The Cloud of Depression

There is this cloud that hovers over me at times. It comes out of nowhere, a blob of darkness filled with feelings of emptiness and a cacophony of horrible insults aimed directly towards me. It follows me, penetrating my thoughts with lies that I find myself believing. What’s the point, Nicole? You’re not going to get anywhere. You are worthless. Give up. 

My body feels weak and heavy as the cloud hangs over me. All I want to do is sleep & cry, cry & sleep. I am filled with hopelessness & pain. I lay there in my bed, begging for it to go away, to leave me alone. Make it stop. But it won’t stop. It won’t go away. I don’t know where it comes from. It comes out of nowhere. I can be feeling extremely excited or happy about something & then boom, just like that, those feelings are replaced with shame and depression.

It makes me not want to move or do anything. It renders me paralyzed, motionless. I no longer want to talk to people or to be touched. I get angry when someone asks me what’s wrong, or those gut wrenching questions like, “Why are you feeling this way?” I don’t know why I am feeling this way! If I knew, I could probably fix it! The thought of eating something is unbearably disgusting to me. I feel trapped, unable to get away. My head aches & pounds. It consumes me. I feel alone, even though I know I am not really alone, that there are thousands of people that experience the same thing on a daily basis. Knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

I don’t have any advice for you in this post, any words of wisdom to make any of it go away. That cloud, that horrible & ugly cloud just keeps coming back.

That, in itself, terrifies me. 

 

Dear, Drugs.

Dear drugs,

You never loved me. You constantly left me on the verge of collapse, ripping at my soul, tearing out my heart. You were terror in a syringe, masked by the feeling of “escape” that you gave me. You lied to me, that’s all you ever did.

You never cared about me. You made me sick, riddled by cold sweats and constant nausea, paranoia and disgust. In the dead of the night, I clawed at my skin. I wanted to get away from you so badly. There were times when I thought that I had finally gotten rid of you, but the bruises that marked my arms reminded me that you weren’t gone. You were never gone. You were always there.

You took my daughter from me. You took my family away. You made me lie to the people that I loved, you made me steal things from people who trusted me. I looked in the mirror and there was nothing left of me but you; you & your empty promises, your sick game that you make millions of people play.

You stole my happiness, you ripped it away from me. I was nothing anymore, void of compassion, unable to feel guilt or empathy. You consumed me until I was nothing but bones peeking out from underneath cold, pale skin & all I craved was you. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I couldn’t live.

But the best part about all of this, my old friend, is that I won. Now it’s you that is nothing. I am three years free of you & I have never felt better. I am strong. I am alive.

I am more than you will ever be.

 

For the Recovering Addict…

They say that everything heals with time. They say that the pain gets more bearable & things get easier. But lately, I feel like my heart is on fire & my soul is under attack. The things that I have done, the people that I have lost, the fear & the anxiety that continuously plague my life; it feels like it never stops. There are days where I can say that it isn’t that bad, that the trauma I put myself through is something that I can deal with, something I can handle. Then, there are the days where I wake up dreary eyed & filled with unfathomable sadness. I drag my feet to the bathroom, my stomach lurches & aches, & horrible recollections begin pulsing through my brain. Over & over again.

It was supposed to get better with time. It has been almost three years. Life was supposed to get easier. I’m sober, for God’s sake! Isn’t that good enough?

The reality of all this, the painful realization that has embedded itself into my brain, is that it doesn’t get any easier. It gets harder. In active addiction, you learn how to mask the emotions & the feelings through drug & alcohol use. You numb yourself to the point where nothing really hurts you anymore. You’re just there, barely living, & your body & psyche adapt to it. You don’t really have to deal with all the hurt in your life because the chemicals do it for you. Take those chemicals away & there is nothing left but you. So you have to learn how to handle it. You have to pick yourself up & fight through the things that you didn’t want to fight through before. I know, It sucks. I’ve been doing it for going on three years now.

It’s not easy, but I think that’s where the beauty of it all lies. The beauty of recovery is where your unacknowledged pain is, where your forgotten sorrow lives. You can either take those traumatic elements & use them to shape yourself into a better you, or you can leave them there. You can leave them there & ignore them, until they come back up & next thing you know, you’re using again. Deal with what you need to deal with & keep fighting, because it’s worth it. You are worth it.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you or says about you. What matters is what lives within your heart & what you think and say about yourself. That’s what is most important. Look around you & make a mental list of the things that you are grateful for today. Remember how painful it would be to lose it all. Addiction is life or death, it’s shown its ugly face time & time again. It has taken valuable people in society.

Don’t let addiction win. It’s your choice.

