he had never seen me cry in pain. Doctors still insisted I was fine and to take me home to rest.
My parents didn’t listen and took me to Fremantle hospital from Armadale. Upon arrival I was x-rayed and it was discovered I was internally bleeding from a ruptured spleen. Within an hour I was operated on it turned out I had 2 spleens. My original spleen was removed due to the fact it was in pieces like a squashed tomato. 10% of people have extra body organs. I was lucky to be one of them thank God. Throughout my life I’ve had many accidents from a car crash that nearly killed me to being hit by a car. Massive head trauma in both accidents.
In high school I started smoking weed which lead to acid and alcohol. At 14, I snorted speed and was introduced to the drug scene. With that came knowledge of people in high places. I was selling big amounts of weed, setting up drug deals. I started to work after leaving school mid-Year 11 and got a job roof tiling. I loved the tradie’s lifestyle and the increased strength roof tiling gave me. I had always fought other kids in my neighbourhood without much care. At the age of 16 I ran into trouble over a weekend splashed in drugs. I was involved in five fights which lead to many more and over a 16-year period I had many more over 150 unexpected fights and planned fights.
I started injecting speed at 17 but had control of my use. By 18, I was out of home, living at my sisters and I ended up in jail for multiple assault charges, damage to property and breaking my probation for burglary and forced entry. While in jail, I ran into trouble or trouble found me. I was set upon by four men. I put up a good fight but eight hands pillow punching you does a good job. After that I didn’t care for much.
I continued on with life shutting people out and using more drugs, mixing all sorts and injecting pills, acid adrenaline, coke with speed, even alcohol. I maintained a good work ethic throughout it all eventually found work up North due to my countless trips to Tom Price to see my dad to keep from trouble. I worked hard, earnt good coin and traveled, spending two years living in Europe and getting lost in the drug scene there. It’s very fun being an Aussie male with all the female attention over there. But I needed to come home.
On arriving back in Australia, I became avid meth user for over five years on and off. I was working but spending my earnings recklessly. I was reintroduced to my partner Narelle through Facebook. Narelle and I attended the same school growing up. So, it was nice to be talking with her, she is the love of my life and she brought me back out of myself, allowed me to love her and gave me a son. Something I can’t thank her for but over our time together I relapsed time and time again losing all her trust, respect and hope. Before my last relapse I had been clean for 11 months. Things between us were great we had a trip planned, a ring picked out and I was going to propose to my gorgeous girl. But I lost it all. For I chose the needle in my arm two weeks before going to Bali. I used drugs while caring for our son while Narelle was in hospital dealing with cystic fibrosis. I’m a selfish prick. I lost everything, I lied when I should have been honest and I was told to leave.
I felt worthless and so disappointed with my lack of control and how I have just made the love of my life feel. I took so much from her that day leading me to utterly hating myself. I lost my job, respect for myself and over 3 months I was wilfully killing myself with meth use, leading to me swapping my vehicle for meth and injecting 4 to 5 points at a time. On the night of November 25, I hung myself… it failed. I ended up in a mental health ward. I had to call my mum to help me. I’m sorry mum. Eleven days later, I called Shalom and was given Pete’s number. Peter saved my life that day and on Christmas Day with my mum watching I was reborn in Pete’s presence and in God’s.
Since that day, I haven’t looked back and God and the Holy Spirit dwells within me and the strength I feel warms my heart with all that has come back into my life hold-fast for I am never going back there. I would like to thank all involved that have helped me from day one since being allowed into the Shalom program and for seeing a teachable good man in me or a 83-kilo lost soul that lost his way. Thanks Peter for giving me your time and all my brothers in Shalom.
Chantelle’s Story Pt. 1
Our wedding was perfect. I cried so much I could barely get through my vows. I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish them. We didn’t have a lot of money but we made it beautiful. I never thought I was going to get married. I always grew up thinking it was just a piece of paper. I wasn’t going to bother, and Pete was the same but when we met each other that changed. I saw something there. Something special. A different mind. Different to anyone I’d ever met. He was soft and gentle. Pete was smoking marijuana when we met and I made it clear that if we were going to be together there was to be no drugs. That was our agreement. We had been together ten months when he proposed and a couple of days later I found out I was pregnant. I thought it was meant to be. Everything was perfect.
