Although my parents did the best they knew how, I learned at a very young age that Its not okay to be who I am. To express myself meant shaming, belittling, anger and hostility. It was quite confusing - I still don't understand why affection was always held from me but not my younger brother. u00a0 Throughout the years, I did everything I could to win over my parents and nothing changed. I did well in school, I worked part time, I graduated- moved out on my own. When my children were born, I got married. When my husband died- I got a university degree, I landed great jobs in the community, I made good money, raised two, well-adjusted children on my own and I have a very large social circle of close, loving friendships. I did all of this on my own- never asked for help as I thought being independent was a good thing.u00a0 After my brother died of a drug overdose, the relationship with my family became so hurtful and unhealthy and we have now been estranged for many years.u00a0
What my family and many of my friends did not know was the double life I had always been living. Since I was young, every free minute outside of my responsibilities I was drinking, using drugs, using people, using anything external to get outside of my busy, overactive brain.u00a0 My solution to every feeling that I felt was to have a drink or do drugs, or both. Bored-drink, insecure- drink beer. Happy- get wasted, stressed- smoke joints, anxious-hard alcohol, excited- blow, booze. Every social situation, funerals, weddings, birthday, holidays, Fridays, Saturdays.....eventually all of my friendships, hobbies, interests all revolved around drinking and drug use.u00a0
Throughout the past 18 years there were constant attempts at moderating, exploring other interests, counselling, journaling, reading books on self-growth, psychology and addiction courses, wellness courses, fitness challenges, diets, travel retreats, hanging out with nondrinkers and pretending to be interested. Nothing was exciting or felt right without drugs and alcohol taking me to the next level.u00a0u00a0u00a0
I was so incredibly sick and tired- exhausted and disgusted with who I was as a person. I felt so lost, so confused and couldn't understand why I hurt so many people and set myself back every time I was left to my own devices. Why did I hate myself so much?u00a0 My soul was screaming. My brain was fried.u00a0 I wanted more u2013 I knew there was more out there for me and I just couldn't seem to get it. In May 2018 I realized that I couldn't do this alone anymore. I asked for help. Since then my relationships are meaningful- healthy. My life has grown immensely. I am comfortable and proud of who I am.
If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.
"In 2018 I tried to kill myself. I can count on one hand the amount of people I've ever said that to, and I can promise you that I've never shared that with anyone while I was sober. It wasn't the first time I had thought about suicide and in fact I had thought it out over time. I had invested a lot of time into thoughts of why it needed to be done, how it needed to be done and had ultimately convinced myself that it was for the benefit of enough people that it was worth it.
One failed relationship after another largely in part to substance abuse and lack of self-care. I was acutely aware of the pain I had caused people so much so that I became unaware of just how much pain I was experiencing myself until it became too late.
To this day I don't know what prompted me to make a call to Edmonton from Halifax. I remember the call clearly though. JM is a dear friend of mine that I have always felt comfortable being vulnerable around. I still think about the things I said and the damage it caused to our friendship that day, but when she hung up the phone with me and called the RCMP I think she saved my life. If you're reading this I'm sorry and thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so lucky to be able to share this message with anyone who wants to read it and without her it wouldn't be possible.
It took some time after that day to fully realize what I had narrowly avoided, and to be able to share my emotions with people who I didn't realize cared so much. They told me they did, but I didn't really realize it until I saw the look on their face when I told them. Its one of the great tragedies of my life that I doubted how much my close friends cared about me so much that I had to knock on death's door to see it for what it was. To them, I am also sorry, but owe them a great deal of thanks for helping me heal.
I had spent most of my life looking for some way to forget about the fact that I had grown up poor with very few friends. I was an outcast and over time learned to hate the world around me. This eventually turned in to anger toward everyone; my parents, the people around me, society. I thought what I needed was to be numb to it all. Rather than focusing my energy on resolving these thoughts I turned to alcohol and drugs to temporarily forget about them. What I didn't expect was that not processing these issues only brought them back stronger and more frequently when I wasn't under the influence. The more I used, the less I had to think about it. Concurrently though, more problems were popping up in my life. I wasn't paying my bills, I was being unfaithful and hurtful to my partners, I lost jobs, I lost friends and got a DUI. I didn't have an off switch anymore. I was so lost I didn't even remember where it all began anymore. Eventually over time I became depressed and lost my will to live.
