September is National Recovery Month! Talking about recovery is one of the most important things we can do to change the culture around receiving help. Check out Lacey’s story:
Recovery Is Worth It
I remember waking up from my third overdose in two months and thinking, “This is how I am going to die; I will always be an addict and will never be able to live a normal life.” Feeling hopeful was not something I had experienced in a long time. I used to identify myself as an addict and a disappointment. I believed in the judgment these words created. Today, I no longer identify with these hurtful terms. Thankfully, I have people in my life that did believe in me and never gave up hope that I could get better. I finally realized that I could not overcome this monster of a drug by myself and that it was time to finally be open and honest about who I was and get the help that I so desperately needed.
Growing up I never wanted to admit my shortcomings. I was in the top 3% of my senior class and took college classes throughout my junior and senior year. I graduated high school with my diploma and Associate’s Degree. I was on dance teams and was a first chair violinist all throughout my high school career. Needless to say, no one had any idea that I had to take drugs every day to even function.
By the time I was 15, I was fully addicted. My boyfriend at the time became addicted to the same drug and we began to engage in criminal activities together to fund our habit. I stole from my family, lied to everyone I knew, lost friends, got banned from pawn shops, and put myself into dangerous situations where I could have been seriously hurt. I didn’t realize at the time that I was self-medicating my mental illnesses. Six months after I started using my drug of choice, my parents knew something was going on with me so they took me to a child psychiatrist who diagnosed me with depression, ADHD, and anxiety. I was prescribed meds which I never took, and placed into a therapy program. Years later and many mental health facilities, doctors, and medications later, I was still addicted to this drug that ran my entire life. My depression and social anxiety worsened and became so debilitating that I was hopeless and couldn’t see a way out. I was exhausted from taking medication after medication only to not have it work. I couldn’t handle the feelings of guilt and disappointment, so I kept using.
After I overdosed for that third time, I knew I had to make a decision; I could either try this “recovery” thing again or continue using and never achieve the life I dreamed of growing up. I began listening to the doctors and therapists and doing as I was told. I went to support meetings, practiced yoga, ate healthier, and tried to take better care of my body and mind. Even on days when I felt like I wasn’t worth it, I pushed through and reminded myself that these feelings will pass and these negative thoughts will go away. But don’t think my recovery came easy; I relapsed more times than I can remember before achieving long-term sobriety. It took a year for me to feel like I did as a teenager before I used drugs six years prior, but it was so amazingly worth the wait. Don’t get me wrong, I still deal with my own challenges and struggles to this day but I don’t have to numb myself anymore to deal with them. I don’t live in a constant state of chaos 24/7, always wondering if this last high will be my final one.
Even though I have been in recovery for the past three years, there are some things that my drug abuse still effects to this day. By abusing my brain for so many years, I have trouble putting sentences together when I speak and my memory is not anything what it used to be, but this doesn’t upset me. Why? Because without going through my dark road, I would not be where I am today. I just moved to a beautiful city, Pittsburgh; I have a wonderful boyfriend who knows my past and loves me for who I am, and two fur-babies named Armani and Biggie. By having gone through my scarring experiences, I can help others that are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. I don’t regret a single thing in my life and can finally look myself in the mirror and know that I am worth it. Recovery is worth it. YOU are worth it.
(read more about Lacey in her upcoming biographical post!)
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