It started off as a dare. It was just one pill, I was at a house party, and of course, there was alcohol and weed and all the typical indulgences of stupid young college kids. It was all just fun and games, seeing how many shots we could take before we threw up, or if any of us could chug a beer while upside down. That was until one of the seniors joined us and proudly announced that he had “scored”. Silly us, we were impressed by anything, and drugs and parties were things I had only been exposed to through television till then. So, in the high of being free from our home and our parents for the first time, we all agreed to buy five pills of ecstasy from him. There was a moment of hesitation before I took it. Seeing the tiny pill in my palm, knowing that it was the exact thing everyone warned against, I almost changed my mind about it. But then my group started cheering me on, saying that it was just the one time, it will not make that much of a difference, ‘didn’t I want to live a wild life in college, to be able to tell my kids about later in life?’. It felt……I do not really know how to describe it except it was like free-falling. It feels like the air is being knocked out of your lungs while the air around you swoops you up in a whirlwind. And there is a moment when you feel like you might hit the ground, when the adrenaline makes your nerves feel like live wires, and then you wake up sweaty and groggy, not knowing what you did last night or how you got back to your room.
And, that was that. You don’t really think about it until you’re presented with the opportunity of doing it again. A different drug this time. How bad can it be from the last?
As I go the memory lane, my experimentation with drugs started out as a curiosity. Until it became something concerning, I was actively trying to seek it out. I knew it had become an addiction long before I was ready to admit it. It became an escape, first from situations that were actually overwhelming, and then from anything that even mildly bothered me. I was looking for excuses to use it as a getaway; cutting away anybody that tried to stop me. It honestly did not seem that bad to me. It just seemed like my family and friends were overreacting. I knew, of course, I could stop anytime I wanted to. Who are they to control my life, all I’m doing is using something that helps me deal with stressors in life, everyone has different coping strategies.
It all truly spiraled out of control when they did a surprise drug check at my dorm. Of course, I did not clear it, and got kicked out of college. That, instead of acting like a wake-up call to quit this habit, was like pouring kerosene on the fire. My nervous system was
already so wracked with the lack of happy hormones because it had become so dependent on the drugs. I fell into a deep depression and lost all motivation for anything in life. I cut off and blocked all my friends and family, because I knew that they’d try to help, and I didn’t want to be saved. I am truly ashamed of the things I did to be able to get a fix. I stole from my father’s wallet; I sold my mother’s earrings and let her think they were lost; and I even went as far as to steal and pawn off my grandfather’s watch.
I think it was a Tuesday when things seemed especially hopeless, my family had already tried sending me to rehab but it had not worked. I’d been back for two days now and for the entire 48 hours, all I could hear was my mother quietly crying in the next room while my father paced the halls talking to hospital after hospital to try and get me into another rehabilitation program. I do not know if it was the self-loathing or if I was just selfish. All I wanted was to get away from all these negative emotions, but it took a lot more than I should have. Everything blacked out after that.
I woke up three weeks later in the hospital. They told me that I had overdosed and had to get my stomach pumped but because my system was already weak, it went into a shock. Dread and guilt spread through me faster than any drug ever had, and all I could think of at that moment was how my parents were dealing with this. I think that was the push I needed to understand that I wasn’t really alone in what I was doing. I couldn’t just keep destroying myself under the justification of ‘my life, my rules’. Others depended on me just as I can depend on them.
After I was discharged, my mother asked me to go to therapy, and to everyone’s and even my own surprise, I did. And I stuck it out. I went every day for a month and then every other day for three months. Even today, after being drug-free for two years, I do not skip a session. The sessions are paced now. I meet the therapist, every two weeks, on a Thursday.
What took me a long time is to realize that I had a problem. I had to accept that something is not OK and my struggles are real. I am slowly and steadily realizing that I don’t have to do everything, at least not alone. We are humans; we make connections and live in a society and it is our nature to be depending on others. We can lean our weight on each other from time to time. My family has been my rock and, my lighthouse when I was drifting, and I now know that it’s okay for me to need and more than that to actually ask for help. It is our endeavor to reach out to people who need to talk, to feel valued and journey to build the life they desire most.