Things began to change for me while I was in the military. I was still a functioning alcoholic and was dabbling in other things. This would ultimately lead to me getting out of the military but not before witnessing some life changing events. Watching my close friends who I often refer to as my brothers and sisters come home from overseas struggling to cope with depression and PTSD I began to look at ways I could help.
I left this career path and turned my focus to oil and gas where I've been lucky enough to find a great deal of success. I've spent the last eleven years on this journey in oil only to find myself still unfulfilled, and still struggling with addiction. Still constantly trying to repair the damages I have done to my once happy relationship with my partner who, for some reason, sees the good in me still and has come back to me time and time again, even though I push her away. She is my rock and I find inspiration through her daily.
Trying to kill myself was the most terrifying moment of my life, but it has taught me several things:
- I am loved
- I am not alone
- It is not worth it
Perhaps this isn't so much my story as it is my message, and my acknowledgement of the people that have helped and continue to help me along the way. You are not alone u2013 it is okay to need help sometimes."
If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.
"I feel like throughout my 35 years of life, I cannot remember a time I wasn't struggling with mental health issues. It goes as far back as I can remember and started when I was diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy. But I didn't have the seizures you think of when you hear the word epilepsy. I had what are called absence seizures. It would look like I was staring off into space and I wouldn't hear anything around me for short periods of time, usually less than a minute. These seizures, along with the medications I took, made it hard for me to learn in school. I had to study extra hard to retain information and I distinctly remember that before I left elementary school I felt like I had an extremely low IQ. I was so convinced that I was stupid, that I begged my parents to give me an IQ test. They obliged and it was only after taking this test that I saw proof that made me believe I wasn't stupid.
After elementary, I had grown out of my juvenile epilepsy but was then medicated for ADD as I had a very hard time concentrating in school. The medication definitely helped in my concentration and I continued to use it for a good 10 years. By the time I was in University, I was abusing my medication because I would frequently want to pull all-nighters as I was also dealing with depression at this time.
Shortly after university, I stopped all my medication and it was at that time that I began noticing my intrusive thoughts more. These were the thoughts that would just randomly pop into my head and become stuck on repeat. But mine seemed different. They were always violent and disturbing. And I didn't dare tell anyone as I didn't want to be judged. I already had people in my life at the time that didn't believe I was depressed, so how would they have believed I was experiencing this. I don't want to go into too much detail about the nature of my intrusive thoughts, as they really are violent, but I feel that it might benefit someone out there to know that they are not alone if they have the same kinds of thoughts. My thoughts have always been about me bringing some kind of harm to those around me, particularly any animals that would be in my presence, such as family pets.
Finally, about 13 years ago, I told my family doctor what I was experiencing and she referred me to a psychiatrist. It turns out, other people have these intrusive thoughts too and they never act on them. I finally found out that I experience these thoughts because of OCD. Not the compulsive kind of OCD that would make a person check the door lock repeatedly, but the obsessive kind of OCD where a thought will come into my head and replay over and over and won't stop. I found a lot of comfort knowing that other people experienced what I was going through.
Fast forward to 7 years ago when I was in a serious relationship with someone who I thought I would be able to share my struggles with. I had expected to be met with compassion and understanding but instead, my partner was afraid that I would hurt our future children. For reasons beyond the obvious, this relationship didn't last.
Five years ago, I met my now husband. When I finally told him about my intrusive thoughts, I was met with the compassion and understanding I had always hoped for. That feeling of non-judgement lead me to open up to my close circle of friends about my thoughts. Again, no judgement. I was amazed at how accepting and loving these people were after I would reveal my struggles, especially since I had once thought it was such an ugly secret that no one would ever accept.
