Growing up when seeking mental health help was still looked down upon, in a family where those REAL talks weren’t happening, made way for real problems to occur.
I was dutiful, responsible, smart, and had the brightest of futures ahead of me. Murders didn’t happen like this in rural Pennsylvania. Three days earlier the victim and I were carpooling to Penn State, Altoona. We grew up together. My best friends were even closer. Three days missing and she was found murdered in the trunk of her car. This was the real start of my descent.
I spent forever after this, holding up every person that I loved that had gone through something traumatic… forgetting I continued to hold onto that load and needed help. Getting professional help in this closed-minded dying railroad town can be so deadly to your whole family’s standing. So, substance literally was my only valid option.
I started with cannabis, alcohol and grew to blizzard (bath salts), then pills leading to heroin to the laced fentanyl. Opiates numbed it all. Made me feel okay. I believed I did my best in the chaos, one of those false beliefs in active addiction. I know I had family that knowingly enabled me. I’ve stolen money and drugs. I’ve been in unhealthy and severely abusive relationships. I’ve slept in sketchy places.
I have overdosed three times. The last two are my sobriety makers. For both of those two I ended up on life support. Hospice had been brought up. This is where I KNEW, like really, really knew the power of music when my best friend blasted songs from Promise of Redemption in the ICU and soon, I gained strength. Music is my higher power and has been since.
My second time on life support was due to a hot shot from someone I thought was a friend and I was giving a place to stay. I ended up with anoxia and a tracheotomy. I woke up to a tube coming from my throat while a nurse came in with surgical scissors. Thanksgiving and my birthday missed. I was alive. I was grateful. I was done.
I got serious about my mental health. This included the major steps in sobriety, doing outpatient therapy for drug & alcohol with the counselor I was comfortable with, and being honest and real and accountable. I shut myself off from so many people and lived in my parents’ basement.
I fought for every part of my life. I blame only myself, but in a way that strengthens me. I have so many mental, physical, and neurological issues so far from what I put myself through. However! Right now, my boyfriend and I have his two children. We kind of broke Fred from their own seriously abusive and traumatic home life with mom. I am in love with life and changing these kids’ lives, so they don’t feel like they need to live what I thought I had to.
All I want from the rest of my life is to make a difference, to make my mess my message. I want to make my story of trauma and hope, so that someone finds help and support.
Story by Christine Orr