I can remember both of our families weren’t too excited for us but I really couldn’t see why at the time. I was so happy. I had found love with this perfect, gentle soul who was so good to me and I didn’t understand why they weren’t happy for us. I always felt like a bit of a black sheep in my family and I wanted to do this right. I was really proud. We had a beautiful home, we were married and now were having this baby. The fact that we had done it all on our own was a big accomplishment for us.
When I was pregnant, my hormones made me crazy. Once I threw a mug at Pete, probably because he had made my drink wrong or something crazy like that and he tried to catch it. It smashed in his hand and he was bleeding but all he was worried about was me. He came running over to give me a hug. After the first trimester it settled down but he was just so understanding through it all. I could do no wrong in his eyes. We got our little girl and we always said there’s something very special about little girls and their Dads.
Pete really wanted to study horticulture. It was his passion. He would spend every spare minute in the garden so when our daughter was about 2 and a half we decided that he would quit his job and take 6 months off to spend some time with her and then he would start his study and complete a degree in horticulture. I went back to work full time. I took on four jobs. I worked and then I would come home and work from home. I thought everything was okay. I would leave very early in the morning and not finish until about 10pm but everything seemed fine. The house was clean. Dinner was cooked and jobs were always done.
But then things started to get a bit strange. I remember asking Pete to do the dishes once and when I came home the dishes were done but he had pulled every single thing out of all the cupboards in the kitchen. He explained to me that he thought while he was cleaning he might as well wipe all the shelves but he had gotten tired and would finish it the next day. It took three days for me to be able to get back in there and he had packed everything back in a different spot. It’s a bit strange to go into your own kitchen and not be able to find a spoon.
No alarm bells were going off yet though. I thought it was odd but everyone has their own way of doing things I guess.
Then I asked Pete to clean the back patio and a similar thing happened. When I went to have a look, he had built a three storey high cubbyhouse out of old pallets and spread his collection of about 150 empty garden pots all over the back yard. There were pots everywhere and our 2 year old was climbing on the very wobbly cubbyhouse. My daughter and I went to Perth to see my Mum for a few nights and when I came back I found a needle, still in the packet, in the bathroom. That was not okay. Pete swore black and blue that he had a friend over and he had no idea that the friend had it or had left it in there.
During this time, money started to disappear out of our account. Honestly, I was running things on a tight budget. I would explain to him that the money in the accounts was already allocated to bills but he would just draw it anyway. It wouldn’t be a lot. Maybe a hundred here and fifty there. When I questioned him, there was always a legitimate answer. He would explain that he had been to the hardware to grab more soil and seedlings and I believed him because he was always in the garden or he would tell me he needed to fill up the car.
and then it started getting out of hand.
I had paid two years in advance on our home loan so that Pete could have the 6 months off. We kept paying it even during that time so that if things got tight once he started Uni I knew we would be alright. One day the home loan account came up as overdrawn and I questioned Pete. He promised he hadn’t touched it so I marched down to the bank and blasted them. They printed off this sheet that showed all the withdrawals. A couple of times a week. $250 here, $500 there. He has spent the whole two years that we had paid off. I stood in the bank bawling my eyes out with everyone there looking at me. It wasn’t the first time I had gone down there and done that. I should have probably known then but I still wasn’t certain. He always had answers. He was my husband and I believed him. No one was telling me any different either.
When I sat down and added it all up he had spent well over $80,000 in 6 months and at that point I said to myself ‘wake up, something is going on here.’ We took Pete to the Doctors and he was diagnosed with bipolar. One of the symptoms of bipolar is excessive spending.
My first thought was ‘thank God it’s not drugs’.
I had asked him straight out if he had spent the money on drugs and he said that he had bought a little bit of pot but that’s all.
