In 2010 I started experiencing debilitating abdominal pain. I was hospitalized a couple of times, and eventually diagnosed with endometriosis, a very painful condition that many females live with. The doctors prescribed me hydrocodone to control my pain. Eventually the pain got so intense I needed several surgeries, and I was on a combination of hydrocodone, oxycodone, and tramadol for a straight two years. When the pain pills ran out within a couple of days, I started to feel very depressed and flu like symptoms began.
My twin sister was the one who told me that it was in fact withdrawal symptoms that I was experiencing. Each day I felt worse. During that same time my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and he had oxycodone. So, I just thought to myself I will just go get a few pills to hold me over for the next few days, and then I will be fine. Well, that one trip turned into 4 years of me going to his house to steal pills from him. It got to the point that the pills were all I thought about. I would look at that little pill and couldn’t believe that it had total control over my entire life. It was exhausting!! I was constantly counting pills to get a plan on how I was going to get more to get through the days. It affected my kids, and my husband’s well-being.
On days that I was running low on them I would be so irritable and on edge, I hated myself. I wanted help so bad, but I was so ashamed of myself. How did I let this happen? Oh my god I am a drug addict! The shame and fear of being judged was so high that I almost lost my life in 2014. My kids would have been left without their mom because of the stigma attached to this. I surrendered to God and cried out for help. I promised him that if he would give me the courage and strength to ask for help, I would never do this again. I googled opiate addiction help and called the first place that popped up. I started treatment the next day. It was so hard walking into that clinic for the first time, but I also felt so relieved.
My mission is to change the stigma around addiction and mental health. My biggest fear was people finding out my secret, but through this recovery process, I have learned to love myself and have realized that this disease that I battle doesn’t define me as a person. I am sharing my story to give others hope and to be a testimony that recovery is possible. One-step, one day, one pivot at a time. I also hope to get the message out there that relapsing is part of the recovery process. You use that relapse as an opportunity to understand why you relapsed, give yourself the grace and self-love that you deserve, so that you can grow and become stronger. Also, by sharing my story publicly it took away the power of this little secret I have carried for the last several years. Sharing it takes away all the power it had over me, and I now feel free and proud of my journey.
Story by Dominique Velasquez