A woman has shared her story of how she went from being a former alcoholic fighting depression to how she turned her life around to qualify as a doctor and it is every bit inspirational!
Jo Barton, from Sawbridgeworth, Essex, dropped out of school when she was just 14 years old. From then she spiraled into a deep pit of depression that led her into drinking every day and being the very epitome of troubled teenage hood.
She said, “We didn’t have my mum about as she was in the hospital being sectioned. 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.”
Jo revealed her mother suffered from bipolar disorder and was often in hospital and her father left them. This meant Jo and her sisters were often on their own which proved to be quite disastrous.
“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.” She said.
After that, Jo got another job in a care home in Broxbourne as the job required no previous experience. She loved it, and in time decided to study towards a career in care. Jo said, “You don’t really get support in college and I just got on with it. 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.” She added.
Jo got a GNVQ in care and got a job at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, where she was allowed to watch surgeries and became passionate about becoming a doctor. She found an access to medicine course but required maths and English GCSE’s so she had to do them through home learning. Once she completed her two GCSE’s she was accepted onto the course and moved to Norwich.
Jo then applied for a university to study medicine, but she was not accepted. Instead, she was accepted for a bio-medicine course, but didn’t feel it suited her at all, so she reapplied for a degree in medicine, and this time got accepted onto a six-year degree at St George’s Hospital in London, where she graduated from three years ago. She said, “I felt like I needed a better work-life balance so I decided to apply for GP training. I was working nights and I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life.”
Now, Jo, a former alcoholic and depressed teen, is a qualified doctor and wants to use her story to inspire others. She said, “I just want people to know that if you come from nothing there are options if you are willing to put the effort in. 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!”