Category Archives: addiction
I do not know how to start this journal entry…my mind has been racing for a few weeks now. I have been preoccupied, stressed out over assignments for school, stressed out over meeting the goal I have set for finishing this math course in one semester. I had some trouble at work with someone who drove my afternoon route and used my bus. I feel stressed about fitting in appointments with school and work. There is not enough time in the days lately. I feel bad about myself at home for not being able to cook dinner every night, not able to keep up with laundry, etc. My pain level has been really high for weeks now and it makes everything in my life so much harder.
Oxycodone is calling me badly the past few weeks. I should probably just be honest here and instead of saying Oxycodone I should say heroin because that is what it is. It is still hard sometimes to admit I am a recovering heroin addict. It is hard because when you hear or say heroin addict you automatically begin to envision some “junkie” with needle marks everywhere living on the streets. In truth that stereotype fits the minority of heroin addicts these days thanks to prescription opiates given by doctors and abused by patients. I am guilty, when I hear or say heroin addict, of picturing someone else other than myself. I have to force myself to accept the truth about my addiction and who I am.
And….I am a recovering heroin addict….
Of all the things in my life I never imagined… this tops them all.
It makes me a little sad on the inside and a little ashamed I have to own this part of my life. I want to get high so bad right now. I will not break but I have to say it out loud sometimes so that it is real and not hidden. It can’t be a secret anymore…though I wish it could be most of the time. I do not want people to judge me. I do not want people to view me the way I view heroin addicts. I do not want them to view me the way I know they would….a dirty person on a street ally trading their bodies for a fix or a homeless person so sick from withdrawals they’ll beg, borrow or steal to stop the pain. Yeah I do not want people to view me in that way and if everyone knew what I was….they would. I never used the needle to take heroin so for a long time I could deny I was a heroin addict because of the view I held about what a heroin addict was. It is the same view you probably have yourself. You know as you read the two words “heroin addict” you are picturing something out of Basketball Diaries, or imagining Nikki Sixx from a memory he shared from his book. Well that is not an accurate depiction of a heroin addict, especially today. The heroin addict of today can be your soccer mom neighbor, your middle school kid who is on honor roll, it can be your classmate in college sitting next to you appearing to be all together, and it can be your grandparent recovering from a hip surgery. None of which will have track marks, none of which use the needle to get high on heroin. All of those examples can, of course, be popping prescription opiates in double doses, or however many it takes to get real high for them, they could be snorting crushed up opiates, and they could be smoking crushed opiates. They could be doing these things and no one will be the wiser. They could be doing these things not knowing themselves what is in store for them when they run out.
When my dad died in 1996 my world spun out of control very quickly. I went from smoking pot and popping soma to get high once in a while to moving on up to smoking opium. I didn’t know exactly what opium was at the time except that it made me feel real good.
I was 18, my dad, who was my world, was now dead, my mom was still a crazy schizophrenic, my family (brothers, cousins) was falling apart, and I got so fucked up with it all. I will remember my first high on opium for the rest of my life. It was the best God damned high I had ever had. I was hooked immediately. It was warm, numbing, relaxing, and a calm to any storm that was around. I had no idea that opium came from a plant that heroin also came from at that time. Would I have run to that if I had known that back then? I can’t say for sure…it might have caused me to pause certainly…but losing my dad and everything else going on during that time of my life…looking back…I have to say I probably would have done it anyway thinking I would have been the invincible one who wouldn’t end up with a drug problem…I was running from so many things back then in any way I could just so I did not have to deal with it, or feel the hurt from it. I smoked it for almost two years. When the opportunity came up for me to get out and get clean I took it. I left my hometown completely.
I did the whole clean up cold turkey. I used vodka to help alleviate some of the withdrawals but it was the worst fucking pain, feeling, sickness I have ever faced. The agony of getting clean lasted for months. There were times I thought for sure I would die on the toilet…or die hunched over the tub. Eventually the withdrawals subsided but I was left with a permanent problem of depression and a constant yearning for opium. I know if I had not left my hometown I would not have gotten clean…I know if I had not gotten out I would have ended up with the needle eventually.
So I move on with my life in a new place. I get my shit together or so I thought…out of nowhere I begin to get sick, and have terrible leg pain…and one day I wake up and I can no longer walk…of course as you all know this was the tumor…it leads me on the road to back surgery ….which in return leads me to the road of oxycodone…which in returns leads me to fall off the wagon in the worst way…easily, in secret, and appears under control…until it isn’t and fuck it is too late….
