recovery works

For as long as I can remember I always felt lost in life.  I never really felt like I belonged anywhere.  I never really knew how to fit in or be “normal”.  I never knew what I wanted to do when I “grew up”.  I just felt lost.  I couldn’t imagine myself being a mother or a wife or having a career.  I just thought I would die before any of that happened or I would be on drugs forever working at Mc Donalds.  I literally had no idea what the fuck I was doing.  I always had this feeling like life had no real purpose.  People always fight over God or Science or whatever other theories there are surrounding life and it’s meaning, but, deep down I always believed that all of this is just coincidental and none of it matters.  For years I held onto this feeling and it had me spiraling into a deep depression which ultimately landed me into my addiction. I used drugs for many reasons and those reasons don’t even matter anymore…what matters is that I became an addict and my life has forever been changed because of it.

 

Being in recovery has led me to an understanding and belief that there is more to life that just coincidence.  I don’t know what that meaning or purpose is…but, I believe there is more.  Being in recovery helped me find my passion and my purpose.  I know in my heart that I belong working in this field.  I could never do anything other than this.  Every single day I think of ways I can help, things I can do…whether its raise awareness or work directly with addicts, I want to do it all.  I care so deeply about this.  Recovery works and it is an amazing thing to be in…to finally understand myself and know who I am and know my worth…and to know I have love and understanding and compassion to offer those who need it the most. I have found my place.  I have found my path.  I can get very emotional sometimes (OK more like A LOT of times) when I think about how I may have never known my purpose or known my potential had I not gotten into recovery.  I hate to think of all the people out there who may never know their worth due to their addiction.  All I want to do for the rest of my life is help those who need it.  I want to be there for anyone who feels alone or lost.  Recovery works and I am proof of that.

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I have two more training classes before I can take my test to get my Certified Recovery Specialist certification!  I also got an interview lined up for the job I want at the hospital assisting people who have come in from overdoses find the aftercare they need! Now all I need is to stop getting sick ALL THE DAMN TIME and life will be pretty swell.  I get my tonsils taken out next week and I am dreading it.  I am so scared of the pain and I am fearful that I’ll still continue to get sick after.  I don’t know what is wrong with me or why I keep getting sick all the time, but, I hope it doesn’t last forever.  I just want to feel like a normal person for once.

I will continue to update on my journey!  For any of you who have followed me from the beginning, thank you.  I hope to inspire others to continue pressing forward even when faced with difficult obstacles.  I know that I am strong…I know this because I have proven to myself that I am.  If no one else is proud of me, thats OK because I am proud of me.

My husband and I have struggled immensely since day one.  Our drug use and immaturity caused us to be horrible with funds and budgeting which caused us to accumulate debt.  Over and over again we failed to make payments on things like cable, insurance, rent, etc. because we needed the money for either drugs, food, etc.  We dug ourselves into such a hole that I honestly felt we would never be able to dig ourselves out of.  Neither of us went to college, and we were always working dead end jobs.  We have moved numerous times, and have yet to find any stability.  I am hoping that this year is our year.  I am going to school to become a CRS and Armand just got hired at a new job making “big boy money”.  We are going to work on our debt so that we can build our credit and hopefully buy a home in the future (or at least rent to own).  This is what recovery is….putting back the pieces of a shattered life.  We have to fix what was once thought to be destroyed beyond repair.  We have to look at the mess we made and clean it up little by little.  For the first time ever I finally feel like we are in the right direction…I finally feel like we have a chance.

just a thought

I was reading the Sunday newspaper and it had awful stories of child neglect due to opiate addiction here in P.A.  I am a former heroin addict, but, I was never an addict while also being a parent.  I would like to believe that I would NEVER put my child in a situation like that, but, I also thought I would never beg for money, steal, or use my body as payment for drugs.  The stories I read horrified me and had me crying at the dining room table.  One of the stories was of a 6 month old baby found in a hotel room.  The baby was on the floor in between the bed and the wall with a stroller propped up to keep the baby from getting out, and it was covered in urine and feces (I say “it” because I don’t remember if it was a boy or girl).  The room had used syringes, bags of heroin, and the mother passed out in the bathroom.  There were several other disturbing stories, including one with an 11 month old dying from neglect.

