By Victoria Prendergast All Rights Reserved ©



How many times can you be knocked down and get back up again? Could you imagine trying to commit suicide on Christmas Eve with your infant daughter tucked up in bed waiting for santa? What if everytime you tried to get out of the rut, someone else was there to slap you down? Victoria Prendergast went through all this and after finding her feet in the British Army, months of drug abuse and bouts of severe depression, she managed to wade through the hurt and pain to fight another day. THE ARMY, DEPRESSION, DRUGS AND ME looks at the real life experiences of a downtrodden daughter growing up on the streets of Inverness becoming an excited mother in the northern City of Wakefield and finally to the coming of age in the British Army. Her late teens were spent dodging drug dealers and lending money to pay for that one hit on Friday night. The Monday morning blues that led to spiralling debt and depression that would nearly lead to suicide and finally the joy of being accepted by the Army but then having to give it all up after finding love.


I was ready to die.

I wanted to die.

It was Christmas Eve – there were presents under the tree in the living room and my little girl Abi was asleep in her bedroom upstairs, but it didn’t matter.

None of it mattered anymore.

In the semi-dark of the living room, lit only by the sparkling lights of the tree, I took my little girl’s school tie and wrapped it around my arm, the sound of Jon Bon Jovi singing softly in the background.

Hey man I’m alive, I’m takin’ each day and night at a time

I’m feelin’ like a Monday but someday I’ll be Saturday night

I’d woken up that morning like every other morning. I was sick. I had taken so many drugs the day before that I’d woken up and vomited. This had become a regular occurrence.

I had borrowed money to fund Abi’s Christmas presents. I got credit from a catalogue lady; you know, those who sell vouchers for the high street stores but on high interest credit. I’d also got a door step loan. I think in total I had borrowed £500, but for that pleasure I now owed over £2500 with its interest and the time it would take for me to pay it off. With that debt – along with my Council tax arrears, my gas and electric arrears, my water bill arrears, my Sky having been cut off along with my phone line because that was also in arrears, my red letter bills from previous lenders, and also my ever-increasing drug bills – my debts had mounted up enormously.

It was time to be honest – I now owed over fifteen thousand pounds.

And while the council might understand, I knew the drug dealers most definitely would not.

How the hell had I gotten so bad?

I just couldn’t see a way out. I tried to paint a smile on my face for Abi’s sake but that night when she’d gone to bed I’d hit the bottle bad and I’d sobbed uncontrollably.

I’d then contacted a different drug dealer – one I didn’t owe any money to, and who I actually considered to be a friend. This time when I spoke to this person I’d asked if I could have 5 bags of heroin and a needle. Within an hour the doorbell rang and my order was ready. My drug dealer had come in for a little while and was asking why I was changing my order (he knew I only ever had cocaine from the other dealer) and he’d asked if I was sure about what I was doing. I’d explained I had never injected before and I wasn’t sure how to do it, so he’d taught me the basics. We spoke for an hour but strangely this was the first time payment was not even mentioned. I think the dealer knew deep down what I was about to do and so it wasn’t brought up. With that he’d left, leaving me alone once more.

I hadn’t even bothered taking my stolen turkey out the freezer. What the hell was the point? I knew Abi was going at lunch time on Christmas Day to her Dad’s and that meant I would be spending most of Christmas alone. Wow, great fun. Depressed and alone on Christmas Day, how perfect. The thought was too much to bear.

I couldn’t even watch TV on the run-up to Christmas because every single advert was full of happy families around a big dinner table happily singing Christmas songs whilst tucking into a feast. Me, well I didn’t even have a proper table – I’d sold my good one to buy drugs.

I’d written Abi a goodbye letter. I knew the past few months I had been a horrendous Mummy and I knew she deserved better. I knew deep down she needed to live with her Dad but giving her up full time would have killed me. In my letter I explained how much I loved her and since the day she was born all I had done was fight to survive but I no longer had it in me. I was sorry for being a let-down but I knew I could do a better job watching over her from afar. I had pushed the letter under her pillow and kissed her on the head, then watched her sleep for a few minutes. I hadn’t been able to stay longer – the pain was killing me. I needed it over. So with that, I’d closed her bedroom door and headed down the stairs.

And now I was on the couch, her tie around my arm, waiting for the heroin to come to the boil.

Finally, it was ready, and I turned off the Christmas lights. I didn’t want to see them anymore; there was no sparkle left.

I drew the heroin up into the syringe, watching in fascination as the fluid that would soon kill me filled the plastic vacuum.

I pulled the school tie tight around my arm and hunted for a vein. There was no need to disinfect anything; I wouldn’t be alive long enough to suffer from infection.

I found a vein, Bon Jovi still ringing in my ears.

And Tuesday just might go my way

It can’t get worse than yesterday

Thursdays, Fridays ain’t been kind

But somehow I’ll survive

I clutched a family photo to my chest with my left hand, the needle held in my right as tears ran freely down my cheeks.

Goodbye Abi.

I put the needle to my vein and pierced the skin, the sudden stab of pain making everything so clear, so real.

And – with no other way out – I started to press down hard on the syringe and inject the heroin into my bloodstream.

How had I arrived at that fateful point in my life?

What had led up to that terrible Christmas Eve?

That is my story, one that I hope you will find interesting but that I hope you never have to live through yourself.

If it can be, let my story act as a warning – and, in its own way – as an inspiration.

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