This post is likely to be long and heartfelt. It is in the pain and the uncomfortable and unsettled by which the foundation of this post is written. This should probably be broken into parts, but I want you to read it in its entirety.
People don’t understand why I want to be open and why I want to share my story. Why would I want to struggle in the public eye? I’ve always called it being transparent. Letting people see the true me; the person that I am when I lay my head down on my pillow at night. I don’t write for attention, I don’t seek the opinions or compliments of others- I simply write…for my own healing and because I know that SOMEONE out there will stumble upon this and think, “I’m so glad I’m not alone”. That’s all that this is for. It’s not for the haters and the critical. If you are one of those, then by all means, step away now, because what is coming isn’t pretty.
I’ve talked about my struggles for quite some time now. I’ve thrown the terms “Eating Disorder”, “Depression & Anxiety”, “Mental Illness” and “Addict” around pretty loosely. Mostly, you know I’ve struggled here and there and now want others to know that it is ok to ask for help. You have seen me share some struggles and triumphs along the way, you’ve probably gotten bits and pieces of the story from people who themselves only know bits and pieces.
I often felt I couldn’t ask for help or share my struggles because the very people I needed it from were the ones I was terrified of their reactions. I was afraid to disappoint, afraid to be in trouble, afraid of any sort of conflict or confrontation. But now, as I am older (I am pushing 30 after all ;)) and have a deeper understanding of people and their humanness, I realize we are all broken. Some of us are slightly cracked, while others are shattered into pieces so tiny we can’t even fathom putting them all back together.
I am broken there is no doubt. These are the brutally honest, brittle pieces of my vulnerable heart being revealed. So please, choose your response and your words carefully, lest I remind you that you, too, are broken in some way. Again, I write for my own healing and for clarification of facts, not for opinions or accolade of my “courage” and “strength”.
Drug Addict. Those two words could never describe me. Those are the words used to describe people who engage in illegal activity to use illegal drugs and die of overdoses on street corners. Those words could never apply to the little blond headed, church-girl who never missed a Sunday morning service. Those words couldn’t describe the common housewife, stay at home mom, or the educated and sheltered.
Oh, but they could. And they can. And they do.
Those two little words describe me. I have an addiction. To drugs. But, my addiction is a little “different” than the definition I gave above. My drugs are prescribed, they are legal, they are purchased at the nearest pharmacy and handed to me by the most well meaning doctors and pharmacists. What a lot of doctors don’t see, or choose not to see, are the people like me, who seek them out time and time again, along with many of their colleagues, putting on a pretty front to obtain medications that I “need”.
My need isn’t a painkiller or a sleep aid. My “need” is a desire, an addiction to an altered feeling given by a chemical change in my brain. It is an altered state of mind, desperation to escape, change in how I feel that sends me to the nearest pharmacy or doctor. I had always known I had a small problem with painkillers and anti-anxiety meds. But, my certificate on the wall showing me a Certified Pharmacy Technician, meant that I surely knew what I was doing when it came to my own dosing of my own medications.
Last week wasn’t much different. Except for the fact that I almost died.
I’ll stop a minute for you to let that sink in. I know I need a minute to let it do so.
I almost died.
I had bronchitis and was given a prescription for a cough syrup that had a painkiller in it. So what if I took it a little more frequently than I should or maybe just a little more of a dose than what was recommended? So what if I added it to my other prescribed controlled substances “just to sleep”. I was sick, after all. A good night’s rest would make me feel better in the morning. What I didn’t know, was that the combination of drugs I was mixing together was slowly putting me more and more unaware of my true surroundings and altering my mind to a point that I would continue to take more and more drugs mixed together that ultimately could have led to my death.