He wasn’t sleeping at night and then he was sleeping for days on end. The doctor explained it as rapid cycling, another symptom of bipolar. Pete had issues before and he knew what to say and what not to say. I felt so sorry for him. My husband was sick. He had bipolar. All I knew is I was going to help him but at that point things were getting pretty erratic at home. Our daughter had gone back into nappies after being fully toilet trained and she was obsessed with her ipad, I couldn’t get it off her. I decided that Pete should go and stay with his sister in Melbourne for a bit. I really struggled to get him on the plane. He told me to drive to Perth and he would meet me there. He didn’t have a car and when I asked him how he was going to get there, he told me he was going to will himself there. He was lying on the floor screaming hysterically and he wouldn’t pack his bag. When he came back from Melbourne he admitted it was drugs.
Our house quickly turned into a war zone. We fought all the time, yelling and screaming. It was horrible. We couldn’t even look at each other. I put our house up for rent and as soon as I found a tenant, we moved to Perth. I knew I had to get out of the situation, but Pete had nowhere to go and I told him he could come with and we could have a fresh start. He apologized. He told me it wasn’t that bad and that he had it under control. He wanted the fresh start too. He lasted about two weeks and then ran away and was gone for a few days. Then the night before our little girl’s birthday he took my car and disappeared again. He came back two hours into her birthday party.
It just kept happening. He would come home and then disappear. At one stage he took my car for two weeks. I was at home with no idea where he was. One night our daughter fell off the lounge and almost hit her head on the coffee table, I had no way of getting her to a Doctor if she had. I found out where he was and called the police crying. They told me that because we were married the car was shared property. I told them he was under the influence of drugs. They flagged the car, pulled him over and said he looked fine so they sent him on his merry way. I had to get my brother and a family friend to go and find him and get the car back.
By this point I knew our marriage was over. I had called him, begging him to bring my car back but he wouldn’t. I was really struggling but it wasn’t about me, it was about our child. Yes I was sad but it was all about her. I would give myself an hour in the morning to have a breakdown before she woke up and then we would get on with our day and if I was having a really bad day then I would have a little cry in the shower that night.
I still wanted to help him. He was the father of my child…
Pt 2 is on our Facebook page.
“A Mother’s Story of A Changed Son” Mum’s Testimony
A family background snapshot.
Brendan’s father and I started married life together in our teen years. Before we were 22 years of age we had two sons. Five years on we were blessed with our third son, Brendan. We relocated to Perth where he commenced school. He settled into primary school, without any dramas he was a quiet, reserved child (unlike his brothers). As a little fella he tried out at different sports; Minky, Tee Ball, Football and Karate. He stuck with Tee Ball and went on to play Baseball into his teen years.
Brendan commenced secondary education at CBC in Freo. Once again his quiet demeanor saw him fit in well at school; he mostly obeyed the school rules and did enough in class for him to achieve average grades. Brendan had a passion for sketching and art.
The family unit had broken down, marriage was on the rocks and his brothers were out of control. Home life was full of aggression, excessive drinking & violence which was a very different picture to what was perceived on the outside. Brendan was mid secondary schooling at this stage. I believe very affected by the male role models in his life.
Brendan was at near the end of year 11 when he went to do work experience at a Panel & Paint shop. It was about here where he started digging his heels in he refused to go back to school instead he worked labouring in odd jobs until he commenced an apprenticeship in Auto Body Refinishing he went on to be awarded Apprentice of the Year in 1997. During this period Brendan was involved in a serious motorbike accident however he did go on to complete his apprenticeship at a later date.
He bought his first home at a young age, he was pretty organised worked at various panel & paint shops he was always chasing the dollars. At this point I thought he was doing pretty well. I don’t know why but it didn’t even occur to me that he was involved in selling and using drugs. Then he started to be in this dark place stopped going to work was unreliable. It wasn’t long after that I realised he was up to no good, at first I thought it was marijuana, but he told me he was using amphetamine, he felt sad & mixed up he said since the accident he was struggling . I went off on my tangent of trying to fix him. Running him around to be treated for depression and anxiety.
I was naive and gullible when it come to all my sons, demons lived in our house which I kept ignoring and making excuses for. I have and still do feel guilty about our family life and feel that it has affected all three of my sons.
