The Power of Addiction

“One of the hardest lessons I learned was that I was worth recovery.”

Demi Lovato

The term addiction is not a one size fits all kind of term, which is why many people need multiple rounds of treatment in order to truly begin sobriety.

For some, their addiction may be to a chemical or drug. This would be considered a substance dependence.

For others, their addiction may be gambling or eating. This would be a behavioral addiction.

Either way, addiction at its root is defined as “is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.” *

Those who are caught in the midst of addiction struggle on a daily basis with overcoming the demons that got them there in the first place. Most people start voluntarily, but each time it becomes harder and harder to overcome the physical and mental pull addiction has. Self-control slowly diminishes as the person tries to “medicate” their body. The power of addiction is so strong that it is a leading cause of death in our country.

Addiction is like that friend you wish you never had. It gave you what you thought you wanted and then began to take everything from you.

The key to recovery is wanting it, and wanting it more than your addiction. Sometimes that can take years. Or other times, one addiction can manifest into another.

I am one of those people who struggle with an addictive personality. While I might recover from one addiction, I often find another to take its place – especially in times of distress.

The addictive pattern started in the form of cutting when I was a young 13 years old. I thought if I could take that pain I was feeling and put it somewhere else like in a physical wound, it would make more sense to me. This distorted thinking lasted for a while. Working with a therapist, I was able to stop and found other healthy ways to manage my stress.

However, shortly after, while trying to loss a few pounds, I got stuck in that addictive mindset again and a full blown eating disorder shortly followed.

Each time I tried to recover from one addiction, another one set in. Many people do not know the full extent I suffered because I have never disclosed it.

If I were to map out my addictions, it would look something like this:
13 yrs old – Cutting
16 yrs old – Anorexia
18 yrs old – Bulimia
21 yrs old – Drinking
28 yrs old – Physical Self-Harm and Pills
29 yrs old – Binge Eating

Looking back at this timeline, it is disturbing for me. It makes me feel horrible, which is generally what most recovering addicts feel while in recovery. It is almost like a cycle. The guilt can be consuming, which makes you want to go back to what soothed you.

The key is positive and factual self-talk – reminding yourself that the future is a blank slate and that you are in control. Yes, it might be an everyday struggle for a while – and it is definitely easier said than done. But, just like in real life – boundaries can be set.

You need to know you are worth recovery. You are worth a life beyond addiction. While this can be a hard fact to digest, saying it outloud and matter of fact, can actually fight those inner demons telling you “you are worthless.”

The power of addiction will always try to pull the person back into its cycle. It is a long journey, but it is not hopeless. A lot of organizations can help. If you or someone you know is struggling, please know help is available.


*Medical News Today, “What is Addiction?”

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Anniversary of My Suicide Attempt

The semicolon project: my life could have stopped, but I continued on.

Exactly seventeen years ago, I attempted to take my own life. I don’t talk about it much because I don’t like to remember that day or the events after it. In actuality, I think part of my psyche has blocked it from my memory because I only remember bits and pieces.

I was thirteen. I remember the pain I felt; deep, intense, hopeless. I felt alone. Yet, when I went into the inpatient/outpatient programs, everyone just looked at me and said “You don’t belong here.” It wasn’t out of malice, even though it may sound like it. All the other teenagers around me had severely broken childhoods and families that really did not give a damn. And there I was – with two parents who loved me and who tried to give me the best life possible. It pains me to think of it because the guilt I felt was tremendous. “I didn’t deserve to feel pain”, I thought.

But the truth? Everyone is entitled to their emotions. We cannot compare circumstances. It does no good and it does not solve the problem.

While I did not have a broken family, I had a severe chemical imbalance – most of which I contribute to getting my menstrual cycle early. My body was developing fast, but my surroundings were not and my brain was still one of a thirteen-year-old. I would get conflicted as to how I should be feeling and what I actually was feeling.

In addition, the meds I was put on for my depression and anxiety were not handled properly. The doctor started me off on a high dose and then did not monitor it. My parents did not know any better. After all, they trusted the doctor.

To this day, I remember my dad’s face when he found out I overdosed on pain medication. I stayed home that day because I needed a mental break from school. I felt so alone with my feelings that I just broke – I grabbed the bottle without thinking and continued to shove the pills down my throat. My dad knew I did something. He kept asking, “What did you do? What did you do?” I don’t remember what tipped him off honestly, but he knew. I was honest. Then he called 911.

The cops showed up with an ambulance. I was so scared. I was crying. “I’m fine! I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. Please don’t take me away.” I just wanted them to go away.

Once at the hospital, they pumped my stomach full of charcoal. I met with some doctors who I tried to convince “I WAS FINE”. But since I had made an attempt, I had to be inpatient for a couple days.

Those days were filled with the scariest moments I had seen yet being only thirteen. I was trying to understand my emotions, while also be frightened into seeing the worst of the worst situations. To give you an idea – someone smashed their head through a glass panel on a door in an attempt to end their life.

I wouldn’t understand this experience until much later in life. I never wanted to end my life. I wanted the pain to stop. I wanted to understand my feelings and how to feel better.

Since I refused to deal with it, those emotions just fostered into an eating disorder three years later. I used food as a cop out to control the emotions I felt were out of control.

Now almost two decades later, I have completely done a 180. I’m so glad I failed that day because I had so much to accomplish that God was planning for me. I look at my struggles with mental health as a time that made me stronger and more understanding. I am now able to help others with my story and encourage them to keep fighting. It is no walk in the park; it takes time, dedication, continual therapy, and patience. BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT. I truly believe we were each created for something special. Sometimes it takes others longer to find it and that’s okay. We each bloom at our own time.

When you feel at your lowest, remember me as an example to keep fighting. You have no idea what God has in store for you and whose life you will one day impact. I’m in your corner.

If you or something you know is suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Help is available.


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The Holidays Without a Loved One

“Those we love never truly leave us. There are things death cannot touch.”Jack Thorne

Rewind time back to 2010 – the year my dad died and the first set of holidays without him by our side. Each day that passed was challenging, let alone a group of holidays which seemed so empty. My dad was a staple of the these special family days, especially Christmas. Some of the things I remember are the massive breakfasts he would make Christmas morning, as well as him setting up the video recorder the night before to tape us unwrapping each of our gifts.

These are memories that will never fade. Cancer cannot take these memories from me, like it took my dad. But, sometimes these memories, can hurt and be debilitating because they are just that – memories. I cannot go hug my dad Christmas morning and thank him for everything he has done. And this – no matter how many years go by – is still hard to overcome. The emptiness never fully goes away. It is just something you learn to manage.

It took years to get here but now I try to picture my dad here at Christmas, just in a different form. I see him sitting in the living room with a huge smile on his face watching us with joy. While we cannot communicate or hold each other, he nods to us acknowledging his presence. He is now an angel that overlooks us, keeping us safe and together. He would be so proud of how far we have all come.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one this year, check on them – call them, send them a letter, text them a simple “love you!” message. Most likely they are not okay. It takes years to learn how to manage that emptiness.

If you are the one who lost someone, whether it was this year or not, it is important to acknowledge how you feel and then do something about it. Celebrate your loved one in a way that will be healing to you. I went to visit my dad’s grave and I also wrote letters to him. Maybe you make a special ornament or you plant a tree in their honor. Whatever it is, make it memorable and don’t be afraid to say you need support. It is okay to hurt, just don’t let it consume you. Your loved one would not want that for you.

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