When my husband and I became pregnant 3 years ago, I knew that my intrusive thoughts would involve my children. It was a sad reality to know that once my baby was born I would begin having violent thoughts about them. I say this because it might be someone else's reality as well. I understand how disturbing it can be. It became really draining after I had my second child. Now I had two children I had intrusive thoughts about over a dozen times per day. When my youngest was 5 months old, I finally knew I needed to get help when I was starting to logically plan my suicide. I had dealt with violent thoughts for so long that I became so used to them. But when they started to become about me, I knew something wasn't right. Little did I know that I was actually suffering from post-partum depression. I always heard that post-partum depression was when you had thoughts about hurting your newborn. But since I already experienced this multiple times a day, I didn't even realize I was suffering from this depression.
Once I recovered from my post-partum depression, I decided that I no longer had the energy to deal with multiple violent thoughts about my children every day. My doctor and I came up with a treatment plan to manage my intrusive thoughts. For almost one year now, I have experienced minimal to no intrusive thoughts each day. It's really freeing and the violence in my mind is finally quiet. I know that this condition will be a lifelong one, but I thankfully now know that I can choose how loud these thoughts are. If you were to tell me 13 years ago that there would be a way I could live without these disturbing thoughts, I wouldn't have believed it. I suppose that's what has compelled me to tell my story. It really makes me believe that there is no situation too difficult to overcome."
If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.
This day-long event was intended to help our community frame a pathway forward in healing through messages of HOPE.
We heard from a wide variety of individuals from various backgrounds. Watch videos from the day below.
Our Collective Journey is a peer support group formed in Medicine Hat that encourages individuals experiencing mental health and addiction issues to step out from behind the heavy curtain of shame.
Two of the founders, Ryan Oscar and Rick Armstrong have both experienced their own personal darkness and share stories of how they moved through that darkness and into a new light.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness and addiction disorders.
Join Breanne Mellen our Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Allysa Larmor our Suicide Prevention Educator as they walk us through "Don't Just Survive, THRIVE." This is a presentation on how to overcome the challenges and disappointments that are an unavoidable part of life and get back to being the creator of your life.
To complete our first Framing a Pathway Forward event, the team wraps up what they have discussed over the day, and talks about what is coming up moving forward.
There are two ways we can approach recovery: by simply complying with what is being asked of us, or surrendering our power. In our experience, individuals who surrender have much more success staying in continuous recovery. Let's look at the differences:
The word compliance entails obeying what others are telling us to do. When we're complying, we may not even want to do what others are asking of us. Many people will comply with the wishes of their friends, loved ones, or even the legal system by going to treatment. I was one of them. However, I didn't have a true desire to recover from my addiction, I still thought I would be able to control it. We know that a person must want to recover in order to to have a solid chance at an alternate, healthy life.
Complying with treatment was just a temporary solution to satisfy others. In order to begin recovery through whatever method is selected (residential treatment, therapy, 12 Step program, etc.) it's rarely enough to simply comply. Instead, a person must surrender.
Surrendering, on the other hand, happens when we realize there is no exit plan, no easier, softer way. In my experience, I explored every other way and MY best thinking took me to suicide, the ICU, and a psychiatric ward. Twice. Committing to recovery was the only way to begin truly living a happy, fulfilled life without substance. I recognized that I could no longer continue fighting, hiding, and resisting. I realized I couldn't do this all on my own and I become open minded to something else guiding me. Something greater than myself.
When we surrendered, we took our ego u2013 one of the very things that got us into this situation in the first place u2013 out of the picture.
Nothing good can come of letting our egos control our thoughts and behaviours. When we are humble and let go of our ego, it allows us to accept our lives the way they are in this moment. Totally present. We accept that we are where we are and that's okay. We begin to realize all we can control is our own thoughts and behaviours.
Once I was able to fully surrender, I could start my recovery journey.
If you or someone you know is struggling with this, please reach out to OCJ. We can help explore options with you. You are not alone.
I absolutely had no idea that my drinking was a problem. I drank like most of the people around me. I thought it was normal. Enter drugs. Back in my using days, I didn't have a drug "problem." Instead, I had a drug "solution." Drugs were how I coped. And when you took those drugs away from me, that's when I had problems. Serious problems.