Brendan was in a stormy relationship for a number of years with the mother of his son. Their son was born in 2007, not long after the relationship broke down. Brendan was in a dark place and was being treated and medicated for depression thought to be a result from the accident. He continued to use drugs and it was soon evident he was not taking care of himself or paying any bills, his debts were a nightmare .. so I took over and managed the debts and put his house up for rent, from which I was able to clear his debts.
He came back home to live, took on being a father seriously in fact he was an awesome dad changing nappies, prepping formula, putting him to sleep, he adored his son. Josh was his whole reason for living and he loved him more than words he was gentle, kind and patient. But when he didn’t have Josh he was off living his other life. Lying in bed all day, prowling all night with no consideration or thought for anyone or anything. He played hard and took life for granted. His house was sold. Brendan squandered all the proceeds. This became a difficult time with him and I. I managed the money however he became aggressive and threatening if I didn’t withdraw and give him the large amounts he wanted. I didn’t like the scumbags that were hanging around my home and we had some serious arguments. I was dropping him off to the train station one night after an argument, we were both shouting in the car when I pulled up at the station he got out and slammed the door in that second I snapped and I am ashamed to say if it wasn’t for the bollard I think I would have run him over.
Eventually he moved out to live with people of his own kind.
Now he wasn’t just smoking meth, he progressed to injecting at first he couldn’t do it on his own because of his fear of needles but he had plenty of ‘friends’ that were quite willing to help him out, he overcame his fear of needles and meth became his best friend and his family. He lived in squalor and filth with his meth, money and a bunch of hanger ons. I was truly ashamed of whom my son had become but I continued to support him to pay his bills to run him around and sit with him through appointments. I was his lackey, sure it was his choice and he called the shots but my love and support was what enabled him to get this far. I couldn’t let him go I didn’t want to lose him; I was angry with my other sons my family (my greatest gift) had disintegrated): This became the darkest period, he shirked all responsibility, and he didn’t pay his bills and continued to rack up speeding fines. He was referred to a psychiatrist who felt that Brendan could be bipolar or had ADHD for most of his life and was treating him with anti psych med. I was grabbing at any explanation other than drugs. Late 2015 he contracted a serious blood infection and was hospitalised. He discharged himself/did a runner which was his style. I found out later that he actually was using drugs and also selling them from hospital.!
He then had some sort of accident on a quad bike and sustained some injuries once again he was in hospital. He escaped the hospital with the canular still his arm. The police were notified as he was in danger of contracting infection. I found him at his rental place pretty busted up with the canular still in his arm. The next time he was in hospital and out to it, I took his jeans and shoes that way I knew he wouldn’t do a runner and I had peace for at least a little while.
He was evicted bouievfa Mandurah with a girl who was also heavily into dealing and using. He was spiralling out of control. Two co-dependents living together equalled an ugly, violent and disastrous relationship. I didn’t want Josh being around either of them. I feared for his safety. He was a hopeless drug addict at this stage; she was a cunning and manipulative drug addict. A match made in hell.
He was admitted to hospital in March 2016 whilst in a psychotic episode. As his next of kin I was called into the hospital and was told about his extensive drug use and these psychotic episodes would continue. He was hearing voices constantly he was frightened he was either running and disappearing or laying around home crying. He had me convinced my house was surrounded by people that were going to shoot him. After a particularly frightening night I told Brendan he was on his own I had had enough but more hospital admissions and we were back on the merry go round. I was a sucker for his begging and pleading.
Monday April 4 2016 I left for work very concerned, he was sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands. I had some bizarre messages from him during the day then nothing. In my heart I knew something was seriously wrong. When I got home I found him unconscious sprawled out on the dining room floor soaked in urine and vomit he wasn’t fighting for life he had given up, he had taken a whole box around sixty quetiappine, a handful of diazepam and there was a needle laying on the floor. I turned him to his side rang 000 and waited outside I couldn’t look at him or stay with him. I prayed please God don’t let my son die; please help him I kept asking over & over. The police and ambulance arrived he was admitted to intensive care where he remained for a nearly a week before transferring to a secure pysch ward as an involuntary patient.
