- Mental Health
I started using when I was 17 years old. I thought I was just like everyone else when it began.
After I graduated high school, I wanted to get out of Minnetonka as fast as I could. I went to the University of Minnesota in Duluth. I made some really great friends, had a ton of fun and did pretty well in school. I even accomplished a 4.0 my last semester there. I was a cheerleader for football and basketball. I lived with five other girls that I had a blast with. I am still very close to one who will be a great friend forever.
After a year and a half at UMD, my best friend Matt passed away. I was lost and totally terrified of life without him. Drinking became the next best thing to having Matt by my side. When I drank I felt like I could talk to him and that he was with me. I was sad about his death, so I drank. I was celebrating his birthday, so I drank. I was sad he wasn’t with me, so I drank. I was missing him, so I drank. Ultimately I used his death as an excuse to drink. Well, I used everything as an excuse to drink.
After Matt passed away, I transferred to Mankato State University. I was ready to clean up, start again and take the opportunity to make something of myself. That lasted a few hours. I was headed to the races yet again! I found a group of friends through work and through some of the classes I managed to attend. They were good friends, most of them, and they sure knew how to party! I was having a “blast” blacking out almost every time I drank. By my second year at Mankato, my mother was quite worried about my behaviors. I was hospitalized four times. Detox was right around the corner, and without medical help I could die.
One morning in May 2011, I woke up knowing I had one of two choices. I could keep drinking or I could go to the hospital to detox again. It was Mother’s Day, so being the good daughter I was, I went to the hospital. Upon my arrival I found that my BAC was .41 nearly 12 hours after my last drink. Surprisingly I was functioning and not in a blackout. I was hospitalized for five days. I was alone, hallucinating and realizing that Ativan, recently prescribed to me, was yet another problem. I was detoxing from two deadly addictions.
Two weeks later a friend of mine got married. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t toast the bride with a beer? I was “fine” for a couple of weeks, able to somewhat control my drinking, but on June 18, 2011, I hit my rock bottom. I was at my at-the-time boyfriend’s house celebrating Father’s Day. I had gone out drinking with some friends in Mankato the night before, so I was pretty hungover. To ease the pain, I brought a water bottle full of raspberry-flavored Smirnoff vodka. I drank it like it was water. Since I could still feel, I decided to check out the liquor cabinet. I found some rum and some gin and drank some chocolate milk to wash down the piney taste.
The next thing I knew, I was in the back seat of my mother’s Dodge Durango, my boyfriend had broken up with me and I had no idea what was going on. I was kicking and screaming in the back seat. I was lying in the back seat and trying to kick out the window of the Durango so I could get out and run away from that horrible nightmare. However something amazing happened that night. On the drive back to my mother’s house, I kept saying how sorry I was and that I was ready to get help. I told her and my stepdad that I was sick of living the way I had been, and I was ready to make some changes.
It took me a while to get my bearings together and figure out where I was the next morning. I found my dead phone under a seat in the Durango, grabbed three beers and hid in the bathroom while pretending to take a bath. Awhile later my family called me upstairs. I looked out the back door and saw my dad talking with my mom. My parents split when I was young, so I knew something bad was about to happen. In an attempt to stop it, I stormed out the back door yelling, “Quit talking about me!” My parents ordered me back into the house and said they would be right in.
I didn’t care what was going to happen. I didn’t care that I had completely destroyed Father’s Day for my dad and my stepdad. I didn’t care that I was still very intoxicated in front of my entire family. However I agreed to hear my family out. My parents begged me to go to treatment, but I would only agree to outpatient because I wasn’t, “going to sit in some nut house.” I was so convinced I was right until I looked at my little brother. He hadn’t said a word the entire time so I asked him what his problem was. With tears in his eyes, he looked at me and said, “I’m sick and tired of your drinking, and I just want my sister back.” That’s all I needed to hear; I was in. I was packing. I wanted to get sober from that moment on. Whatever I was asked to do, I would do. My brother changed my life that day.
Six days later a bed opened up. My new life started. My life was finally a little brighter at that moment. During the phone interviews, I was scared but honest. By that time I knew I had a problem that needed attention. I was scared. I was scared. I was scared, so scared. I knew this was my last chance to have a life if I ever wanted one.
My experience in rehab was incredible. I learned so much during my 29 days there. Some days were absolutely horrible, emotional and dreary. I finally got to grieve the loss of my best friend, Matt. I can finally cry about missing him instead of drinking to cry. I do miss him, but I know that being sober is a gift he would want me to have. I am so beyond thankful for those 29 days.
Currently I work as a chemical dependency technician. I have a wonderful sponsor who I adore. My dad is in the program with me and just received his 12-year medallion. I was present physically, mentally and emotionally to see him receive it. My little brothers are finally proud to be mine! I am there when I say I will be there, and I love that. I have the honor of being a godmother to two gorgeous little twin girls who will be four in October. I have an astounding family and support system. Without them I wouldn’t be as confident or nearly as happy. I am thankful, proud and excited to say that I have a little over three years of sobriety today. I received my bachelor’s degree in alcohol and drug studies. I am just a few steps away from becoming a licensed alcohol and drug counselor for young women.
My parents went through a parent program, and my mother also comes to my aftercare group every other Tuesday. My mother swears by it! She has learned so much, and we have a really great relationship today. My parents are a crucial source of support for me and my recovery.
I have had some rough patches in the last three years. Everyone does, but the difference is how each situation is handled. NOTHING is bad enough to lose my sobriety and everything miraculous that comes with it. When I was debating whether or not I should get sober, someone said, “Matt didn’t have a choice. You do.” I will never forget that. I have a choice to be sober, to be healthy and to be happy. I’m going with that today.