Whatever pain I had, whatever feelings of discord, whatever trauma and issues I was hiding, running from, or treating for years... they were all exposed when you took the drugs away.
When I actually left the substance alone u2014 whether I had sworn it off or been removed from it u2014 I didn't react the way I thought I would. I did not feel "normal." In fact, I felt the exact opposite. Life was overwhelmingly unmanageable.u00a0
Recovery isn't just about putting an end to something. Things don't just become glorious.u00a0
Let's look at the definition of recovery:
1. a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
Based on my experience, the second definition is more accurate when it pertains to this topic. In order to "regain possession or control of something stolen or lost" (or given away) I must find it. In the early days of "recovery", I could barely see the light through the fog! What I did know was that I was hurt, broken, lost and trying to find a new way. In other words...trying to find a new solution.u00a0
Without a new, concrete solution to start building my foundation on, I knew I was going to eventually crumble again. By looking at what was actually lost... my fundamental needs (physical, mental, and spiritual) I was able to begin the journey into recovery. It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but here is what I filled those fundamental needs with.
Physical: medical detox and psychiatric ward, exercise and healthy eating have been critical for me
Mental: in-patient treatment, anti-depressants, counselling, 12-Step program
Spiritual: A higher power. My best thinking took me to rock bottom. I needed something greater than myself to believe in. At first it was the universe and nature. Now I have God.u00a0
Everyone's path to addiction is different, just like everyone's journey into recovery will be different. This is what worked for me. There is no better day than today. The longer we continue using the "old solution", the worse things become and... brace yourself... we will likely die.
There is a way.
There is hope.
Please reach out and someone from OCJ will be there to help you find your new solution.
We received this feedback after a listener explored Podcast Episode 12 of From Darkness to Life. After obtaining his consent, we wanted to share it. His feedback illustrates the power of shared experience. By these brave gentleman sharing their experience, it opened the door for someone else to share their own story.
Thank you for giving hope to the next person...
"Just finished listening to your last podcast Coping with Suicide and it really hit home for me. Being best friends with Nolan and Intek almost my whole life it was amazing to hear them open up about their journey and how they were able to cope with the loss of a loved one. Being so close with both of them, it was crazy to me how much I didn't know what they were going through. I was able to feel more connection through their stories than I thought I would. We all go through a big journey when we lose a loved one. Everyone copes with it a little bit differently.
When Mase passed away it took me a few days before it actually affected me.. I was living in Columbia, Missouri with my teammates that I only met around 6 months ago. I will never forget the initial call that I got from Rattai. It gives me chills and major emotions every time I talk about it or even tying this message. He was in Kentucky at the time and we talked a lot, mostly about baseball as we were both playing college ball at the time. But I was playing fortnite with roommates when he called me around 10:30. I answered the call and I straight up could not figure out whether he was laughing or crying (this is the first time I've ever heard Rat cry). He didn't say a word for about a minute which was when I could obviously sense something was wrong. He finally got around to telling me that Mase had passed away. All I remember saying is "what?" "What do you mean". Like it was so shocking to me that I wouldn't accept what he was telling me. We talked on the phone for about 30 minutes after just wondering where to go next. It was the hardest phone call I've had in my life..
The next couple of days it still didn't seem real I guess? I think it was because I was away from my family of friends so it didn't seem like it changed that much. Me and Mase were very close but we didn't text or Snapchat back and forth everyday. We would check in on each other a couple times a month but we always hung out in our friend group all the time during the summer when I was back or on Christmas breaks. So it really didn't hit me that he was gone until I flew home for his funeral. Seeing the boys and our group was amazing but everyone knew a piece was missing. And this is when it hit the hardest and still hits the hardest to this day. Just knowing he should be here and he's not.
