It has been a long time since I had a good sense of who I am and who I want to be. Maybe since I was 11 years old. At age 11, I had hopes, dreams and innocence. I was idealistic and quietly confident. I had secure friendships that I trusted. I had my whole life ahead of me.
Over the last 15 years of my life, I have been used, abused, betrayed, mistreated and hurt. At various times my whole world has shattered leaving me in confused, broken pieces. I have endured periods of dark despair and helpless loneliness, when I doubted myself and almost lost complete hope in having a happy life and future. It was at these times, that my addiction began to grow and take over my life.
My first addiction took the form of an eating disorder when I was 16 years old. What started as simple, regular exercise quickly escalated into an obsessive, vigorous routine of multiple aerobics classes and skipping meals. I knew what I was doing was ultimately dangerous. But I couldn’t and wouldn’t stop what I was doing.
Looking back, I am able to recognise triggers that lead me to obsessive exercise and starving myself. My family was going through a really tough time. I didn’t understand what was happening and despite me asking and searching for answers, I found no truth. With my external life out of my control, I found it satisfying to control my weight.
However, as time wore on and more weight came off, my addiction took over.
I began experimenting with drugs when I was 16 or so. By the end of grade 10, I was going to parties and drinking on weekends. It wasn’t long until marijuana entered the party scene and I went along with it. During grades 11 and 12, I continued to smoke pot and drink, as well as using cream bulbs occasionally. It wasn’t until I returned to Brisbane after a year in England that I got into speed and ecstasy.
I found it really hard to settle back living in Brisbane after an exciting year of travel in Europe. I think I was always stoned for the first few weeks back — I judged Brisbane and my old friends to be boring and did whatever I could do to avoid my feelings.
For the last 7 years, I have experienced both highs and lows that I never imagined possible. I have lost numerous friendships and countless belongings. I have avoided my family and unconditional friends out of fear, guilt and shame. And at times of desperation, returned home sick and broken by hurt. In the process I lost myself.
Looking back, my life was completely consumed by drugs and utterly unmanageable. I developed behaviours that I despise to keep me safe, and compromised my beliefs and morals if it meant I could score. I became horribly dependant on speed. I was haunted by psychosis and feared life. I hated myself and my life.
I am now 5 months clean — the longest time I have been completely clean and sober in over 7 years. I am proud and happy to be in recovery and extremely grateful for the rehabilitation program.
Since being here and being clean, I have begun to feel and think for myself again. I am remembering what my values and beliefs were and redefining what they are now. I still struggle when asked, ‘who are you?’ I remain insecure describing myself. I fear judgements from others and feel uncomfortable with rejection or criticism. I desperately want to have complete faith in myself — like my affirmations say ‘I believe in myself’ and ‘I know I have the capacity to achieve everything I conceive of in my mind’.