From Having an Addiction to Having a Prescription

CW: drug use, self harm, overdose, mental health

When I was 16 I used prescription meds recklessly to numb myself out to the world. I was in love with downers, and found myself craving them more than sex. (A feat which was startling at that age.)

I eventually gave up that usage and lifestyle, after several revelations. After seeing my mother cry as I blacked in and out of consciousness at the kitchen table. After finding the list of doctors and therapists she looked up for me, and throwing it in the trash. After losing my supplier to an overdose. A supplier that had once been my old friend, who I began seeing as a complex enemy when he didn’t pay me back money he owed me over drugs. After seeing my other friend drooling over a school desk with her sleeves bloody from cutting her wrists in the bathroom. And still having to cover for her during a class potluck by feeding her chips and hoping she wouldn’t choke.

I decided to quit, to free myself from being the self-proclaimed “pill popper” I consider myself. And it was rough. I realized that I had heightened my anxiety I was already living with, and that I now had nowhere to hide. (Besides alcohol and weed and risky-ass sexual attachments.)

From that period of time onward I would grow suspicious of my use of any medication. I would catch myself taking excesses of any pharmaceuticals I was prescribed, even though none would give me the fully numb feeling that I was craving.

So I tightened down harder on myself. I restricted myself from taking any medications more than needed. I even kept myself from taking painkillers that were easy and over the counter. I didn’t want to become someone I couldn’t trust.

I even quit 2 jobs over pills.

I was a medication manager at a group home and found myself serving the same downers I had lusted over, to clients. Every week. And I found myself wondering and wishing I could craft a way to justify getting my hands on them for myself. So I quit.

At another job this year my sleep schedule became wrecked, and I realized I would need medication in order to sleep…and felt terrified. I suddenly felt all of my suspicions coming true as my fear of medications crystalized into a fear of self, a fear of my inability to control myself.

And once I embraced that fear, I began the journey of quitting that job and looking out for myself. Looking out not only for who I suspected myself to be, but for who I wanted to be.

I had tried quitting weed, alcohol, and caffeine at different points in my life to prove that I had the willpower to resist substances. Alcohol already made me sick from how many times I had been assaulted while drunk, and it was difficult for me to smoke once without wanting to smoke the rest of the day/week away. Caffeine made me feel more alive but also made me feel like I was crawling out of my own skin with anxiety…

I would go months with only one substance at a time, and found that I was able to handle it more and more each year…. so I decided to quit them all at the same time. And see what was really lurking beneath all of the substances in my subconscious.

I sunk straight to the bottom.

I found myself facing the fact that all of my demons had finally caught up to me, and that there was nothing to muffle them anymore. I couldn’t sleep, and my paranoia became heightened. My PTSD became unbearable, and I became irritable. Finding any and everything a threat to myself and my loved ones- I couldn’t de-activate my hypersensitivity. It was me, and only me, in my head, and I couldn’t handle it anymore.

(This was also intensified by external environmental factors that were incredibly triggering and ridiculously harsh.)

So I finally made an appointment, barely holding on to the hope that I would be okay with the decision I was about to make… And did two intakes back to back.

I told both the doctor and the therapist about my internal conflict with getting medication for my PTSD and anxiety, and how my sleeping patterns had become nonexistent. I told them how I worried about my ability to control myself and not take all of one prescription at once, my ability to misuse any drug…and my perceived inability to say no if one was prescribed.

I realized as I spoke about my fears that I had also internalized many of the things people had told me over the years- that I was wicked, cruel, manipulative, and bad. That I was a bad person who did bad things.

They validated my fears and commended me on my trials, errors and triumphs in quitting substances and making decisions to lessen my suffering. They underlined how far I had come in what I described to them about my seasons of sobriety. They listened compassionately, calmed my worried, and prescribed me an SSRI.

It’s been 4 months on my new prescription, and it’s something I never thought I’d be able to have, or handle.

I always thought that I was undeserving of medication for something that I “brought on myself” through experimenting and self-prescribing. I thought that because I had mistreated medications before, that I would never be capable of utilizing them for my own good – only for my own demise.

I thought that I would be weak not only because I needed medication for my mental health, but because I would be unable to take it because of my past.

But I was wrong, and I feel more right-side-up than I have in a very long time.

I am slowly becoming able to regularly sleep. The daily night terrors have lessened, traffic doesn’t make me feel like death is seconds away. I don’t fear every sound that I can’t locate, and I am finally able to handle conversations without flaring into a destructive ball of aggression.

The past four months have been an adjustment, but I have found myself more functional and less frustrated with my mental state and surroundings than I ever have been. And I’ve found myself disinterested in abusing the prescription I now have, for anything.

I’ve realized that much of my fear of myself had become ingrained in who I was repeatedly told I was, internally and externally. And I had begun embodying that to the point where I believed I deserved to suffer mentally as a karmic righting of my youthful decisions.

But it’s not true at all. I have changed drastically, and have been putting in the work for years to be able to be someone other than who I have been.

I am not a wicked deceptive person, regardless of what my addictions have told me. I am a person who has learned to survive life and emotions and traumatic events through whatever means possible. And now I am at the point where I can re-introduce those old fears to the new, developed me of the present.

The me who takes their daily prescription and doesn’t irrationally spin into a fight or flight mindset at the slightest sound or comment. The me that breathes slowly and deeply in traffic to quell the mental images of my body flipping in my car again. The me that observes from a distance in social situations where I have otherwise been harmed.

The me that deserves help.

It’s still a process and a journey, and I can’t keep the world from hurting me- but now I can control how I respond to that hurt. And it’s damn liberating.

I hope you believe in the goodness in yourself, regardless of who you’ve been. I hope you find the resources and support you need to become who you know you are.

I hope you survive the fires, and find yourself in a peaceful stream.

And I hope you find the ability to believe you deserve to be there.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

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