There's so many memories flowing through me right now and that is what was so great about listening to your podcast. Listening to my best friends talk about how they got through it just reminds me about how I got through it. Sure, it still hurts to this day and I don't think that there will be a day that goes by it won't. But being around my friends and being with each other 100% helped the most. The year after he passed Rattai actually came to my school to play with me and we lived together which helped us cope through the struggle as we had each other to lean on and push through. I'm so happy we were able to do that because having Rat with me may have changed a dangerous outcome if I went back to school alone again.
So I just want to thank you guys for what you're doing for not only this community of Medicine Hat but for whoever around the world that listens to you guys. The thing I love most in your podcasts is there's no judgement and everyone comes in open minded and ready to speak about things that others are scared to talk about. This creates a norm that is neglected by most of society at this time. So once again, thank you for all that you guys do and for all the lives you have changed and/or saved."
"Thirteen, thirteen is when it started; thirteen is when I got drunk for the first time, thirteen is when I smoked my first joint, thirteen is when I started engaging in criminal activity, and it was 13 when I first thought about suicide. Like the chicken and the egg, I am not sure what came first. Did I use to ease an unwell mind, or did my extensive use cause the mental anguish? My mother and father had a very unique relationship; I never once seen them show each other any sort of affection, yet here I am. We are all miracles.
Once I started drinking and using nothing else mattered. The world took on an edginess not quite hostile yet not at all inviting in terms of the mainstream, and it was around that time that I developed this idea that it was every man for himself, and I probably will not live to see 40. I found a group of friends that were a lot like me, and one by one we all stopped going to school and spent our days roaming the streets of Toronto stealing, drinking, and experimenting with various psychedelics and solvents. We used to hang out on the rooftop of a 20 story building in the north end of Malvern, the neighbourhood I grew up in. One day I went up there to find Jeff, Mike, and Jason sniffing glue the dirty plastic bags expanding and retracting with each breath. Jeff decided he had enough, so he got up said his goodbyes and started walking off the roof as if he was walking down a path. We were able to tackle him away from the edge and get him home, and eventually he was admitted into the psych ward at the hospital.
When I was 15 two things happened. I went to jail for the first time, and I went through major surgery at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital were I was introduced to morphine. One thing that sticks out to me from those days is that I never felt like I fit into my family. I knew they loved me, and they were good people, but I felt I could never tell them about the sexual abuse from my cousin and neighbour, or the abuse my sister went through from my uncle. We never talked about our issues and as a matter of fact it was important to my mom for us to appear functional and okay especially when we were around the extended family. I also hated feeling anything except what I got from substances and the artificial bonds we formed through our common aspirations of getting f***ed up. There were times when I was alone and sober and feeling as if I do not belong in this world, yet I was to afraid take my own life. I just wished the world would end. I spent the next couple of years losing jobs and going to jail. Twice I was put on suicide watch while I was in jail because I refused to eat, yet never once did I acknowledge to anyone the sadness, emptiness and hopelessness I felt inside. I eventually went to Vancouver in an attempt to escape, but like the saying goes "everywhere I go there I am." My drug use got worse once I got introduced to heroin and cocaine, and as a result; I went back to Toronto with an opiate addiction I carried with me for ten years.
I came to Medicine Hat in May 2001. By the end of the year I had spent 3 months in the remand centre and 1 month on the psych ward. By 2002 the woman I was seeing was pregnant with my first daughter, so we got married and I went back to school. By the time my second daughter was born I had another criminal charge and my marriage had fallen apart. I started using crack cocaine and got into a relationship that ended with a suicide attempt and another trip to the psych ward. It just kept on and on. I would lose everything feel hopeless fight my way through the darkness build up my life then lose it all again. This went on for years. I was not really allowed to see my kids and even if I could I was selfish to the core. All I could think about was escaping, running, hiding from it all.
One night after being awake for about a week straight I heard this voice say "You need to kill yourself. You need to end it. There is no point anymore" This voice was quite persistent, and very convincing, but there was another voice that said "You just need some sleep just go to the hospital and get some Valium." So of course I listened to the voice that was telling me to go to the hospital and get more drugs. I showed up in emerg and put on my most sincere persona the one I usually reserved for when I was begging family and friends for money and told the nurse I have been up all week smoking crack and now I want to go to sleep, and I was wondering if I could get Valium or something. The doctor and social worker gave me a choice either go home and die or go to detox. I chose detox and from there I chose treatment and from there I choose recovery.
