Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Addiction & Mental Illness: Part Three

...So I was back in my childhood home. I was nearly thirty-five years old and I had literally crawled back to my mother, tail between my legs, begging for help. I quit everything. Drugs, alcohol, and the myriad of psychiatric meds I had been abusing as well.

I had no idea how I was going to get my life back, but since I had already lost everything, I somehow managed to realise I no longer had anything to lose. It was the guilt and shame that had kept me using drugs so I had to somehow figure out how to leave it all behind me. So I put some blinders on and just kept clawing my way forward, inching my way out of the darkness, the emptiness. I found a job at a restaurant within walking distance doing whatever they asked. I still hadn't won back friends and frankly everyone acted weird around me, so I just spent time alone. I worked, I walked, and I meditated. My head was starting to clear.

As the fog slowly faded away from my existence, I realised I didn't know who I was. But for some reason this actually made me happy. I realised all the bad things I had done in the past weren't actually me. I had created many different fractured personalities to deal with what I couldn't. I wasn't a bad person. I was at the mercy of my illness back then. I was neutral. I had no idea who I was, but that was good because it meant I wasn't bad. I could choose who I wanted to be. And I chose to be happy and good.

It wasn't always easy. Some days were straight up impossible. I would have to literally will myself through every second of the day just to get through it. It was exhausting. But everyday got a little easier. And something amazing started to happen, I started to like myself. I had come to appreciate the little things in life. I appreciated my mother for helping me, my boss for giving me a job, my friends for giving me another chance yet again, and God for getting me through the darkness.

Now did the idea of using drugs again float through my head? On bad days, yes. I would think about how that first high would make the bad feelings go away. And then I would make myself think about all the bad things that followed and ask myself if that's what I really wanted. The answer was no. I had started to see a glimpse of myself and I realised I wasn't so bad after all. In fact, I was pretty freaking awesome!

I had been through hell. A hell I wouldn't wish upon anyone. Somehow I made it through. I had a chance to start over. A chance to discover who I really was deep inside. I made some decisions about what kind of person I wanted to be and have stuck to it ever since.

First, no guilt or shame. There was no room for that in my future so I left it in the past. I wasn't going to let my past define me. 

Second, be open and honest. This goes hand in hand with not being ashamed. If I'm honest with people about who I am, I don't have to keep secrets about my past.  Not everyone will accept my past, but I have and that's all that matters.

Third, be generous. If I am able to give to someone in need, I do. Simple.

Fourth, be kind. Even if someone isn't kind to me, I try to be mindful of what they might be going through that I don't know about. Maybe they need a little kindness.

Fifth, appreciate what I have. I lost all my possessions at one point. I learned what is important. When I have more than I need, I appreciate every bit of it.

Sixth, ask for help. Guess what? I can't do it all, so if I need help, I ask.

I hope my story helps others get through their nightmare. I hope that it helps knowing it is possible to not only get through hell, but to end up immensely happy on the other side. And I have no regrets. If I hadn't been through my hell, I wouldn't have found myself. It was part of my journey. It wasn't pretty, but it was part of who I am.

I am Kay and I'm pretty awesome! Just sayin...