What Addiction Means to Me

I know I have written a lot about how much my mother’s addiction has hurt me, but I haven’t written a lot about it as a societal issue. I can be pretty emotional about this because it weighs heavy on my heart; and even though I’m not one myself, I have a pretty good relationship with addiction.

When I think of the word addiction, first thing that comes to my mind is drugs. But there are so many other things that people are addicted to. Sex, food, motorcycles, porn, fitness, alcohol… The list could be anything. I think people see the word addiction and automatically think of it as something negative that other people have. Nobody wants to admit that they are the one with a problem. The truth is, I think everyone is slightly addicted to something. Everyone has their own substance or behavior that they rely on. We are a species that loves familiarity and being in a routine. We love knowing that if nothing is working out, there will always be something to fall back on.

And that’s why I don’t always turn my nose up at addiction.

Everyone has something they are going through, and everyone relies on something or someone to help them mask the pain. Who are we to judge the sins of someone else? Life is hard! All anyone wants is to escape a world of pain.

What gets me, though, is when someone allows their addiction to become priority over things like children, family, health, etc. I know that drugs are hard to escape. They are literally chemically compounded to keep you hooked. But there is help out there for anyone that wants to change. 

I don’t see addiction as an ugly word. 

Broken families. 

Death. 

Estranged parents. 

Violence. 

Prison. 

Hatred. 

Pain.

Anger.

That is what comes from addiction. Those are the ugly words.

 

Mental Health Awareness Month

I’ve never talked about mental health on my blog before, but I figured it’s a great topic to talk about, and since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, there’s no better time than now!

When I think about words that describe myself, I first think about words like happy, energetic, motivated, determined, etc. But the truth is, there are more times than I’d like to admit where I feel the exact opposite of those. There are days I want to pull the blankets over my head and sleep the day away. There are days where I feel sad, have no energy, no motivation, and no patience.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million people) experience mental illness in a given year. Also, mood disorders, (including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder) are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults 18–44 years old.

So if so many people are affected by a mental illness, why do I feel so alone when we realize that I may be suffering, too?

When I look back on my life, my darkest time was definitely throughout my junior high school years. I remember talking to the school counselor a lot during my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years. It was the time in my life where I most struggled with the absence of my mom. I think it was when I first started to fully understand what had happened to me and began to realize that my life was much different that those of my classmates. I was angry a lot of the time. I grew up in a family of six siblings, and at this time I remember I would get in trouble a lot for hitting on them. I don’t consider myself a hostile person, but at that time I was looking for an outlet of my emotions that didn’t involve talking about or dealing with the severity of them. I resented my mom and the fact that she chose drugs over my sister and I, but my sister was years younger than I was and couldn’t fully understand what had happened. She was only 3 when DCFS took us from our mom. So I was dealing with all of those demons completely alone- even the person that I went through this with couldn’t help me.

It was my eighth grade year when I hit rock bottom. I had a bedroom in our basement, and my bed was one of those bunk beds that had a desk under it instead of a second mattress. I was sitting at that desk listening to some of Eminem’s darkest songs and thinking about how much I hated what I was going through. I got up and searches the medicine cabinet for any and all pills I could find.

I went back to my desk, laid the pills out, and started writing goodbye letters to my loved ones. Before I got through the last letter, I was bawling and starting to realize that this wasn’t something I could go through with. I imagined what my family would be like as they read these letters, and I realized I loved them WAY too much to put them through something like that.

I went to school the next day. During PE hour, I gave my best friend the letter I had wrote her the night before and explained to her what I was feeling. We cried together in the locker room and she took me to go get help from a teacher.

I’ll never forget that moment.

We grew apart in the following years, but I have treasured that moment of love and understanding for all of these years. She was the one that picked me up without judgement and led me to the help I needed. I love her for that to this very day.

Many years ago!!

There is no shame in getting the help you need. I recently read a post on Facebook that said something along the lines of hoping that one day getting help for mental health would be as normal as going to the doctor for an injury, and that getting released from school for mental health would be as normal as leaving for a tummy ache. What a world that would be. Let’s end the stigma against mental illness and help those suffering get the help they need.