Recovery changed everything. It showed me that it is not every man for himself that we are in this together, it taught me there was a way to live happy joyous and free from drugs and alcohol, and it taught me the joy one could feel from acts of selflessness and service to a greater good. I learned how to start taking responsibility for my life. I learned about selfishness, self pity, and the effects my behaviours have had and still have on people. That void I had was being filled something much greater than drugs and alcohol, and I was making real honest friendships. I went back to school and got a degree in social work, got pardoned for my crimes and found a great job. I had some ups and downs I bought a house with my partner at the time broke up and sold the house within a year. For 11 years I managed my depression alongside of my sobriety never spending to much time in the darkness, and always using the tools given to me in recovery to get back to the light. I met a woman that was everything I ever dreamed of. We fell in love I moved into her place, but after a year we started drifting a part. I found one of my clients dead and a week later another one passed away. I started feeling alone again even when I was with my family something I had not felt in recovery. Once COVID hit, things got worse. I felt trapped and isolated. It got tense in our home, and my partner decided to end the relationship, so I moved out and started over again. I became depressed and ashamed, and angry. I felt unlovable. Each day I went to work pushing and pushing through the grief and sorrow and loss not eating and barely sleeping. I tried everything I ever learned in recovery to climb out of the darkness, but I kept falling further and further down the hole. Here I was 12 years sober and a social worker feeling so ashamed and so scared because all I could think about was ending my life. It is important to note that I did not want to kill myself, but It was all I could think about as if my mind was plagued. I felt like I had lost complete control over my thoughts. When I was alone I cried all the time and prayed for some sort of relief, and when I was with my friends I tried to pretend everything was okay. Through all of this the one thing I can say is that I did not want to use or drink not once. About a month ago it all became to much for me to handle. I texted a friend out of desperation wondering what I should do, and she suggested I call my doctor immediately. I was hesitant because I figured he would want to put me on medication. I prided myself in the belief that I did not need any medication since getting clean and sober. A belief that turned out to be wrong. The doctor immediately connected me to a psychiatrist and sent me to the hospital in Lethbridge. Within ten days of being in hospital and on an anti-depressant I started to feel good. Actually better than good. I felt hopeful, I felt loved, and I felt supported. |For me medication was the missing piece. The medication did not stop the negative thoughts, but it made them much more manageable, so I can eat and sleep properly, and so I can be of service and live life on life's terms. I have since found out that 3 of my closest friends are on anti-depressants, and all 3 are either in recovery or are social workers. I am starting to feel whole again, so I wanted to reach out here and say you are not alone especially you professionals."
If this personu2019s story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.
"When people say, "she's too smart for her own good," I really feel a connection to that. Growing up, I was an army brat, the middle child born to a loving but uptight mother and an incredibly stern and regimented father of whom I am not totally sure knew the difference between soldiers and his own children. We moved every two years or so, never really feeling like any place was home. My parents did their best though; any sports, music lessons, or any other extra curricular activities we desired, we were put into, I think to help ease our transitions into each new environment. I was always a straight A student without trying, I excelled at any activity I dabbled in, I was popular most of the time, and when I wasn't, I was too busy to care anyway. I excelled in order to be noticed. I needed approval, especially from my dad because that was something that didn't come easy. Alcohol was a polar opposite issue in my house. My mother rarely ever had more than a glass of wine with supper, whilst my father is one whom I had seen overindulge on many an occasion, always the life of the party (much to my mother's dismay). Drugs on the other hand, they were in complete agreement; drugs are terrible, if you do them you'll end up homeless! You'll end up a prostitute and dead in your 20s from AIDS. Literally, these are the examples used to try and deter any of us children from entering the forbidden dark side. All was well whilst I was kept a busy bee, boredom was something I was not permitted to partake in as that is when little problems started. Not only was I an intelligent child, but I was curious and inquisitive about everything and everyone around me, often testing limits in order to see what would happen. Then we moved again. This time to Northern Canada. Yellowknife to