Today is a day my family and I thought I’d never see.
Today I was accepted into university to begin my Bachelor of Science, and I will be majoring in Psychology. The photo on the left is me last week. I’ve just finished my certification as a Mental Heath and Addiction Support Worker. In the photo I am on the way to my class’s graduation celebration dinner.
Addiction to opiates
The photo on the right, from three years ago, was during one of my many, many rock bottoms. I had been in active addiction to class A drugs for nearly ten years, and I had serious addictions to opiates, and later, amphetamines. I was on the methadone program for nearly three years. Living a life of crime, I was homeless at times and spent my 21st birthday in prison. You name it I’ve done it/ been there.
As a young teen, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and had body dysmorphia, although I didn’t know the medical name of it till recent years. I toyed with the concept of eating disorders during this time but never went to hospital. I had terrible circulation and was extremely anaemic as a result of my self-inflicted malnutrition.
Borderline personality disorder also goes hand in hand with self-harming. I had been self-harming since about thirteen or fourteen, and continued to for the next eleven or so years. Another common borderline personality disorder characteristic is impulsivity, which often leads to making some pretty spontaneous and crazy decisions. The average seventeen year old doesn’t think, “Today I’m fighting with my boyfriend – fuck this, I’m going to go try a shot of heroin.” I did.
In 2011 I spent twelve weeks in a private drug rehabilitation facility, detoxing off methadone and benzodiazepines. I had finally had enough of the ‘lifestyle’ I’d led for many years.
That same year I learnt of Methamphetamine and found myself cross-addicting. As usual, I didn’t do anything by halves. By October that year I was hospitalised for extreme dehydration and malnutrition, and I was presenting early warning signs of psychosis. I had gone from sixty five kilos to forty five in under six months.
I continued using Methamphetamine for almost two years. In hindsight, Methamphetamine addiction made my opiate days seem like a walk in the park. I need to add that my intravenous opiate addiction was costing up to eight hundred dollars a day at its worst.
I wasn’t using a lot of Methamphetamine, but I was using every day and not sleeping or eating, something very new to me after spending the last seven years practically asleep. Eventually psychosis became full blown, taking my mind to the most terrifying and darkest places I’d ever been to. I’d still take homelessness or prison over that experience, any day.
Recovery and success
To cut a long story short, I chose to get clean and embrace life rather than hide from it. Three years later I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a qualified Support Worker and now I’m a University Psychology student.
I am where I am today due to my resilience, determination and willpower in wanting to overcome my past. Today I’ve done that.
And, as Ellen says, “Be kind to one another.”