Real Life

From addict to counsellor: How getting clean helped me find love

My bad choices were leading me to an unexpected place.

Melissa Hiemann, 31, from Cheltenham, Vic, shares her story:

I sat, alone and miserable in my small apartment and stared out the window.
How had everything gone so terribly wrong?
In tears, I reached for my phone and rang my mum.
"Why do I continue to make such bad choices?" I asked.
She just sighed.
I'd had a rough five years.
After high school, I'd gotten into a dysfunctional relationship.
We smoked weed, barely communicated, and were never truly happy.
Finally breaking up after four years, I went straight into another bad relationship.
It didn't last long and I continued to numb my pain with marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes.
Now at 26, I was in a really dark place, depressed, confused and knowing I needed help.
A friend recommended a therapist who'd achieved amazing results through hypnotherapy.
I was sceptical but went along anyway as I was feeling so desperate.
I was using drugs and alcohol to numb my pain.
My first session with the therapist was life-changing.
It took me back to where my pain started and the point where I started making really bad choices.
I knew I had to take responsibility for my own life.
"I actually feel excited about life again!" I told Mum, smiling.
The therapist had given me some exercises to do at home and over the following weeks I felt so much happier.
Colours seemed brighter, my head was clearer and I started looking after myself.
I went back for more sessions and became fascinated with how it all worked.
I started learning how to do it myself and did loads of research into the techniques.
I soon realised that I wanted to be more than just a patient so I began training and after a few months gained the qualifications I needed to become a practitioner.
At first, I just did it part-time, but soon it was going so well I was able to quit my sales job and open my own healing clinic, Mindset Reset.
One day, a familiar face appeared at my door.
"Ryan?" I said.
Nodding slowly, the man in front of me looked nothing like the Ryan I'd met at a health conference a year earlier.
Ryan in the depths of his addiction.
Back then, he was muscular, well-dressed and cheerful.
Now, he was pale, at least 15kg skinnier and his clothes were in tatters.
I could see he was in pain.
"I need help," he said.
He revealed he'd become addicted to crystal meth during a bitter divorce battle.
As it spiralled out of control, he blocked out family and friends, and his nutrition business went downhill.
We chatted about what his addiction was helping him to escape from and about how he'd started hating himself.
We worked on releasing the pain from his divorce and enabling him to forgive his ex-wife.
We want to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.
After just a few hours, he said he was blown away at how much better he felt.
"I've had a huge awakening," he said, amazed.
He came to see me once a week and over the following months he stopped using drugs and stopped seeing people who made him miserable.
He started a diploma in mental health and addictions, and I trained him in all my methods.
We came up with an idea to grow my business.
Focusing on treating mental health and addictions, we formed The Melbourne Centre of Healing and based ourselves in a clinic in a medical centre.
It was really hard work, but we kept each other going and soon we had a steady flow of patients.
Me and Ryan - we turned our lives around.
One day, a mutual friend confided that he thought Ryan had feelings for me.
I acted all surprised, but secretly I'd been feeling the same way about him for a while.
So the next day at work I mustered up the courage to tell him.
"Well, we should kiss," he replied, grinning.
My nerves disappeared as soon our lips met.
We started dating and our families thought it was wonderful we were together.
We're hoping to start a family soon.
We want to change the stigma associated with addictions and mental health in Australia.
We're both proof that people can turn their lives around.
We had hard times, but without them we wouldn't be where we are today.
Love certainly works in mysterious ways.

read more from