be exact and that's when I tore my own life apart, with the help of an extreme bout of teenage hormones. There were no extracurriculars of the caliber I was used to so I refused to participate. I was quickly bored and started hanging out with a rougher crowd. I started smoking cigarettes and weed at 13, I was drinking then too. By the time I hit 15, I had dropped out of school and had full time employment...my dad found out on his birthday. Rules became stricter, I had a curfew of 9:37 (yes, exactly 9:37), my parents didn't trust me, I felt like a mess and that they didn't love me anymore (this was the teenage idiot speaking. They loved me plenty, my parents were just lost and unknowing what to do with the once perfect child turned absolute nightmare). During this time I was diagnosed with depression, bipolar II disorder, and an anxiety disorder and medicated to the hilt where I was a zombie, everything numbed, my brain mush. I moved out and in with a boyfriend at the time. My roommates were four males who frequently drank, did a variety of drugs and partied hard with little to no growing up type inclinations anywhere in the near future. The friends that surrounded me were all from rough backgrounds. I tried to fit in, but really, what did I know? I left home because my parents didn't want me smoking or doing drugs and I didn't want to listen. These kids were often runaways or living with abusive, alcoholic, drug addict parents or in foster care, or on their own, emancipated with their own child or children at the tender age of 16. I was not one of them. I swallowed all of the pills I had left. I didn't belong there, I didn't belong at home. I had my stomach pumped. I spent some time in the psychiatric ward before leaving and moving in with yet another group of people. A family member in Winnipeg offered to take me in, get me away from the life I was living, an alternative to having to go back to my parents, whom I had so grievously shamed with my behaviour, I could not face. A new beginning! Except, one has to want to change. Things deteriorated quickly, and I was kicked out on my 17th birthday, no money, no place to go. I ended up homeless. I lived such a sheltered existence during my childhood that I had no idea that there were organizations and shelters to go. Instead, I couch surfed when I could, and when I couldn't I walked all the way to the school I went to when I was younger and slept in the playground because I knew I would be safe there.
Time went on, I eventually found a place with a million roommates, and discovered the glories of cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy...basically anything you didn't need a needle for, I did. I couldn't keep down a job, nor a place to live; I was in a string of abusive relationships that I stuck with for too long only to ensure I had a roof over my head. I couldn't take it anymore. I swallowed all of the pills. My roommate found me. I had my stomach pumped again. This time I end up begging my parents to come home. Still, I was not at my rock bottom. Living with my parents only lasted a short while. I enrolled in college as a mature student, received a huge amount of student loans, my parent's paid for my apartment close to the college, and I just dropped out and used all of my loans to get high. I literally put $20,000 worth of drugs up my nose within months. When the drugs and money ran out, my lease was up and my parents wised up to my behaviour I skipped town, got myself into another incredibly co-dependant, unhealthy, physically and mentally abusive relationship. I swallowed all of the pills, my ex found me, called 911, and my stomach was pumped again. I went home. Once I had enough and decided to leave (really opportunity struck with a random stranger from the bar I worked at and he offered to take me away and look after me). We drove to a town a few hours away where his kind and generous demeanour suddenly changed to that of a controlling, angry, and horrific monster. He confined me to a room in his home for a month whilst he used me as entertainment for his friends, keeping me high or unconscious so they could do as they wished without too much of a struggle from me. One day, I must have pissed him off because he put me outside in the middle of the night with no jacket or shoes in the middle of winter, messed out of my head. I wandered about looking for shelter and end up knocking on doors until someone let me in. Bruised, broken, and in absolute shambles, I fell into the doorway and just prayed this person would help me. He drove me back to the town from which I came a month before. I went in to my old house to pack and after a couple of hours I decided to venture to the bar for a drink where I then struck up a conversation with a group. One would think I'd be leery of strange men and promises of looking after me, but I was desperate. No money, no job, no way out. We went on a three day bender. This is when I hit rock bottom. I woke up in a city 5 hours away with no idea how I got there. Instead of swallowing all of the pills, I threw them out. I found someone to let me use their phone and I called my parents, still high as a kite but knowing that I am not going to live through this life much longer if I don't make an unequivocal change.