I don’t know if my decision to take more and more medication was intentional. The doctors seemed to think it was, because if I just “wanted to sleep a Benadryl could have accomplished the same purpose”. I have record of a few texts that I have absolutely no recollection of sending that would suggest it was intentional. Well they do more than suggest. They flat out say that it was intentional. But, I have conversations and hospital documentation that reflect my fight that evening that it wasn’t intentional. My week had been a mess. There were a lot of varying factors. I was also in the down part of this particular depressive cycle and not feeling all that well in the first place. It seems I don’t know what I wanted. I think I thought I wanted to die, until I realized it was really possible and someone else stepped in and took over before I could think any more about it. That’s the best I can come up with right now. Maybe I felt so lost. Like I could never get out.
My chest felt heavy. I felt very tired. I couldn’t remember where I was or anything from the few hours I had just previously lived. I lay down in bed next to my best friend. She was staying the night after recognizing earlier in the day the need for an extra person because my day had been very rough. I uttered the question “Am I dying?”.
She questioned me a bit and what happened over the next 24 hours I know only because I have been told- not because I remember.
My friend made a decision that could have risked our friendship. But she cared more about my life in that moment than our friendship. She made many more decisions, often choosing the opposite of things I would tell her I did or didn’t want, knowing they were in my best interest and I wasn’t thinking clearly.
She put me in her car after I made a list of medicines I had in the house “just in case someone needed to know”. She drove me to the ER where a nurse came and got me from the car in a wheelchair and took me straight back to a little bed in a curtained area where doctors and nurses mumbled the words “drug overdose” and where machines, wires and IVs were quickly attached to me.
They questioned me and I tried to answer. I don’t remember this. I don’t remember the hustle and bustle. I don’t remember the car ride, or the nurse who pulled me from the car. I don’t remember them telling me I was lucky to be talking. Lucky to be alive. I just have the memories and words from those who stood hopelessly by, watching this all unfold.
I was moved to the ICU later in the night, where I remained for 3 days. I don’t remember much of those days. I slept a lot, and after all the medications I had consumed, my sleep needed to be monitored. Was I breathing? Was my heart rate ok? Was it even beating? Because of the nature of my admission, I was constantly supervised, never left alone, not given silverware or even privacy to use the bathroom. I still was not coherent enough to talk to them, tell them what I needed, explain to them my intentions of the night of the drug overdose, so they were taking all precautionary measures. They did all they could to keep me alive and safe.
And on Monday evening, I was transferred to a psychiatric hospital. I was coming out of my drug haze and now finally declared, “Medically stable”. Now, in a different hospital room with different surroundings and different types of care, I started to piece the previous few days together as best I could. The brutal, bare bones truth?
I almost died.
I put my family and friends in positions to make decisions that they never should have had to make.
I made choices that could have impacted so many more lives than it did.
I almost changed the entire future of my husband and my children by leaving them widowed and mother-less.
After many more days in a hospital, sitting with doctors, psychiatrists and therapists discussing treatments and options, I came home to a folder of information that just stares up at me.
Information on Intensive Outpatient Programs, Substance Abuse Therapies, and Treatment Centers. A list of prescriptions and doctors with dates and times of which I have appointments. Words that signify and imply a long road to recovery ahead of me.
But those things seem so small when compared to the list of what-ifs, what could-have-been and what should-have-been’s. I’m left now to recover, both in the long term and the short term. I have the immediate withdrawal issues to work through. I have the medicine changes to work through. I have the brutal reality that I am now forced to face this battle head on as there is no other choice- my cloudy transparency has just been spit shined and made perfectly clear.
Aside from the physical symptoms, I face the hurt in my heart. That is another post all of its own. And there I will tell you the pain of knowing what I could have done to my family, the anguish of watching people around me helplessly suffer just praying I’d be ok. I will share with you the pain in my heart for others who suffer from addiction. I will share how “lucky” I am to be alive.
For now, I end this here. I have therapies and much more ahead of me. I have programs lined up and people to talk to and I fully intend on doing whatever I can to recover for my family… and for me. Because I believe there are big plans ahead for me in my life.
My name is Lindsay, and I am a soon-to-be recovered Drug Addict.~Lindsay