So there I was…popping pills like candy…crushing a few here and there to snort them…all in the privacy of my bathroom…kids playing…hubby working…I was feeling good…house was clean…laundry got done…cooked amazing meals the entire household bragged about…planted flowers…created a beautiful perennial garden…and then one day my father n law was visiting…I had snorted oxycodone and Vicodin…it made me so high that I blacked out in my kitchen…my father n law heard me fall to the floor passed out and he was in our basement…next thing I remember he is helping me into my bed. I slept all day that day…and when I woke up I knew I was in a place so dark that I would have to fight like hell to get out of or it would be over for me very soon. I reminded myself how I felt when my dad died and what it would do to my kids.
I was so afraid of going through withdrawals like I had before. I was terrified of the sickness, the pain, the emotional roller coaster…I wasn’t looking forward to that ride again ever but I knew I had to do it or I would die. I chose to live…I chose to live for my kids.
I did it and I did it cold turkey for a few weeks and after a few weeks I knew I needed help or I would end right back where I started. I spoke with a doctor I was seeing at the time. I explained to him I was abusing the pills and I needed help to come off of them slowly but I didn’t want something to replace them as just another addiction. I then told the doctor office to mark my chart that oxycodone can pose an abuse problem with me, not to prescribe them unless there is dire need of them, which basically means only if I have cancer or something so severe like that.
I have been clean a long time…and it scares me that even after all these years I still want that high. There are times I want to get high so bad that I will have episodes of diarrhea. It is like my brain is telling my body it needs it, it remembers it, and I am going to force your body to force you to break down and take it. This is what makes recovery so hard…it is a lifelong battle I realize now. This will never go away for me and I need to recognize it and not forget it.
I do not really have anyone I can talk to about this…I mean I could talk to my best friend but it isn’t a light subject and I still feel a little ashamed of it…I think my husband is ashamed of it…he doesn’t like me talking about it, he doesn’t think I should tell people I have an addiction problem…I don’t either but I also know in order to stay clean I have to own it…it can’t be a secret…it becomes a secret again then that will lead to relapse….
So I am telling the world right now that I want to get high so God damned bad right now on opiates that it makes my shoulders tense up…my stomach churn…and my mind races with thoughts of that warm cozy feeling, that numb relaxing calm that I could have again in just a moment….I can’t stop thinking about it…but I WILL NOT BREAK…no I will not break…I am on a mission!!
For a week I worried about presenting my autobiographical speech for my communications class. I had to prepare a speech that fell between three to five minutes. My first initial concern was, how could I have prepared my story of 36 years in under five minutes! My second concern was that majority of my classmates were fifteen years younger than me. My final concern was how was I going to share my story, a very dark story, filled with missteps and trauma with a youth on looking from a perspective I imagined was a huge difference to my own life.
Today I had to present my story to my classmates. My heart was racing; my face I could feel began to blush, palms sweaty, and my voice trembling I stood up there and gave it my best shot. I focused on my breathing and trying to appear loose. Little things were making the anxiety worse like the clicker for my slide show was not cooperating fully. The content making me feel uneasy as well.
Someone had said, “Maybe you shouldn’t share some of your story.” Referring to my past drug addiction and perhaps some of the trauma I went through growing up. I contemplated this myself as I went over the speech several days. I spent days refining it, cutting things away from it, adding material that was brighter. In the final draft however I kept the drug addiction, the information about my mother being mentally ill, and I kept the information in it about my disability.
I mean why should I choose to omit these things when they belong to me? Yes, they belonged to me. So much so, that if these things did not exist I would be a completely different woman today. Quite frankly, I am proud of who I am today. Do I enjoy having a dark past? Does anyone? No, but you have to own your mistakes in order to prevent repeating them. I acknowledge what I have done wrong in my past and I do not plan to repeat them ever.
I stood there, looking at the crowd of my fellow students, feeling my heart in my throat. I took a deep breath and I began from the beginning. Each section I arrived at I’d glance over my classmates, hoping they would be preoccupied with some electronic device so I could feel at more ease with the next section. To my amazement every eye was glued to me. Some were even leaning into the desk as if they were leaning into my story wanting to hear it all, word for word, what I had gone through, what I had conquered in my life thus far. This increased my anxiety.
Fleeting thoughts running through my mind, “they are judging me; they are so young, can they even begin to understand what events I am sharing…” I was trying so hard to push those thoughts aside so I could get through to the end.
Then, something happened. I locked eyes with a few classmates. Something in their facial expression told me they were not judging at all. They were curious, almost mesmerized by my words of defeat, hurt, loss, agony, joy, success, and hope. Standing up there suddenly felt different. I was still anxious but I felt acceptance from the crowd.
Five minutes is not a long time, but when you are standing in front of crowd feeling naked as you share your life history, those five minutes feel like forever. In the moment I locked eyes with a few classmates it changed. Three minutes passed by so quickly and before I knew it I was ending the speech.
The claps I received felt like at any moment it would turn into a standing ovation from the entire room. It filled me with accomplishment, confidence, and acceptance.