After about 5-6 weeks he was discharged and was straight back on the meth. The psychosis & the voices were back. I wasn’t living life I was barely existing I was so frightened of where this was going to end. It was a merry go round of psych appointment after pysch appointment, hospital admissions, psychotic episodes, depression, anxiety, and shouting or broken and crying. He started looking into rehabs and talking about change. I had counselling from a Mental Health social worker and a team of psychiatrist. I was told to let go, to stop him from coming home. I was enabling and accepting of everything he did. I agreed to deny him access to my home. They asked me to have a meeting and tell him he was no longer welcome at my home I agreed and we went ahead with security on alert. He went berserk and once again he was placed in a locked ward as an involuntary patient. They wanted me to apply for a restraining order, I just couldn’t do it but I agreed to call the police if he turned up uninvited.
I had looked at plenty of rehabs both local & rural WA,I knew about Shalom from the internet but I didn’t even bother him with it, he ran away from another easier rehab, he had detoxed twice he had escaped psych wards he would never hack Shalom. One Saturday night I was sitting at home feeling sorry for myself, so I prayed to my God, please can you help my son get better, let him know you are waiting for him, if he is not worthy of your love could you please let him go to find peace in heaven. The next day Brendan rang me to talk about Shalom, he said he needed to be there he was crying. He sent me a text telling me that Shalom was the only place that he felt good about. I owas over the whole scene and never got my hopes up.
Apparently he rang Peter a few times usually he would just give up but he was adamant about getting there. He eventually spoke to Peter and was told to come to an appointment at 10am the next day and to ask me to come with him. It was a pretty tense drive out to the office it was worse in the meeting. I felt so humiliated I knew I was the enabler but Pete made it very clear in no uncertain terms. The meeting ended with Peter accepting him into the program on the spot. So it was cold turkey for Brendan, no cigarettes, no methamphetamine and no prescription medication. He managed about 8 days and as usual if it was too hard he did a runner I picked him up in Welshpool he was whingeing to me about all that he didn’t like about Shalom, I told him to shut up, I drove to a park bought us a coffee and then was going to give him some pamphlets for homeless shelters. I was not ever going to take him back home. He asked me if I wanted him to go back to Shalom I told him I didn’t care what he did; he asked to use my phone so he could ring Pete. I thank God he was accepted back in. He buckled down and started to open his heart, reading the bible helped him to accept and be grateful for the chance of a new beginning. There have been trials and tribulations along the way but each week saw him breaking down barriers and becoming stronger in his mind and body.
September 2017 Brendan and his son went on the Fathers Day camp a really special bonding time for them both. Josh is 10 years going on 30, his love and acceptance of his dad is fantastic especially now when he tells me how proud he is of Brendan and believes in him ‘for real’. That is thanks a lot to his mum; she is caring, kind and loving. She has always been there for Brendan as a friend and as Josh’s dad.
October 2017 Brendan was granted leave for a weekend to go on a Family Scout camp with his son. This was a hard one he hadn’t really mixed with people in the outside world especially a Scouting community. Brendan was fraught with nerves beforehand but he came away thinking I can talk to people I don’t feel inferior. I had a great time with my son.
Brendan, Josh and I had the pleasure of a week’s holiday together in Walpole back in January this year. I can now truly appreciate the changed person he has become. Each day was a new adventure exploring the Walpole Region and beyond. We did so many amazing life inspiring activities before Shalom, Brendan was truly a lost soul. I thought he would die and in my head I was always planning for that day I would say goodbye to him forever. My son in 2018 has progressed beyond my wildest dreams.
His ethics are second to none; he is patient, gentle and kind but strong in mind, body and spirit. He feels blessed to have been forgiven and gives thanks to our Lord every day. He plans and prepares for the days ahead. I love his caring and considerate ways, his beautiful manners and respect he gives to others. He is mindful and compassionate towards other those are struggling to rebuild their lives. I am very proud of Brendan; each stage has seen him grow in strength and character. I feel very blessed and give thanks to our Lord.
I will be forever grateful to Pete, Brad who not only counselled Brendan but took time to help me accept and open my heart again, to all those at Shalom House for supporting us along the way.
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