- Mental Health
I began drug use and drinking at an early age and by my early teenage years, I became a regular user. I was a kid who never felt like I fit in anywhere. I struggled with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder resulting in suicidal thoughts and emotional instability. The moment I found drugs & alcohol, all of that changed. It gave me all the confidence I’d never had. It made the bad times tolerable and the good times even better, but the thoughts of drinking, using and escaping never left my mind and became an obsession. I would hide it from my family and drinking alone became my regular getaway.
I found myself embarking on an initial journey into recovery
It only lasted about a year. I was never honest with myself and was riddled with jealousy. Other people could drink and I couldn’t. People could go without psych meds and I couldn’t. That set off a 15-year-long journey that eventually brought me to a point where I feared living more than dying. What had started as nightly ritual of a few beers turned into straight maintenance drinking— waking up to several shots of whiskey in my coffee, drinking beer all day and ending with more hard alcohol at night. All day, every day. Before I knew it, I was self-medicating and had no intentions of continuing psych meds that are needed to help stabilize my mood frequency.
I had lost it all. Family and friends had given up on me. There was no money left, no place to call home, I couldn’t stop drinking and I couldn’t get enough booze in me to kill the pain anymore. My life had become one big lie as I had been hiding the extent of my problems from everyone close to me. I once spent four days lying saying I had the flu when in fact, I was on a bender. I couldn’t stop. The terror was something I wish nobody ever has to go through. I just wanted to run away and I had no idea what awaited me on the other end of it all. I never thought it was possible to reach that bottom but alcoholism and drug addiction brought me down to my knees and finally, staring at all the wreckage, there were only two choices – let myself go for good, or ask for help. It took losing everything for me to accept that I had to make a choice between substance abuse or life. I couldn’t have both.
Treatment forced me to see one thing crystal clear – my recovery had to be the most important thing in my life. They say whatever you put ahead of your recovery will be the second thing you lose. I learned that I had to get sober not for other people or to look good in the face of my wreckage, but that I had to get sober for myself. Most importantly, I had to learn that I was worth it.
Nowadays I try to remain as vigilant in possible in the fellowship of recovery. Talking to other people who have faced similar things to me and hearing how they’ve moved through and handled the many challenges life presents sober is critical for me. I also do what I can for the newcomer. When I found recovery, I can’t even summarize how significant it was for me to talk to people and tell them what I have done and then be told to. I owe that same warm heart to every new person who is seeking long term recovery. In short, I try to avoid being hungry, angry, lonely and tired, as these four things can trigger an emotional spiral.
I now yearn to take my experience as a musician and merge it with my newfound passion for recovery.
My greatest message to others that are suffering from addiction/alcoholism is as follows:
You’re worth it, plain and simple. There is a solution to your problem, and millions of people out there – 23 million in America, in fact – have found it. You can too. You are not a bad person that needs to get good, you are a sick person who needs to get well.
Today my life is honest and true. I don’t have nearly the material things I once did. What I do have today is a reflection in the mirror that I can l good about. The greatest gift of recovery is the ability I now have to feel good about the things I do and the person that I am. I had never felt that before in my life. I get to care for others and be a good friend and a good son. It’s all genuine and true and I owe all of that to recovery.