While I just one post ago was defending my right to be sarcastic, judgemental, or I guess just shitty sometimes, I really feel the need today to be serious about a very serious issue. Or I guess a couple of issues that pretty much tie into one.
I do believe on some level that addiction is a mental illness, or it doesn’t start off that way. No matter what anyone says, you cannot convince me that using does not start as a choice that develops into a compulsive mental illness. Everyone I have ever met that has started using drugs has made the choice to use. That is me, personally, making a PERSONAL statement. I’m not stating any facts
I have had a very close relationship with mental illness as well as addiction, from seeing it in other people to dealing with it myself. Having come to terms with it and making the choice to change my ways and deal with those issues, I do feel like I have the right to speak on the subject.
I would say my mom is probably the first person who I knew off the bat had a problem before I ever really knew what the “problem” was. When I was younger my mom was a compulsive drinker, she always had to have a boyfriend, she always had to be on some kind of substance and all of that took a front seat while my sister & I took a back seat. Like back of the back, like the fucking trunk. She literally drank and drugged and boyfriended herself into a car accident which left her declared dead for several minutes and broke my sister’s neck at the age of 3, because she just could not stop. I haven’t ever really gone into great detail about the effects this had on me because I don’t want to seem like I’m using the experience as a crutch or trying to get attention by talking about something that happened like 25 years ago. To this day I have it mentally ingrained in me that at any moment, the people I love will disappear from my life. I literally have carried with me since I was a child my mom saying “ok I’ll see you later! Love you!” then dying after she left and me not seeing her for months. Not a fun thing! Couple that with my dad leaving and basically never coming back into my life the way he should. Abandonment issues for days. After my mom’s accident, she was never the same. She just kept moving from place to place, making bad decision after bad decision and leaving me & my sister time after time. So I would say that is why I have never really felt comfortable with opening up 100% with anyone, and why I’ve always held people at a distance. I just never felt like constancy would be a real thing for me. So as I got older and my friends started doing different, mind altering things, I started trying them out for myself and I absolutely loved it. I loved feeling like “fuck it! This feels great right now” and then just rolling with that feeling for days. If we started drinking I never wanted to stop. The bottle would be halfway gone and I’d be panicking wondering how we could get more alcohol. I hoarded cigarettes because I DEFINITELY needed those. The anti-seizure medication we were stealing and taking was even better. We walked around in the dark all night looking at street lights’ light trails, touching each other’s arms because it felt like once your hand was off of the other person’s arm you could still feel it and it felt like it was stretching out for miles. I almost died twice trying a harder drug that I will not mention, but I learned a lesson there and never touched that shit again. Then came the white girl and we all know how that went. We had so much fun doing that shit. We just had fun and literally felt no need to stop whatsoever. We weren’t hurting anyone, we weren’t hurting ourselves (in our minds) we were just having a good time and enjoying our youth.
Then things started changing.
For some reason all of my friends started using pills. They loved pills. They were getting so doped up and moving so slow it was driving me crazy. They looked disgusting, nodding out and scratching. THEN they started smoking crack. That was when I had to just get away from them. I saw how out of control things got basically overnight. It wasn’t fun anymore, NO ONE was having a good time. They were so stressed out about where their next high was coming from that they were stressing ME out. I saw that same desperation that I had seen in my mom as a kid and it just shook me awake and I stopped hanging out with all my friends because I did not want to end up like that.
That was it. No dramatic story. No rock bottom. Just a conscious decision to stop wasting money and brain cells and not go any further down the rabbit hole. Meanwhile 80% of the people I was friends with back then now struggle with addiction or are dead. And that could have been me. That is the most sobering thing. I chose to get clean before I had kids, before I had a sick grandmother, before I was stealing to get high. I didn’t need any other reason than just not wanting to lose control.
On the flip side, my childhood trauma was light compared to what my friends had faced as kids. Sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse really made them feel like using just erased all those bad feelings. And they couldn’t stop chasing that high because they just wanted to escape. I’m not saying drugs were the way to go, but I can see feeling trapped and that looking like a good way out.
Which brings me to this: my children having depression and addiction issues on both sides of the family is exactly WHY I let them be themselves. I encourage them to be goofy, to have fun. I try and am getting better at not berating them or making them feel like shit when they don’t live up to my standards and expectations. I do not want my children to think that drugs will solve their problems, or make them feel better, or keep them company because they are lonely. I have so many friends who have children now that are super young and already have so many problems because they are either afraid of their parents reactions to what they might say, or they are afraid of going unheard. It is scary. When the time comes I am sure I will have to tell my kids about my brush with drug use and using to cover up feelings I didn’t want to face, but I would rather be candid about my past for the sake of their future than to just cover it up and pretend it never happened.