 

Do It Because You Have To

I remember that night so vividly. I hope that I never forget it, because forgetting means losing sight of where I’ve been & how far I’ve come. I was on my way to a year long rehab & I was terrified. My bags were packed neatly beside me, my little girl in the backseat, my mother driving. I remember the way my hands shook when I got out of the car, the cold winter air hitting my cheeks. I remember the sound of the snow underneath my boots & the way my daughter’s hand felt clamped tightly to mine as I approached the back door. The old brick building loomed over me. I wanted to go home. I can still hear my mother’s voice behind me, her lips breathing out words of freedom and “becoming a new me.”

The people there greeted me with smiles of hope & encouragement, the director of the program ushering us in as she introduced herself. I took a seat in her office & closed my eyes. I didn’t want to be there. I looked down at my little girl, mustering up the energy to smile at her. Her face was twisted into an uneasy stare. “I’ve let her down too many times, I need to do this for her. If not for me, then for her. I can’t be scared.” I told myself this over & over again until my lips stopped quivering.

After I had been checked in & every inch of my belongings had been searched, I was shown the room that I was supposed to be staying in. A staff member introduced me to the other women who were going to be in the program with me. Every part of my innermost being urged me to run away, but I had been running away for far too long. It needed to stop.

I was told to say my goodbyes to my daughter, that I was not going to see her for another two weeks. My knees began to buckle as I knelt down to her level. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain that came when the word goodbye left my lips. Nothing could have prepared me for the way her little face looked after she realized I was leaving again. But I had to do this. I had to stay at this place for a year & I had to stay sober. This was my last chance & it terrified the hell out of me. Her cries echoed behind me as I walked away. I walked away because if I didn’t, I would not have stayed.

Now I sit here typing this, almost three years later. I have my own apartment with a man that loves me unconditionally, has loved me despite all of my faults and wrongdoings, & his little boy. My daughter is sleeping peacefully in the next room & you have no idea how grateful I am. I got her back. I got my life back. That program that I dreaded, the one that I wanted nothing to do with, gave me a solid foundation on which I am now building my life. The people at the program that surrounded me on daily basis showed me God’s love in countless numbers of ways. Every single one of them were a blessing that changed my world forever.

I don’t ever regret going. Not anymore. It was painfully difficult. There were moments when I found my strength fading away. In the beginning of my recovery, I spent periods of time locked in a bathroom sobbing, scribbling my daughter’s name over & over again in a notebook. The dread & regret from all of the things I’ve done to her & my family came rushing into my body on days like that. And then the withdrawal set in. But I sat there & I took it. I let it flood in & drown me until I could no longer catch my breath. I would bite my lip and count down the days I had left until I would be with her fully, tears rolling down my cheeks.

Why did I do it? Because I had to. Because it was the only option left. I had burned all of my bridges and I was alone. I was alone & I was addicted to heroin & I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I was on the verge of losing my precious baby girl. I had caused too many people unbearable amounts of pain & I don’t think that they could have taken anymore of it.

The point of all of this is that you do the things that hurt you most because you have to. You do them for the people that you love. You suck it up & you walk through the darkness & the journey ends up changing you forever. But only if you let it.

Person, Unknown.

Sometimes, when I find myself in places throughout this city where I used to stick needles into my arms, I start to get some extreme anxiety (as you can probably already imagine). All of the blood inside my body seems to rush to my head, my skin gets a really ugly shade of white, and my stomach starts to lurch. Not only that, but I feel as if someone is putting their big ugly hands around my throat and squeezing as hard as they possibly can. That’s what anxiety feels like to me, anyways. A more theatrical version of it though, I guess. It’s horrible.

Anyways, I was driving down this road and all of the buildings that were scattered beside it brought back memories of a life that I wish I could just forget. Vivid and horrible things that I had done started to rush like waves of guilt into my brain and I was completely consumed by it. It terrified me. Those big ugly hands started to squeeze tighter and tighter until I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all. I pulled my beige 2003 Saturn over to the side of the road, looked into the overhead mirror and kept telling myself what I always tell myself when it gets that bad. “If you can talk, you can breathe.” And then, of course, I started babbling out random things just to make sure I could talk and, to the people that were walking past my car, I probably looked like a crazed schizophrenic. But it helps me, so I really didn’t care. I took a breath of air into my lungs tried to get a hold of whatever peace I had left inside of me.

I finally calmed down.

I’m not entirely sure if I have PTSD or whatever other form of it there is. But I do know one thing. The girl in these memories or flashbacks or whatever I am having on these horrible but often occasions, regardless of whether I know that she is indeed me or not, doesn’t feel like me anymore. She feels like a completely different person. Like some other girl that looks like me and talks like me is stuffing her horrible recollections into my brain when I’m sleeping or something.

And I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.