Jayda’s Addiction Recovery
Caught in a terrible cycle of using ice, Jayda began to lose friendships, do things she’d regret, and cause herself physical harm. Then she completed a thirty-day residential rehabilitation program at the Hader Clinic Queensland. This is her story.
Warning: This story includes recollections around topics such as sexual assault, domestic violence, and physical violence. We acknowledge that this content may be difficult for some readers. If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or DV Connect on 1800 811 811.
My name is Jayda. However, I started life with a different name, Gilberte.
You’d think that having lived experience of addiction and being clean for twelve years would mean that you had any issues with drugs or alcohol nailed. Think again!
My story starts as a Lebanese kid, growing up as the eldest of five in what was a loving family home in Sydney. I started smoking ciggies when I was nine – it was culturally accepted and went well with our Lebanese coffee.
We went to Catholic private school and life was pretty good up until I was about 11. That was when my father’s best friend raped me. My father knew nothing of it, however my mother did, and rather than protect me, she slapped me and told me to remain silent.
In Year 11, I found a traineeship as a bookkeeper. This didn’t last long as I became a fashion model for labels like Kerry McGee and Charlie Brown. This industry is where I met my first husband, who was a fashion designer.
He was 17 years older than me, the same age as my mother. He also had a Lebanese-Syrian background and we started talking one evening after a show. When he found out I was Lebanese, he told me that he would go to my parents and ask for my hand in marriage, and that he no longer wanted me to work onstage.
I explained to him that I was working to help provide for my family and two days later I had a brand new Honda Prelude and $20,000 deposited into my bank account.
At the insistence of my mother, I reluctantly agreed to get married. I figured that this was an easier way to support my family, and how hard could it be? However, it was way harder than I thought. My mother in law even hung around outside our bridal suite to ensure that I was a virgin on my wedding night. Even thinking about what I had to do freaked me out.
Within a year of our wedding I had my first son. My husband was malicious and both physically and mentally abusive toward me.
One day my father said to me, “you cannot keep hiding the truth from me – surely there aren’t any more cupboards to run into at home – do you think I’m stupid?” I told my Dad the truth and he helped me to leave my toxic marriage. One day, I was driving my sisters somewhere and they asked me if I was “really, truly leaving” him. My response was, “of course, why?” They then disclosed to me that my ex husband would sexually assault them on the weekends when I was out doing the groceries as I would pick them up every Friday after school.
My world was shattered.
Eventually I got married to a Russian bloke who I’d been mates with for years. Being married to him produced another son, but things weren’t much better in this marriage either. I left him, as a Lebanese single mother of two – how was I going to provide for my family? I didn’t want to sell my Sydney properties because I couldn’t afford the mortgages, so I started a nail salon and had eleven Vietnamese workers helping me.
I also worked teaching belly dancing to Islamic women in a private hall. They used to tell me they loved taking their scarves off and being free – which I loved. I also worked as DJ. It was not enough to pay for everything including the boys’ Grammar school fees.
One evening I was at Kings Cross with a girlfriend, who was an exotic dancer at one of the nightclubs. I watched her dance and was also offered a job the same evening. How could I not take it when I could see how much money there was to be made?
This is where my problems with addiction started. I became hooked on cocaine, to the point where I couldn’t get enough up my nose in one hit. I taught myself to how cook it and then smoke it. I was smoking on average $5,000 a week of coke.
My eldest son was now living with his Dad and I was fearful about losing the other one.
I could not stop smoking.
On my son’s 4th birthday I took him to Hungry Jacks for a birthday party. His father picked him up and I thought at the time, he was going to be dropped back to me the same evening. Later I was smoking and realised that my son had not been dropped home. It was 1am. That was the last time I saw him. He was taken to Russia with his father. I then lost custody of my eldest son.
I got alopecia (hair loss) as a result of the stress of losing my children. My eyelashes turned grey. I didn’t recognise the person staring back at me in the mirror.
Somehow, I regained my strength and got clean. I legally changed my name to Jayda, moved to Queensland and stayed clean for twelve years. I worked in construction, for the same employer for most of those years.
Living drug free was a blessing, but my heart ached for my boys – and my Dad, who passed away five years ago.
A few months ago, I received a message request on Messenger. It said, “Are you my Mum? Love Jai”. I pretty much fell off my chair. I replied, “Yes,” and we texted back and forth that afternoon. Then he asked to do a video chat the following week and I agreed.
I don’t know why I gave him access to my bank accounts, but he pretty much cleaned them out, disappeared, and then blocked me on social media.
Then I discovered that my eldest son was abusing cocaine and had lost his contract with the Parramatta Eels.
My drug use escalated quickly. I quickly lost my job, my savings, my self respect. I did terrible things when I was smoking ice, which got splashed across the local newspaper. One day I had a pipe that was so hot that I burned myself. I begged my partner for help.
I went to the Hader Clinic Queensland for rehab. It was fantastic. I guess I went there with the right attitude. I was willing to learn, I was willing not to use any more.
I had not known about NA before I came into rehab and have done 114 meetings in 85 days. I realised that although I’d stayed clean, I did not have the resources to cope when things went wrong – this is where rehab has helped me so much.
Basically, I started at the beginning of the 12 Step program – yes, number one. I had to admit that I was powerless over my addiction. I was stubborn, and I was afraid.
The incident in the newspaper humiliated me. I remember one of the support workers, JJ, asking me, “Am I ready?”
Yes, I was. I have remained clean since leaving rehab and intend to keep it that way. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had to turn my life around thanks to the Hader Clinic Queensland.
My future is looking bright. I went back to work in construction. I have been very open about my story with my employe, and they have put their trust in me. I manage forty-five credit cards, accounts, and bank details.
Down the track, my partner and I would like to open our own rehab centre. Rehab saved my life and I hope to give back by helping others.
Queensland’s only private rehab centre with ACHS accreditation
We are proud to be the only private drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre in Queensland to be independantly accredited.