Former Alcoholic Turns Life Around To Qualify As A Doctor
A former alcoholic has managed to turn her life around and qualify as a doctor.
Jo Barton, 32, began her descent into alcoholism as a teenager, when her life spiralled out of control as a result of family problems.
"We didn't have my mum about as she was in the hospital being sectioned," she told Essex Live. "My teenage years are where it all went wrong really. I left school at 14, halfway through year 10, and I ended up skipping a lot and I wasn't living at home.
"I got into alcohol at an early age - about 13 - and I was drinking every single day. I think I was probably depressed but I didn't know it at the time. I turned to alcohol and then I began to rebel and that got me into lots of trouble as a teenager.
"I kept thinking I couldn't do that for my mum and I was quite depressed in Harlow."
Her mother suffered from bipolar disorder and was often hospitalised, while her father left the family. Jo and her sisters were often left to their own devices, with disastrous consequences.
She continued: "I think I wanted to start a new life because I had a reputation - it was either that or staying depressed.
"I got my first job at 17 at a restaurant in Great Dunmow. It only lasted four weeks because I was a really bad waitress. It was my first job, it was long hours, and they fired me after four weeks."
Jo began working in a care home in Broxbourne, close to her home in Sawbridgeworth, as the job required no previous experience. She enjoyed it, and eventually decided to study towards a career in care.
"You don't really get support in college and I just got on with it," said Jo.
"I had about one meal a day and that's effectively how I survived. There were lots of times I wanted to quit but if I did that then I would have got nothing.
"My final year was a very tough year for me. My mum had been well for a few years but she got taken off of tablets and she got sectioned again. I was commuting each way trying to visit my mum but also studying for my final exams."
Jo got a GNVQ in care and moved on to a job at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, where she was allowed to watch surgeries and became passionate about becoming a doctor.
"I felt like I needed a better work-life balance so I decided to apply for GP training," said Jo. "I was working nights and I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life."
Now, she has qualified as a doctor and wants to use her example to inspire others.
"I just want people to know that if you come from nothing there are options if you are willing to put the effort in," she explains.
"It's just staying focused and staying in education. It was a struggle and I am not going to tell anyone it is easy - I used to study for my exams on the Central Line!"
"It's the way that you think about it. Always, what was in my head was, 'If I don't do this then it's all gone and I am back to square one. If I give up then I am going to be left with nothing.'
"If I had a normal life, and I went to school, I don't know what I would be doing now. I kind of found medicine and I don't think I would have found it if I had a normal life.
"I am quite good with depressed patients and that's because of my past. I am not your average doctor, as I'm quite common, and I think that helps. I just hope that other people can see it the way I thought it was."
Featured Image Credit: Essex Live