Mental health and addiction unbeknownst to many go hand and hand. Many of us addicts have mental health disorders. The two go hand and hand, and that is ever so true in my story. Growing up I was different, but I never had any issues with my mental health. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to suffer from Bipolar Depression and Anxiety Disorder which ultimately led me to my fight with addiction.
When I was around 20-22 I started suffering with extreme anxiety. Most of my anxiety surrounded my sexual preference and me being homosexual. The coming out process just isn’t fair for people in my position(Non-Heterosexual). I couldn’t cope with anxiety and was prescribed benzodiazepine anxiety medications and sleep medications. This was my first glimpse into addiction. I didn’t realize in the beginning I had a problem; I had just noticed my bottles were running out before the fill date was due. Before I knew it I was stealing other family members anxiety and sleep medications.
Around the time I became addicted to these prescription medications I had ventured into the pill cabinet and found opiate pain killers. I never knew how addictive these were, at the time they weren’t all over the news like they are today. Big mistake. One was never enough, I just couldn’t get enough. One day when I was out of Oxy, a friend asked, you want to snort this? It was a line of heroin. I said yes, withdrawing from pain medications was the worst thing I had ever experienced and I just wanted the suffering to end.
All while this was going on I was suffering from depression and I eventually decided to seek help. Through seeking help I found out that this addiction, and what I was addicted too can actually affect the chemicals in my brain and make me more anxious and more depressed than I am when I’m not on them. I understood this, but how could I get clean? There was all this help out there, I realized this, but NONE of it could help me. I was unique, I was different, I was beyond help.
The journey to getting clean was not easy. As I said I was beyond help. I went to alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous. They weren’t exactly for me, though I do occasionally go to a meeting. Two rehab treatment centers weren’t enough to break my addiction. My parents were broke and had it, I was broken and was overdosing left and right. Survival for much longer wasn’t going to happen. After my last treatment center I relapsed the day after I got out, the day after that is my clean date. I was hospitalized and it devastated my family. They told me I was to be relocated 200 miles away to some loving relatives. This move was smart and bold. I had no money, no car, and most of all a new surrounding with no knowledge of the people and no chance of making connections to purchase “My Fix” from.
While with my family 200 miles away I thought to myself a lot. Deeply and philosophically I asked myself, “What am I here for?” My higher power, God and Jesus Christ told me, “You may not know, but it’s not for this.” It isn’t easy being clean, and being in rural America I found out can be quite boring from the hustle and bustle I’m used to in the big city. It, however, the moving got me clean. I have since moved back, and have been clean 3 and a half years. Staying out of the neighborhoods that I once made my deals is on the top of my to-do list. You may ask yourself, what does my story mean for you?
Whether you believe it or not you are somebody. You are somebody that deserves to be clean and or sober. Addiction is not easy, for the family or for oneself. Realizing you have an addiction is very hard. Knowing that a substance has a grasp on you and you are not in control of your life is debilitating. I felt in this entire world that I was different and that there was nothing in this entire universe that could help me. Don’t give up on yourself, I was proven wrong, that there actually was help out there for me. It was in the form of a family who refused to give up for me, and a merciful Lord who has let me live many times when I came so close to death and has helped me see that there is hope. You may fail Ten-Thousand times and succeed once, but that one success is still a success story.
One question everyone always asks: If you had the chance to do things over would you? No. The only way I would want the chance to do things over is if I knew the things then I know now. I am a better person due to all my struggles, and I struggle greatly, but it’s just my salt and pepper. I admire everyone that suffers with addiction, the recovering and the one who still suffers. Anyone who suffers with both mental illness and addiction I feel your pain, and everyday I wish that your struggles are eased and lifted off your shoulders.
To finish this off here is a poem I wrote in my darkest depths of my addiction
The sky is black, Yet the moon is shining
Still I know not what this Darkness is hiding
The street is wide, yet the path I’m on is narrow
There are no sounds to surround, not even a chirp of a Sparrow
My heart beats heavier as I stride down the walk
For I feel like a field mouse fearful of a hawk
The pace I stride speeds up, as a following shadow arises
What is this thing behind me it must be me it despises
Whether human, beast, demon, or at most it must be Death
I hope it is not my time, it’s much too early, to take my final breath
For a burden I may be, but this fear disappears
What is this eerie revenant, will it reappear
Life heaves curves, yet the path I am on stays straight
This creepy, eerie, menacing beast, it’s me it decides to hate
So again this fear is gone, I look behind with dread
Because the life, the living, the happiness, all of it is dead
Turning back, mere choice ’tis arbitrated, from this I will abstain
This new one way path is greater, from which I never will refrain
Behind me lies death and sorrow, and incredibly much hurt
Though with my whit and backbone about me it’s my life to assert
The path that lies far ahead, may have much death below
Though I assure you all far from death many seeds are sowed
From these seeds sprout beautiful roots
Foundations of our lives, from out the dirt it shoots
It grows tall by day, and sleep by night
No harm will come to me for I make myself alright
As I get older my roots grow deeper
My stem grows tall steeper and steeper
Soon I grow many branches, of which are my beliefs
But always remember from which I’m supported lies deeply underneath
The pavement once walked a far, turns to one deep and wide pasture
From the shadow that haunted me, I no longer need walk faster
From the seed I spoke, matures at a pace
Different from others, why, for we all live in the same place
I do not choose what drop of rain lands where
For it matters not, all and I will eventually get there
Over years the pastures turned to forests
Each one including I, live a life none sorest
Faith is not mere religion, but belief without sight
Like the oak tree drops acorns, eaten by squirrels, the tree show no strife
These acorns are children, siblings, and cousins
Though the squirrel that eats one life turns it into dozens
This circle of life, to many seems unfair
Though finally for once now and always, I will see no future despair
Earlier I spoke of faith and not religion
Just remember, each of you, we each are our own legend
Eventually we all will pass, out roots forever gone
For worry not we still have those seeds, we have now indefinitely sown