Horror motorbike crash sparked teen's downward spiral
WHEN Jonathan was 16, he was involved in a horrific motorbike crash that left him with a broken back.
"I thought I'd never walk again and have a life of pain," he said.
After major surgery and rehabilitation, he was able to walk, but he suffered extreme anxiety.
"I was so anxious I couldn't even go into a supermarket," he said.
"I was unsteady around people and depressed."
He'd never taken drugs before, but Jonathan started going to doof parties, where he took ecstasy and MDMA.
It was the start of a downward spiral - he was expelled from school and took a job delivering pizzas.
But then the pizza shop went bankrupt, and Jonathan lost his job.
He was unemployed and aimless.
He smoked pot every day, saying it helped to ease the loneliness.
Jonathan's life changed dramatically after he tested positive for cannabis in a police drug test and lost his licence.
He started taking part in The Buttery's b.well program, which is funded by the North Coast Primary Health Network for people who may have substance misuse and mental health issues.
His counsellor Amanda Hewitt was the key to his recovery.
"I'd been to a psychologist before and I didn't relate to him at all with his nice clothes and the way he talked," Jonathan said.
"With Amanda it was different. She really understands what it's like to feel extremely anxious and to have issues with drugs.
"Amanda has taught me how to understand the triggers for anxiety and how to practise mindfulness and other techniques.
"Amanda taught me how to start my day. She suggested I buy some joggers and start walking for regular exercise. She told me to stop thinking about my troubles, get a routine, go out for a walk and eat healthily.
"Words can't describe how good she's been for me.
"She makes me believe in myself and gives me practical advice on how to lead a better life."
Now 22, Jonathan has left the North Coast to start a new life in Melbourne.
Recently he reported that he was happy, working at a job he liked, getting fit and hanging out with a new network of friends.
He's optimistic about his future and is considering further study to become a counsellor so he can help other people.
The b.well program is free and confidential and people of all ages can self-refer. For details of current groups contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6687 1658.