'Meth just creeps up on you': Former registered nurse leaves dark past behind

A Mandurah woman's story of how she became addicted to arguably the most-destructive drug chillingly echoes the well-known saying 'it could happen to anyone'.

The Mandurah Mail is concluding our four-week Falling Through the Cracks series, where we examine the debilitating impact methamphetamine is having on our community.

Amanda Bowen, 33, was raised by a loving, supportive family and had a close group of friends growing up.

She followed her medical passion, graduating from Notre Dame University with a Bachelor of Nursing.

Amanda worked as a pharmacy assistant while she studied, before being employed at Rockingham Hospital, landing her dream role of helping patients as a mental health nurse.

Like many Australians, Amanda has been fortunate enough to travel across the globe, visiting popular tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum.

Photo: Carpe Manda Facebook page/Supplied.

Photo: Carpe Manda Facebook page/Supplied.

But, Amanda was hiding the emotional pain of two traumatic incidents that happened to her as a child and teenager, which she had not truly confronted - and played a critical role in her becoming addicted to meth.

Amanda said she was sexually abused at five-years-old and raped in Phuket by a taxi driver when she was aged 19.

Each incident had a lasting impact on her mental health.

"The incident in Phuket took four years to go through court," Amanda said.

"I went back after two years to testify and two years later they had a verdict - it was not guilty.

"They could prove I was with him, but couldn't prove he did it."

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Amanda said she started using meth socially after the incident, which continued into her 20s while she was studying at university, before the addiction took hold.

"My long-term relationship started struggling and I was going through some issues of my own," she said.

"Before I knew it - it was a problem."

Amanda said she began using daily at 25 years old, becoming a "functional addict".

"It just numbed things and everything felt okay," she said.

I was working at a pharmacist earlier this year, but was let go after they found out about my history.

Amanda Bowen

"I didn't realise it was that bad because I don't fit the typical mould of a meth user.

"I'm not violent and I've never had a psychotic episode.

"And as a mental health nurse, I'd seen worse.

"I thought of it as a temporary thing - I should have known better."

Amanda said her addiction went unnoticed by family and colleagues, until her psychologist notified her workplace.

"I lost my registration and obviously, it's still hard for me to accept," she said.

If this helps just one other person, then sharing my story and being deeply vulnerable, was worthwhile.

Amanda Bowen

Amanda said she had struggled to secure employment ever since.

"I was working at a pharmacist earlier this year, but was let go after they found out about my history," she said.

Amanda said her turning point was completing a five-week rehabilitation program in Queensland last year.

"Now that I've addressed my mental health issues, I don't feel the need to use anymore," she said.

Amanda said she hoped to go back to university and help others by becoming a social worker, but in the meantime, she would continue blogging her progress online.

"I have a website and Facebook page, where I write about my experiences with meth and mental health," she said.

"The feedback has been amazing and the page interaction and followers keep growing."

Amanda said anyone could become addicted to meth.

"It just creeps up on you," she said.

"I don't regret my experience because it has taught me a lot. It's obviously caused me a lot of pain.

"I am very lucky I have no long-term health consequences that I'm aware of.

"If this helps just one other person, then sharing my story and being deeply vulnerable was worthwhile."

To keep updated on Amanda's progress visit @carpemanda on Facebook.