Reading these stories brought me great sadness.  Sadness for the children and also sadness for the addicts.  Most people will probably think “how the hell could you feel sorry for those monsters?”…and the answer is simple…because could have easily been one of those monsters.  The thing is, if you never lived with addiction then you really can’t comprehend how it could bring you to do such a thing.  Heroin makes you not care about anything or anyone other than itself.  It possesses you, grabs hold of your mind and spirit, and keeps you held captive.  Addicts are prisoners.  Nothing matters when you are high on heroin…you don’t care if you haven’t showered in days, it doesn’t matter if your house is a mess, and you will do ANYTHING to get it.  I feel so insanely blessed to have gotten out of my addiction when I did.  Things were bad for me, but, they could’ve gotten a lot worse.  My family could have buried me…or my son could have a mom addicted to drugs.  I look at my son and he is funny, active, sweet (and sometimes demanding), and loving…how different would he be if his mom was a heroin addict?  I feel like every day I need to appreciate the fact that I am not on drugs.  I don’t wake up and need to take a substance just to get out of bed.  I don’t have to go into shady parts of the city to buy drugs from drug dealers and worry if cops are following me.  I don’t have to worry about taking something and not knowing if it is laced with something that could kill me instantly.  I don’t have to worry about how I will get my next fix.  I don’t have to sell my stuff, or myself, to get a high.  I am alive!

I am so excited to start working with addicts and showing them firsthand that it is POSSIBLE.  I remember believing that I would never be free from addiction the same way I believe my name is Emily…this was how I was going to die, I was sure about that.  I was wrong!  I am so happy I was wrong!  The only thing is I didn’t have anybody but myself to pull myself out.  The rehabs failed me.  My husband was also an addict so he was unreliable.  My family knows nothing about addiction and has absolutely NO idea how hard it was.  My counselors at the methadone clinic tried to convince me to stay on methadone.  The suboxone doctor never switched anyone from methadone to suboxone, and never tapered anyone off suboxone….so I had to research it and do it all on my own.  It took me a long time, but, I fucking did it.  I just wish I had someone there rooting for me and helping me along the way.  I want to be for other addicts what I needed during my worst times.  When I felt so sick and depressed that I wanted to die, but, had no one to talk to…I will be that for those people in similar times.  I will show love, compassion, and I will not judge them.

 

I know I have had tendencies of starting stuff and not finishing it (like beauty school)…but, I got myself off drugs, and I will graduate and get my certification and I will make a fucking difference.  I will do everything I can to help those in need.

