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I’m Finally Ready to Address the Roots of My Anxiety and Substance Abuse

Editor's Note

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

Shame.

This is the emotion I feel as I type these first few sentences. It’s a conflicting feeling, because I would admire anyone in my shoes, coming forth to share their struggles. This is the first time in my life I have addressed my continuous battle. But I often have to ask myself, how did I get here? Why was I chosen to struggle each day, to battle inner demons? To face life as it comes, only to crumble. I’ve wallowed for years in this self-pity.

I have closed the book on most of my past life, not wanting to remember or reminisce through the good times and bad. I’ve thrown out all my yearbooks from high school. I’ve discarded most memories of past relationships and experiences, hating both who I was and what I have slowly become. I’ve let thoughts like these control my life. They’ve completely consumed me.

In no way do I practice religion. But surely, if there is a God, he never intended a person like me to suffer. I never had any broken childhood stories or traumatic experiences growing up. I had a wonderful upbringing, with an amazing family who gave me nothing but love and endless support.

How could anything be missing?

I have not talked about my past in so long, it feels like it was never there. But truthfully, I don’t believe there is any way to move forward unless you go back to where it all began.

Like I mentioned, my childhood was a dream. It wasn’t until I got into my teenage years that my mindset slowly began to change. It’s really hard for me to open up about this time in my life. Most will say that high school is the best years of your life. Yet, I had a very different experience.

I was different. I knew I was different at a very young age but it never came to light until people around me started to notice and viewed it negatively. I won’t put it lightly; I was bullied severely, called horrible names, given nasty titles. I had things thrown at me, written about me. Things you usually only see in the movies. Every day, those experiences chipped away at me, and pretty soon I dreaded going anywhere near that building. I didn’t realize at the time, but the stigma toward mental health kept everything bottled up inside of me. I tried to hold my head high. I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t cry about it in front of anyone. I just took the abuse, and I took it to heart.

Eventually, your heart grows cold.

I started smoking pot regularly. It was easy. It was an escape. It became chronic and abusive, which later led to other substances. I hear the classic term, “it’s natural,” and “it’s just weed,” but it eventually led me into a bout of severe depression. I no longer gave a sh*t about my attitude and outlook on life. I had no goals, no motivation. I alienated myself from my family. I developed toxic friendships, even long into my 20s. My confidence did not exist. I became selfish, insecure, and verbally abusive to both myself and others. This eventually led to failed relationships, friendships and substance abuse.

Most importantly, I didn’t care about my feelings anymore. All I wanted to do was numb them, and that I did, and would continue to do so for years and years, which eventually led to more difficult struggles. Struggles I slowly need to address.

The moral of the story is, these experiences in my younger years seem so minimal now that they’ve come and gone, but it paved the way to darkness because I simply have never dealt with it. I’ve continued the same old pattern, tried the same old toxic remedies, and only spun in circles. I’ve never moved forward. It molded the attitude I treated every situation with. And it eventually led me here to The Mighty, amongst friends with similar struggles. Support I didn’t even know I had until tonight.

Writing is a passion I have really wanted to explore and develop for myself. This will be the first of many stories, as I work through my struggles, address my issues and accept the help I need to obtain a clear and healthy mind and body.

The first step is accepting who we are and knowing that no matter the severity of the struggle, it matters. It’s important to remember that.

I was diagnosed with depression in 2006. As well, I live with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I currently have a problem with substance abuse. I am a chronic cannabis user and I abuse alcohol regularly. I have abused other substances as well, in excess. I was prescribed medications for my mental health issues as recent as two years ago. I struggle often with sleep paralysis, nightmares and low sex drive because of this medication. But I can no longer let this define me. It has defined me for most of my life.

Emotionally, this has been a difficult story to write. But it’s a part of me, and a part of my healing. I hope it inspires others to dig deep and address the roots of your pain. Don’t bottle it up. Don’t hold it in. Don’t try to hide it by being the most f*cked up person in the room. Otherwise, that monster inside of you just keeps growing. Find the strength to start healing. Every step counts.

Sincerely,

H.

Photo by Kyle Ellefson on Unsplash

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