WHEN her younger brother died, 16-year-old Emily Devaney turned to drink, drugs and self-harming to numb the pain.
She frequently found herself in hospital after cutting too deeply into an artery, and confesses that she did not care if she lived or died.
But today Emily is a changed woman, having found the perfect weapon with which to fight her demons – art.
The 20 year-old also has staff at Muir’s Supported Housing scheme on Panton Road, Chester, to thank for helping her turn her life around.
She said: “I simply wasn’t in control before I came to Panton Road. I was in complete denial about how much I was drinking. I genuinely didn’t care whether I lived or died - If I walked out the door and got hit by a car I would have probably kissed the driver.
“When I was drunk I also liked to hurt myself. There were times when I would end up in hospital because I had cut through arteries. I would come home with stitches and really mess myself up. My mind was so mixed up, there was so much going on and I didn’t know how to filter it out.
“Something really bad happened to me when I wasn’t in control, and that was a real wake up call for me. I started to use services like Aqua House and sought help from a counsellor. He was brilliant and as I got more acquainted with my own moods and my own routine with alcohol, slowly but surely I was able to cope without it.”
Emily has now been sober for five months and was encouraged by the staff at Panton Road to use her passion for art as part of her recovery.
She was hesitant at first and used to drink heavily when painting. Being a perfectionist, she was worried about showing her work to other people.
But with encouragement, Emily began to paint again and has gone on to achieve success, having sold several of her paintings and displaying others at an art gallery in the city.
She added: “As things have started to sell it has given me a reason to get up in the morning - there is a chance for me to thrive doing something that I love. I have the ability to succeed doing something I really enjoy and it’s a nice feeling.
“The staff at Panton Road have been amazing with me. They’ve had to put up with a lot since I’ve been here but they have been nothing but supportive. I’ve had a lot of time to think here and take stock of things around me and painting has really helped me in that department.”
Helena Dore, manager at Panton Road, said: “Emily is much more motivated now.
She has given us a few scares since she has been with us but it’s great to see her doing so well.
“Emily is a very talented artist and having her work on display has played an important part in her recovery. Emily is also volunteering at a local care home doing arts and crafts with the elderly residents and that has been really good for her as well. Everyone involved with Panton Road is very proud of how far Emily has come over the past year – she’s a real inspiration for other young people at the scheme.”
Emily added: “I want to continue painting and improve my mental health. I am recovering and the aim is to be healthy and happy. When I first came to Panton Road, I didn’t think that was going to happen. I’ve been here over a year now and I feel in control – things are now within my grasp.”
To view Emily’s art work visit her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Kruellalabelle-Art-and-Design/1656804071211266