The class sat and listened to about five more speeches and class was over. I was approached by a few students in amazement. They said, “They were so touched, and inspired by what I shared.” I said, “Thank you so much” and walked on out of class.
Then one student called out my name, “Rachel!” I stopped in the hall. Her eyes were glossy and on the brink of shedding tears as she reached out to put her hand on my arm. “Your story was so inspiring Rachel, you have greatness in you. Wisdom came out as you presented your story perfectly. You inspired me. I can’t begin to tell you how much I related to what you were saying up there. I see you reaching your goal to graduate and you will be an honor student I see in the future” wiping tears from her eyes as she shared some more of her story with me.
She shared with me her history with an abusive past. She talked about how her journey to where she is now wasn’t the easiest either. We shared thoughts about courage, strength and a desire for independence.
She said to me again, “Rachel, I am so glad you shared your story and I got to be lucky enough to hear you give it so gracefully.” I reached and hugged her I was so overwhelmed with warm feelings for this woman. I did not think I gave it gracefully. I thought I was a wreck standing up there trying to speak to the room. Anxiously, I was throwing most of my flaws into the wind of that small communications room, giving out bullets that could be used to harm me later.
She lifted me up to a level at this moment I can’t describe in words. She said I moved her but yet here she was moving me. She was moving me closer towards determination. Closer to victory over all I had done wrong in my past. She was moving me closer to acceptance that I had in fact been a drug addict, an abused woman, a lost young lady feeling hopeless with the death of my dad, but that those things were OK because I am not the only one carrying scars from childhood, or young adulthood.
It was an amazing end to my school day. I am glad I didn’t cut away some of my dark past. Today I took responsibility for all of it. Today I didn’t hide behind a sheltered computer screen, BLOG post, or safer environment. I am glad that I was able to stand up in front of strangers today to finally own it all.
I am not ashamed of that. I am not ashamed of any of it anymore. Today proved to me that I am finally not ashamed of where I have been, or where I come from. Most importantly today proved to me that I am where I belong and my future is going to bright. I am so excited about my life, my entire life. It deserves to be celebrated.
So Wednesday in English Composition we were made to get into groups to do an assignment. While we were working on the work a fellow classmate asked me why I decided to go back to school at my age? I couldn’t answer right away. It wasn’t that I didn’t have an answer, in that moment it felt that it was a complicated, personal and long answer. I simply told the classmate that I have something to prove I guess. I wasn’t ready to give that entire piece of myself up in that moment. I have thought about that question since Wednesday. Why did I decide to finally go back to school? What was it that finally pushed me to that point of committing to such a long, tough road to travel? Why couldn’t I answer the question? A few things have entered my mind…and now I can share that piece of myself.
The roll over crash I survived in 2012 really jolted me. Jolted me in a good way. It made me realize without a doubt the potential I had been wasting for years would have been a shame on the memory I would have left behind and the obituary that would have been left. I guess that was the main event that pushed me to finally decide to commit. I know you are probably wondering why I waited until spring of 2015 to take the step of enrolling.
Well that is where my disability, and my health came into play. I set a two year mark for myself. I had told myself if I could work, and continue driving bus for two years then I would know I had a 90% chance of being able to do it physically. Driving bus might sound easy but trust me it is a very demanding job. You have to have many skill sets in order to be a successful bus driver. Responsibility needed for that job can be overwhelming at times. Maybe one day I can share with you what it takes to be a successful bus driver.
Now there is still a chance I do not finish or make it to my final goal I know. These things are out of my control and I do not think I should waste my potential on something I have no concrete evidence of happening. I could end up in a wheel chair. I could end up having no other choice but surgical removal of the tumor leaving me with no use of right leg, stuck with a colostomy bag. These things are just a possibility. So is me getting hit by a bus in my work parking lot. Does this mean I should not go into work? No, it means that shit happens all the time that we have no control over and we keep moving forward in spite of those possibilities. It is called living.
So I guess my short answer as to why I decided to return to school at my age would be I got tired of wasting potential I knew I had in a life I know could end any moment of any day.
Why couldn’t I answer the question on the spot? I never thought others would be interested in why I was thirty-six and in my first semester so shock was a factor I think. Also it isn’t easy telling a stranger, a stranger who is most likely fifteen years younger, that you really fucked up in high school. It isn’t easy to say out loud that you were an abused child, angry teen, addict, etc. I know I should wear my sobriety on my sleeve as a badge of honor. I just don’t know how to do that in the real world. That is something else I am figuring out on this journey. I have lost lots of friends to overdoses so to be a survivor is a miracle in my eyes. I have to figure out how to wear it on my sleeve like a badge of honor in front of my fellow students and professors I guess…
So Tuesday, September 24th I had to be taken off my bus in an ambulance. I thought I was having a heart attack. At first I thought it was an anxiety attack. What I have found out is my heart actually stops beating two beats per minute and when it jump starts back up on the third beat it starts in the 200 beats per minute range and rises, this is known as atrial fibrillation. 300 beats per minute is stroke area. Had my coworker in dispatch not called 911 for me I would have either stroked out, or had a massive heart attack. Yeah pretty scary stuff.
