Life was good. My two-year-old daughter Ayla was healthy and happy.
I loved kids and taught swimming classes. I’d also started my own cleaning company.
In fact, it ended up doing so well, I had to give up the swimming to focus on it.
Seeing the houses spotless and gleaming gave me so much joy.
There was just one thing that wasn’t going as well – my relationship.
We argued a lot and I felt like we were growing apart.
So one night, while Ayla played in the next room, we tried methamphetamine, also known as ice.
I’d never done it before, but I thought it might bring us closer together.
Just this once, I told myself, sucking on the pipe.
As we smiled and laughed together, I realised it was something we hadn’t done for a long time. Afterwards though, I felt so guilty. This wasn’t me – I was a loving mum and businesswoman.
But that ‘once’ was all that it took.
I started doing ice monthly, then every fortnight.
Before I knew it, I was planning my weekends around getting high.
At first, I’d started smoking it in a pipe, then I moved on to injecting.
It made me feel euphoric.
For a year, I lied to my family, asking them to babysit Ayla just so I could get high.
One night, I’d used everything I had, so I grabbed my car keys and headed to a dealer for more.
But high on drugs, I lost control on a bend and crashed into a ditch.
Pulling out my phone, I dialled the first person I knew would help.
‘I’m a mess!’ I wailed to my sister.
Confessing everything, I begged her to help me change.
‘I want to be a good mum,’ I cried.
‘We all make mistakes,’ she said, racing to my side.
She helped me tell my family and they got me into a fantastic rehab centre.
Going cold turkey, I cut all ties with my partner.
Once I was clean, I came out feeling like a new woman.
Ayla’s little face would light up when we played together, just like before.
‘It’s Mummy and Ayla against the world,’ I’d tell my beautiful girl.
Then, a year later, my phone vibrated with a Facebook message from an old friend.
Do you know anyone selling drugs? it read.
No, I’m not into that anymore, I replied.
More people got in touch though, inviting me to get high with them.
Staying strong and following my rehab program, I resisted the urge to fall back into my old lifestyle.
Until one night… I relapsed.
This time, my life spiralled out of control more quickly than I could have imagined.
My benefit money went straight to ice and I fell behind in my rent.
Soon, I was spending $800 a day and had to start selling the drug to fund my own habit.
With all my money going on drugs, I stole food from supermarkets, just to survive.
I had to use make-up to cover the track marks on my arms and scabs on my face.
Running into Ayla’s room one day, I started throwing her clothes and favourite teddies in a bag.
Then I called my mum.
‘You need to come and get Ayla,’ I cried. ‘I’m not good for her.’
‘Tamsin, you need to look at what you’re doing to everyone around you,’ Mum teared up.
As she drove off with Ayla, I ran into her room and buried my face in her clothes, muffling my screams and tears.
It was like a sober version of me was standing over my drug-fuelled body begging me to stop… but I didn’t know how.
Eventually, I was evicted, then I went to jail for six months for Centrelink fraud.
I was at rock bottom.
In movies, I’d seen little kids visiting their parents in prison and mentally judged them, telling myself I was better than them.
Now that storyline had become my reality.
‘I had so much fun at school yesterday,’ Ayla, then five, would tell me on her weekly visits.
My heart broke every time I said goodbye.
‘I will get clean, I will be the mother you deserve,’ I vowed.
When I was released from prison, my parents were waiting outside the gates with Ayla.
Running to her, I wrapped my arms around her.
‘I’m never letting you go again,’ I promised.
This time, I was determined to do things the right way.
After rehab, I deleted everyone from my old lifestyle on social media and moved to the suburbs far away.
‘I am so sorry,’ I told Ayla often.
Now three years clean, I have a job and my life revolves around my family, who were always there for me.
The best thing is being able to snuggle up with Ayla, now nine.
I spent tens of thousands of dollars over my years of addiction.
I want others to know there is hope and help out there. Every day without ice gets easier.
What I know for certain is I won’t touch the stuff again.
There are bad days in recovery, but a bad day always beats a good day in addiction.
For support with a drug addiction 24/7, call Lifeline 13 11 14 (Aus) or 1737 (NZ).