I grew up using food and alcohol to deal with stress, and by the time I reached college, I was miserable because both stopped working. I was overweight and felt terrible about myself. As this depression led to suicidal thoughts, I reached out to a counselor at college, and she signed me up for the first eating disorder treatment program at the university. Through this outpatient program I was introduced to 12-step programs and began my journey of recovery.
Hitting a bottom in college, the period of in my life everyone had said should be “the time of my life,” was huge. Instead of being the outgoing, social, smart girl I knew I could be, I was isolating, overeating and drinking myself into a darkness that really scared me. I was dropping classes before I failed them and knew I was in trouble.
I am still learning my lessons, but I now know that addiction is a disease and must be treated. For me part of that treatment was learning how to live my life in a new, healthy way. I knew nothing about how to do that so I needed to use all the tools at my disposal to not go back to my addiction as a way to deal with life. Counseling, 12-step programs, developing a relationship with God, exercise, trying new hobbies and hanging out with new people are a few of the many important things that helped me begin to change.
Life today is full. After being sober since I was 21, recovery is a way of life that I can’t imagine living without. I have a career that I love and friends and family that I have imperfectly great relationships with. I no longer struggle to not use an addiction to make it through the day but instead have so many healthy ways to deal with life’s ups and downs: my faith and relationship with God, friends, family, meetings, and activities that I love.
I am so grateful for the process for navigating life that I’ve learned through recovery. By accepting my addiction and alcoholism, my life is so much rich and more meaningful. Each year in recovery, I thank God for all the insights, mistakes, triumphs, failures, joys and sorrows because I know I’m living my life to its fullest. That’s what I always wanted, I just kept getting in my own way!