Monday, 1 July 2013

Addiction & Mental Illness: Part Two

*Warning: contains graphic descriptions and triggers*

...After spending years trying to pin all my happiness on my husband and stepsons, I was coming to the realisation that I was a shell of a human being. To keep myself from having time to think about the void in my soul, I kept busy. Really really busy. I worked a forty hours plus a week job. I had decided to go back to college and attended classes four nights a week. I had loads of homework. And I was raising two teenage boys. All the while my husband was working eighty hours a week and was having to go on business trips more and more frequently. To top it all off, we had taken in my father-in-law who had complicated medical issues.

I begged my husband for months into years to cut back at work. I needed more of him. Our marriage was crumbling. The love and caring was there, but the marriage suffered greatly. Looking back, I realise now spending more time with me wasn't going to solve my problems. He had married a character I created and I no longer knew how to play that part. It wasn't his fault or mine. It was the illness inside me that was taking over.

As the emptiness grew, so did the depression. Sleep cycles became erratic. Mood swings ran rampant. Food lost its taste. Everything was dull and grey. I would spend hours staring out a window contemplating how to end it all. My work suffered. My marriage suffered. And I suffered. I eventually had a breakdown at work and was found near catatonic on the bathroom floor crying hysterically. Next thing I knew, I was being checked into an institution. Again. After a couple weeks, I was back home but I still couldn't function and a few months later, I was back in the hospital.

I was so afraid of everything. The questions and thoughts blazing through my head dizzied me. I was cycling through manic episodes at lightning speed. In my haze, I found myself charmed by a fellow patient. I didn't know it, but I was about to delve into a world you can only imagine in your worst nightmares.

This patient, lets call him Daniel, related to me, wooed me, brainwashed me. Next thing I knew, my husband and I were separated and I was following Daniel halfway across the country. I convinced myself he loved me and on some level I think he did. But Daniel was an addict. Not an occasional drug user, but a full fledged addict. He would disappear in the middle of the night with my car and money and wouldn't come back for hours and sometimes days. In my warped state of mind, I decided that if I did the drugs with him, I could control when and how much we did. We were smoking crack, lots of it. It didn't take long before the drug took over my life, along with my cocktail of prescription psychiatric meds. My reality was askew. I couldn't quit and didn't want to quit. When I wasn't high, the pain, guilt, and shame was overwhelming, so I stayed high at all costs. I would beg on street corners for money to feed my habit, and in some cases, even worse. We bounced from place to place, taking what we could from whoever would help us, running from dealers we ripped off, sleeping in back alleys and abandoned buildings, hitch hiking all over the southeast US.

All the while my family and friends were slowly giving up on me. The help I was given I didn't appreciate. The only thing that mattered was killing the enormous pain inside me. I couldn't stand what I had become, I had to stay high or thoughts of suicide took over. I engaged in self harm to punish myself, to bleed the pain out, to see if I was still alive. I was in and out of hospitals with several suicide attempts. No one answered the phone when I called. I had nothing. I was nothing. Even Daniel had abandoned me. Over the course of three years, I went from being a wife, stepmom, daughter, sister, etcetera to a homeless drug addict.

Daniel was attempting to get his life together and I was dragging him down. I begged him to help me, but he was angry with me. Somehow he blamed me for everything bad in his life. He finally agreed to help me, but there was a price to pay. I somehow convinced my estranged husband to buy me a bus ticket to where Daniel was living in New Orleans. Daniel said he was going to help me get a job and place to live. What he actually had in mind was unthinkable. He spent three days beating me, raping me, torturing me. Breaking me. And he did. I was broken. I was at rock bottom.

I decided my only option was to beg my mother for help one last time. She begrudgingly agreed and so I was on a bus back home to Ohio. This was it. This was my last chance at help. My last chance to live...