Thanks to the love of my parents, the help they got me, the support they gave me, and my own will to live and never go back, I rose out of the darkness. I struggled, honestly I cannot even remember the first month of being home with my family. I just knew I couldn't ever go back. Finding help was nearly impossible; there was a 6 week wait list to get me into a treatment centre, because I'd stayed clean for 10 days on my own, NA said they didn't really know what they could do for me, I felt despair. How was I going to get better without professional help? Somehow I did it. It took me years before I had a full range of emotion again. I didn't feel joy or happiness or excitement like "normal" people. Until one day I started to and that was one confusing time! Emotions? What is this I'm feeling? I had to re-learn regular emotion which sounds weird, but it was a really trying time when trying to stay away from drugs but all I wanted to do was turn down the volume on the feelings I was having; they were too intense. Now, I am 14 years drug free, I'm working on a degree in psychology, I have three beautiful children, a loving husband, I own my own home and I just bought the truck I really wanted. I am getting my yoga teacher certification, I volunteer as board chair for a mental health organization, I have a job I love and I love going on adventures and experiencing life with my family. My parents never stopped loving me, and are incredibly proud of the person I have grown into, though I no longer feel the need for their approval. There are less days of struggle and more days of contentment and excitement now. There is recuperation. There is life after. It will not always be as bad as it feels in the moment."
If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.
"Many of us resemble the drug addict in our ineffectual efforts to fill in the spiritual black hole, the void at the center, where we have lost touch with our souls, our spirit... with those sources of meaning and value that are not contingent or fleeting. Our consumerist, acquisition-, action-, and image-mad culture only serves to deepen the hole, leaving us emptier than before" - Gabor Matu00e9
A Journey from Empty to Full
Over the last 6 years of being in recovery from substance addiction and various behavioural addictions, I have had time to reflect on how I got here. For many, many years I was trying to fill the emptiness I always felt with outside possessions and material items. I tried work, electronics, houses, relationships, vehicles, holidays, booze, and finally drugs. Everything seemed to work momentarily, but that hollow, empty feeling inevitably returned.
It wasn't until I got into recovery that I was introduced to spirituality. Now I'm not talking religion, but with the help of others, we started to explore spirituality. I was soon able to connect past events with something more than just luck. There was no way I was simply just "lucky" to have avoided death so many times, especially after attempting to die by suicide more than once. It was at that point I was able to conclude there was a power greater than myself at work in my life. This is where things got tricky for me though! What was this power? How do I put my faith into something I can't see or touch?
Initially I was comfortable believing it was the universe guiding me. That was my higher power and it stayed like that for 4 years. I would turn my will over to this higher power and follow the signs and directions that were being presented to me. By asking for guidance and then focusing on the present moments, eventually I would recognize a sign or a feeling and explore it further. I was staying open-minded and willing to trying new ways of thinking and living because my old way of thinking and reacting got me into some very hellacious situations.
Around November of 2019, I attended Hillcrest Church with my partner for the first time. It was during that service that the pastor mentioned a few things that resonated with me. Now I'm not saying that I've read the entire bible or can quote any scripture, but I can say that the power of that morning has stuck with me ever since. I continued attending the next couple weeks with an open mind and received messages that I was sure were intended specifically for me! It was after the third weekend I started to understand that HE has been with me my entire life, I just wasn't ready to see (or believe) that.
Today, I know that I'm never alone again and I never have to experience that emptiness. I have fellowship, I have close friends which I care deeply for, and I have Him. I am never going to be someone who pushes God on anyone, but thought I would share what has FINALLY filled that void in MY life. Following His will for me and helping others has changed my life forever!
We've ALL been there (literally). Our Collective Journey offers a no-BS approach to help you collect the resources you need to put your life back on track. There is no cost for this support, and we are ready 24 hours a day.