I went in yesterday to get a holster monitor on to record my hearts actions. I was put on a beta blocker to help slow the heart when it jump starts so I do not stroke out. It still hurts, and it still races but not at stroke limit. I am hoping I can just be medicated to fix this problem. My boss informed me that if I have a pace maker put in that I can not hold a CDL. I love my job. I don’t want to have to leave my job. I have met some very wonderful people there and the job saved my life.
When I first applied at PC I was at the lowest point in my life. I was ready to leave my husband, and take my own life. I had been disabled for 8 years prior and it had taken its toll on me. I was so thankful to PC that they gave me a chance. If I have to leave my job I am not sure how I will handle that.
Right now I am trying real hard to stay positive. I’m trying not to panic at the thought of having a serious heart condition that can’t easily be fixed. I still smile and try to keep my happy demeanor but deep inside I am terrified.
It was hell to adjust to being this disabled woman at 28…how will I adjust to a woman with a serious heart problem at 35? I’m suppose to start school in a few weeks to work on getting my bachelors in early childhood education. How am I going to do that if I have a bad heart? Should I put it off? I have all these things on my mind.
This will be my second brush with death in one year. The first was my car accident where I rolled my Ford Taurus and had to be cut out. I believe in signs. I wonder if this is a sign for me too. I’m not sure what it is trying to say however…
I’ve been through so much my entire life…I really have come a long way…and a part of me is very angry that this heart thing has shown up…I mean how much more am I going to have to go through…til it is time for me to have true continuing peace?
I was sexually abused as a child, I grew up with a schizophrenic mother, my first husband was abusive, I am a recovering opiate addict, I have been disabled since age 28, and I survived a roll over car accident.
I have overcome all of these things only to find myself faced with having a bad heart. I know that it is very possible my past drug usage and abuse might have brought on this heart condition. Not to mention I was a smoker for over 20 years…but when am I going to get a break?
Everyone around me tells me I am a pillar of strength and I amaze them. I feel real good about that. I have always wanted to change the world…I have always wanted to be someone important enough to save or change lives. I wanted to be the person that brightens others days by simply being me. I just don’t know how I am going to deal with a major heart problem if that is the case.
I worry this will be my tipping point. I am afraid this might be the straw that broke the camels back. Facing this heart situation has made me think about all the things I’ve done throughout my life that probably brought me to this point. It also has me thinking about how much more I want to do. I’m not finished. I’m not even close and a heart condition probably cuts off more of my time to do the things I want.
I know life isn’t always fair and bad shit happens to good people. I just wish I would be given a break. I am having a harder time each day enjoying what I should be enjoying. I’m tired all the time, hurt all over everyday, out of breath most of the time, and my heart hurts when it races. God what is your plan for me? What are you trying to move me towards or away? I need your help here…and I’m begging you to not put anymore on me because God I have no more strength. My endurance is gone.
I have been clean since 2006. I don’t drink but maybe twice a year. I don’t steal. I am a good mom to my girls. I am a faithful wife. I am a loyal friend. I am an honest person. I have asked forgiveness for my past sins against others. I help the less fortunate. I try to be a positive role model for those who surround me. I don’t know what else to do in order to have you give me a break. But tonight Lord I am asking you please….give me a break or this will break me.
Sick and tired all the time
Oh how I wish I could rewind
Or fast forward this show
give me somewhere to go…
where my heart is free
where my soul can sing
where I matter in the world
Here, it’s so cold
It numbs me whole
Making me the fool
trying to keep my cool
using me like a tool
life is so cruel
and I’m fucking sick of it.
I want to cut my vein
bring on the end
but loyalty keeps me in
like being bedridden with sin
Is this really who I was supposed to be?
A lonely soul
Living in pain everyday
What price must I pay?
This is all fucked up…
I no longer want to play…
this part of suffering
with loneliness that could shatter worlds
pushing me to look for salvation
in things that only kill the soul
a bottle of booze
a bottle of pills…
fighting everyday to be someone new
Why have I been forsaken?
in all the good I try to do…
It’s not good enough for you?
I’m not alone…but I’m alone
and I’m fucking sick of it…
for my children I will carry on
an empty vessel at sea
pretending to feel free
but being confined by pain
I’ve been forsaken
For reasons I don’t see
I fight the urge to go…
I’m fucking sick of it all…