Because sometimes flaws should be celebrated…

Stones,

I am proud to announce that as of January 17th, 2020, I have been clean from narcotics for 4 years. I got my 4-year chip. It’s a grudge match every day to make the decision to stay clean. That’s why addicts are always addicts. Some are active and others are in recovery.

I began abusing narcotics when I was 12 years old. I have a lot of chronic pain conditions and in the early 2000s, doctors weren’t as diligent about giving Oxycodone and Percocets to a minor as they are now.

Anyone who says that addiction is a “choice” has no understanding of human nature.

I do not say this as an insult. I do not say this to attack anyone. I say this as pure fact. No one wakes up thinking, “You know what, life is going way too easy. Let me try [insert drug of choice here].” That’s not how it works. People use drugs to numb pain, plain and simple. There was a lot going on in my life at that time. A lot of abuse, sexual assault, bullying, and then, of course, the normal troubles that come with being a preteen. I could not cope. I began self-harming and knew how to hide it. Before the obvious is suggested, therapy wasn’t an option at the time.

When going through all that physical and emotional and mental pain, it became impossible to differentiate between was physical and what wasn’t. Eventually, it all just melted together and the emotional pain became physical. Simply put, I was always in a lot of pain. Eventually, after seeing so many doctors and being a bit on the advanced side, I learned how to finesse doctors out of the good stuff. Dilaudid was absolutely amazing and made everything go away and being numb was the ultimate goal. Luckily, I’m allergic to Morphine or I’d probably be addicted to Heroine.

Things got a bit trickier when the side effects of the pain medications led to the prescription of Benzodiazepines. So now I’m cross buzzed reaching dangerous levels of numbness and an ever-building tolerance is developing faster than I can manipulate a doctor out of my favorite candy. The pressure began to build when I began my mental health journey and got more prescriptions for more complex benzos, the dosage changing every two weeks. Who was I to refuse?

In 2014, I admitted to myself that I had a problem and tried to get help. As a struggling addict, I knew to ask for help. However, as a struggling addict, I was not prepared to turn down 120, 1-milligram tablets of Ativan prescribed to me by a negligent, arrogant new psychiatrist. Then I overdosed on Ativan and tried to stay away. August 24, 2014, I tried to kill myself and I thought things would get better because I thought that was my rock bottom. And then life got harder.

So I’d continue this pattern of starting and stopping until 2016. I was with this man that I loved, and I thought loved me. But he was abusive, mentally ill, and an addict. He didn’t want to get better. I wanted to get better I also wanted to be with him and unfortunately, those two things could never be mutually exclusive. Because I was born with crippling soul-crushing anxiety, I always did what would be considered “downers”. I, to this day, can’t comprehend people who do amphetamines. Who wants to be that high?

My husband at the time loved what would be considered “uppers”. Crack, coke, bath salts, things of that nature. He and another friend of mine would get together and toss back ten Ritalin pills each and then snort five more. (Snorting: another thing I don’t comprehend). As the peer pressure mounted, I gave and tried. They did ten so I figure I could do it too. Why not, right? This was the absolute best and worse decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I could not sleep for three full days. My heart was humming like a motor, on steroids. I was sweating profusely, rocking back in forth praying for sleep, wondering why the carpet was moving like an ocean. I ended up being hospitalized for amphetamine-induced psychosis. It was bad, but I’ve been clean ever since. Not saying I haven’t been tempted, but I never want to feel like that ever again. Being numb works for a while, but no one can thrive numbly. They can’t even really survive. They just exist in a familiar nothingness.

My call to action

Celebrate the small wins. The small feats that occur every day. We are not perfect. Perfection does not exist. Let us strive for progress, the more attainable and rewarding. Every day won’t be perfect, but the possibility of progress should make it worth it. That’s all for now.

Exist and Bleed,

S. Hollisway

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