insecurities

I am (and have always been) insecure.  I hate it.  It is the one thing that keeps me held back.  I have constant negative thoughts.  If I am with a group of people I am usually too afraid to be myself.  I think it comes across as me being rude or stuck up, but, really I am just afraid of being rejected.  What if they don’t like me?  What if they don’t understand my sense of humor?  I can actually pinpoint the moment that these insecure thoughts started.  I used to be very open, goofy, fun, and never hid who I was.  I had two best friends who I hung out with constantly from grades 6-8.  I loved them and trusted them.  One of the girls was my friend since kindergarten.  When we got to high school I was excited and couldn’t wait to experience the last 4 years of school with them.  The one girl (who I was friends with since Kindergarten) apparently had other ideas. She shunned me, without any warning, created a group of friends which I was not allowed to be a part of, and essentially left me in the dust.  We were in a catholic school so it was small and most of the girls were friends with her and I felt alone.  I became insecure.  I felt like there was something wrong with me.  Maybe she thought I was weird.  Maybe she didn’t like my sense of humor.  The other girl and I stayed friends, but, she was a cheerleader and was also friends with the other girls.  I was too afraid to reach out to the other girls and to try to make friends.  I became bitter and antisocial.  I wasn’t invited to any parties.  I became anorexic and started to self harm.  I started to wear more makeup and the boys noticed me…this only pushed the girls farther away from me.  I had bad relationships with boys.  They only wanted one thing from me, and I only wanted friendship.  I didn’t know how to act around anyone.  Honestly, I just wanted to fit in..but, the more I wanted to fit in the more I stood out.  My mom was going through a lot and was taking it out on me.  I felt like a prisoner.  An outcast.  I hated being home and I hated being at school.  I turned to drugs to escape my reality.  I turned to drugs to quiet the negative thinking.  I turned to drugs to not feel so low anymore.  There is this saying, “I’m not addicted to drugs, I’m addicted to escaping reality”…that was me.  One of the worst moment was in the 11th grade on a 4 day trip.  We went on a “retreat” for 4 days where we were put into groups and had to open up to each other.  The girl was in my group.  We all had to go around the room and talk about our lives.  I was saved for last.  At the end of me spilling my guts, the nun (who was mediating the whole thing) turned to the girl and asked (in front of everyone) “Could you and Emily be friends again?”…and she looked at me and said sternly “No, I won’t be friends with her”.  I was so embarrassed and angry that the nun would even ask her that.  I was pissed at the girl for being such a bitch but also applauded her for being so blunt and honest.  I remember crying the entire night in my room and just wanted to go home.  After that I went into a really bad depression.  There was a lot going on in my life at the time and that was just the last thing that pushed me over the edge.  I didn’t want to live anymore, I didn’t feel like I had a single person to trust and rely on.  I didn’t believe in myself and I felt as though I didn’t belong anywhere.  I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to love me or care about me.  I mean, I didn’t even believe my own mother loved me.  All of that led to me wanting to kill myself, but, I was scared.  I was scared of dying, but, also hated living…it was a terrible place to be in.  I had no where to go.  I needed help.  I made a sorry attempt at killing myself,  but, really it was just a cry for attention.  I ended up going to a place for troubled teens where I met a boy who I fell in love with. We dated for several months.  I started smoking weed with him and my parents switched me to a new school my senior year.  My new school was hell on earth, I was bullied by the girls and because of that I skipped a lot of class.  I started using harder drugs with this girl I met there and started partying a lot.  I was just so lost and had absolutely no ambitions, no hopes, no dreams.  Everything I aspired to be in the past was lost and I was spiraling out of control.  I started having random hook ups and taking as many drugs as I could.  I dropped out of school (I got my diploma the following year).

 

Although I consider myself being free from addiction for 5 years, I was still on Methadone/Suboxone and didn’t really have to deal with strong emotions.  Now that I have been off for almost 6 months, all of these emotions are starting to come back.  I am ready to deal with them head on.  I am insecure still and definitely afraid of being rejected by people.  I get in my head a lot and sometimes I reach out to people and they don’t respond and it makes me feel low again….but, I have to soldier on.  I have to find my peace.  I have to gain confidence in myself and learn to love myself.  I can’t keep allowing other people to dictate my life.  I know I need to see a therapist.  I know I need to be honest with myself about how I feel and not try to keep it all inside.  I am a good person, I have a good heart.  I hate to see people suffering and I want to dedicate my time to helping people with addiction and mental illness, which is why I am going to school (which starts next week!).  I think helping others will also help me a lot.  Being able to give back is a great thing.  I am excited for the future.  I am excited to do something productive with my life. I am excited to show others that I am not a failure.  I am excited to find peace.

Addiction

September 28th I start classes to become a Certified Recovery Specialist.  I may have even gotten a scholarship so that I don’t have to pay for the classes (I find out in a few days).  I am very excited to have a career helping addicts to find their true potential.

