- Friends & Family
- Mental Health
- Other Addictions
Submitted by Susanne Johnson
My parents got married at age 20. By the time they were age 25, they worked full-time jobs, and had a house mortgage. I felt pressure to do similar things by that age and thought, If I want to reach that, I need to know the direction of my life by age 15.” That idea and other pressures from society were a huge weight on my shoulders. I was fighting the obsession to die. I didn’t really feel suicidal, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live, either. In my thoughts, I was hoping to get some type of terminal illness, so I didn’t have to figure out my life. I was only 15 years old when I had those thoughts.
Then the unbelievable occurred and I was in a car wreck after going 90 miles per hour. I was hospitalized; I had many blood transfusions. By then end of it all, I was 100 pounds soaking wet, and had broken my femur so badly that all of the bone had to be replaced by metal. Endless surgeries followed. The moment that I had been hoping for had arrived. Until then, I was hoping to have an excuse not to have to deal with life.
Here is where my story changed a bit. I recovered from that accident completely, but soon thereafter found my obsession with cutting, which I still struggle with today.
I remember that I Googled “I want to hurt myself, but I don’t want to die”. I found out about cutting, tried it out, and became literally obsessed with it. It was helpful for a moment and then went downhill from there.
I can relate to people that talk about heroin. I can relate to people that talk about alcoholism. Those were things I did as well. I detoxed from heroin, had the shakes from alcoholism, and blacked out from benzos. Cutting was different. It gave me the temporary escape that I was looking for, without dying. The obsession to do so is way bigger than any drug I have ever used. It has been ten months since I last cut, but I still continue to struggle every day.
I went through a handful of mental health facilities and treatment centers between the ages of 16 and 21. In some of the treatment centers, it seemed like I walked in with one problem, and walked out with seven. At age 21, in a moment of sobriety, I even once went into a therapist’s office. On that day, I was not using any drugs or alcohol. I wanted to get help on how to proceed with my life. As I walked out, all I could think of was how to get high.
One day I was with a friend when I was offered a couple of oxys (oxycodone pills). I said, “no thanks,” but all of a sudden, all my anger issues revisited me within seconds, and I got really aggravated and said to myself, “screw it, bring it on” and snorted the drugs. My brain seemed to explode and then I felt numb. I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t aggravated– I was just content.
It only took a year for me to move from taking it with friends occasionally to finding my own connections and doing it three times a day. One day I found myself in a state of withdrawal and didn’t know what it was. I thought I was sick– like I was getting the flu or something. I took an antihistamine because it seemed like my allergies were bad, slept a lot, took Dayquil and was fighting the “flu” for three days.
A girl I liked wanted to go to a party, so I went while feeling miserable. I had a couple drinks, but felt bad. Someone offered me an Oxy30 and all of my symptoms went away. What is going on? That was the first time in my life that I was completely confused about what had happened. By the next morning, I was sick again. Then I knew I was in withdrawal and I became terrified. That was when I decided to get help. That feeling was my turning point.
I was seeing a therapist at that time and I was started on outpatient treatment. While I was there, my parents did an intervention on me. I said that it was crazy and I was not going to be part of any of it and I told them that I was not going to a treatment center and left the office. The next day, my mom tricked me in her car with an invitation for lunch, where my dad and my packed bags were waiting. I was not willing, not ready, and very angry, but I went to Florida and entered a detox to spend the next 120 days inside a treatment center.
I fought it every step of the way. Those four months were extremely needed for me. During the first 50 days, I did nothing else but think of a plot on how to get out of treatment. I was 24 old and my therapist was young, attractive (actually drop-dead gorgeous) and she had all my attention. She saved my life together in teamwork with my sponsor and 164 pages of the Big Book. I got a sponsor, read the book and went to meetings.
My sobriety has lasted 41 months now, with the exception of ten months without cutting myself. I found relief from my addiction and my alcoholism, but I’m still restless, irritable and discontent at times. I have decided that the disease epidemic of addiction is not necessarily a spiritual bottom. People in the current young adult generation are not walking in, broken, from a park bench for the most part. The older generation that I look up to, had their life together at age 25. They were the ones that were married with kids by my age. My generation lives in sober homes and is told not to date at that age. It’s very different.
I think I stayed sober this long because I have the ability to learn. There were times that I thought the 12-step program was failing me, but because Things like church, yoga, Buddhism, and more bailed me out during the tough times. My sobriety needs several anchors to be solid.
My relationship with my mom is perfect today. I still struggle with my dad, but that’s okay. It might not heal overnight; I must give it time. I don’t have a great relationship with my siblings so far, this is also a work in progress. I just know that this relationship would have been ruined if my parents would not have tricked me into going to treatment. I used to be angry about it; today I’m grateful for it.
I wrote a blog about my struggles. It got shared often, and my future project is a book that might help some people of my generation to find the right way. I want to focus on healing from self-harm and suicide. I think it’s something that is relevant. I want to focus on the people that are hurting—those that don’t get the chance to hit their spiritual bottom. There are 144 deaths per day, and over a 100 of them are under the age of 28. This epidemic may not be threatening an entire country, but it’s wiping out an entire generation. I want to do my part to stop this from happening.