By: Mandee Hochins
Most people who know me – don’t know that I am a former addict.
I am not the stereotypical underweight, disheveled woman. I am a mother. I am a partner. I am an employee, a daughter, a granddaughter, and an aunt.
My life has always been divided with a little bit of chaos. From a child in a dysfunctional household trying to combat social anxieties to growing up trying to break out of a cycle of abuse and an imbalance of power.
Years later – I am finally getting there. Sometimes, people have this misconception that as soon as you stop using, you start seeing more clearly, you make better decisions, you can function at a “normal” pace again, but that just isn’t true.
Recovery is a long and eye-opening journey. It’s not an easy feat. It’s like my mother describing walking to school as a child, “uphill and downhill both ways in the middle of winter with no shoes on.”
In my case, I had grown used to a toxic environment, the chaos of everything falling apart – but somehow holding itself together like cheap popsicle sticks. I was in an abusive relationship with a man who was an addict. I did not realize that it was only a matter of time before my interest would peak.
My first time was like fireworks. Everything felt brighter, more vivid, I felt content for the first time in my life. I wasn’t worried about anything.
I remember thinking, “Okay, I get paid on this day, and I’ll spend X amount on groceries and have X amount leftover to get high” Responsibilities didn’t stop me. It turned into, “Okay, I’ll spend X amount to get high and I’ll have X amount leftover for food,”
As time went on, even basic necessities like food or even change for the bus wasn’t an expense I could afford.
I hit my rock bottom. I lost everything. My house, I’d left my job, I sold all of my things. I had nothing left to show for the life I’d worked towards. I even started to bounce around – couch surf from place to place, whoever was able to help me out.
I consider myself grateful that it was only a short period of time during my addiction until I had spiraled emotionally, which left me feeling suicidal and desperate. I packed what little I had left, I moved. I took a huge leap with an even bigger risk. I had no plan. No idea what I was going to do for money, where exactly I was going but I knew I had to pull myself out of this slump.
I now recognize how important mental health is. It is important to take care of your mind as well as your body. Lean on someone that you need for support, even if they don’t completely understand – there will be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, even if you feel like you are alone in this right now.
Your biggest strength is you. Your courage, your strengths. Your addiction does not define you. You define you.
If you are struggling with addiction, reach out to someone. Whether it be a friend, family member or a professional. For every one person who may judge you, there are 10 who will support you.
With courage you can move mountains and there is beauty in strength.
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