I have been doing a ton of research on addiction and everything I have found is so alarming!!!   Addiction KILLS more people than diabetes, car accidents and cancer combined.  It is the number one cause of death for people under the age of 50.  Approximately 23.5 million people suffer from addiction, yet, only 11% of them receive treatment for it (and about only 5% actually stay clean).  The U.S. spends billions of dollars on addiction annually and yet the rates of overdoses and deaths rise year after year.  I know I am only one person, but, I plan on doing everything I can to change the way we treat addiction in this country.  The stigma that goes along with being an addict is deadly.  Most addicts also have underlying mental health issues that are untreated.  Addiction and mental health issues go hand in hand.  Before I became an addict I suffered (and still do) from multiple mental illnesses that were untreated and ignored.  Growing up I always felt depressed, alone, and like I didn’t fit in with anyone.  I also lacked self esteem and suffered from extreme negative thinking.  I suffered from anorexia and self harm.  My family life was also rough.  My mother also suffers from undiagnosed mental illness.  My family did not know how to deal with me.  I was suffering so much for so long and without any help or guidance from the adults around me.  It was almost inevitable that I would turn to self medicating.  I was told by teachers, counselors and peers that I was not smart enough to go to college, that I was not going to amount to anything.  I once had a teacher tell me she saw my future with me being “either locked up, on drugs, working at mc donalds, or dead”….I was in 5th grade.  I had NO faith in myself, and apparently neither did the people around me.  Maybe, just maybe, if ONE person would have told me I was worth something, that I could be SOMEONE…maybe I would have believed them.

I became addicted to drugs at an early age.  My brain wasn’t even done developing yet when I tried my first illegal drug at the age of 14 (cocaine).  I was unable to make rational decisions.  I was unable to see the full picture.  I had no one guiding me in the right direction.  I pulled myself out of my addiction…but, it was not easy.  I had many relapses before reaching this point.  Most people aren’t as lucky as me.  Addiction is an illness.  Addiction is not a crime.  Addiction is not failure.  We need to stop viewing addicts as such and start treating them as people suffering from a chronic disease.  We need to offer long term treatments with ongoing support even after relapses.  We need to stop shaming them.  Maybe if we had more support for addicts, more of them would seek help.  We need to monitor doctors and what they prescribe more closely.  We need to stop throwing addicts in jail, and instead put them in long term treatments.  I could go ON AND ON about this.  I promise to dedicate my life to doing what I can to help others fight this disease.  I promise to use my experience as a heroin addict to shed light onto others.  I promise to never ever give up on this fight!

5 months off suboxone

Well, I have made it 5 months (and 10 days?) off suboxone (10 months off Methadone, 5/6 years off heroin).  I am still experiencing PAWS (post acute withdrawal syndrome) but I have good days and bad days.  I have trouble sleeping some nights, I usually wake up still groggy and irritated, I always have loose bowels first thing in the morning, I still have a lack of mental clarity and feel lethargic throughout the day with bouts of energy here and there.  My immune system is still very shot, I get sick randomly at random times for days at a time.  I am still pushing through it, and I will continue to push through it until I am on the other side.  I start CRS training in 2 weeks (Certified Recovery Specialist) so that I can work in rehabs directly with addicts.  I feel as though I may be a little TOO compassionate (not sure if thats a good or bad thing)…all I want to do is hug people who are currently in addiction and show them love and compassion and show them that someone believes in them and doesnt judge them.  I know how hard it is to be an addict and to not have control over what you do for your drug of choice…I know how awful it is and how much shame one feels.  I want them to see that someone really does believe in them, and that I won’t stop believing in them even if they fail over and over again.  Hope is not lost for anyone.

 

I have come across addicts here and there, mostly people begging for money…I always try to offer advice and give them my number.  I would love to one day open my own rehab of some sort.  There needs to be a new technique.  I think in order for someone to get clean they have to find what works for them.  You can’t expect one specific way to work for everyone.  I personally don’t care for AA/NA..but, for some people it is what helps them remain clean.  You need to search yourself, find you inner strength and pull yourself out.  I want to be the person who shows people that strength.  I want to help pull that person out of themself…find that strength that I know is in every single one of us.  I know I cannot save people, but, I can help them save themselves.