I’m Gonna Keep On Keepin’ On

I was a new mother living on a farm miles away from other humans, my husband worked all night and here I was with this new baby who refused to sleep.

I have one story, but it seems to have been spit into two parts. I was in recovery for seven years when I decided to start up again.

I had just had my first child; little did I know I’d be hit with devastating postpartum depression. My husband worked overnights at a steel company, leaving me all alone at home. His boss was kind enough to give him the day of the birth off, but after that he had to go back to work.

There I was with a new baby, all alone and beyond lonely.

A Bit of History

I have battled with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. I entered recovery when I was 20 yrs old. I was an IV crystal meth user, along with popping any and every kind of pill I could get my hands on.

I met my husband when I started a new job, shortly after moving back home with my parents. He had been struggling with a severe drug problem and, after going through drug court, moved to our town to enter a half-way house. The man who helped run the half-way house also owned the restaurant where we both worked – we started four days apart.

I was drawn to him instantly; I knew why he was here and I knew that he was sober. I, on the other hand, was not. With him being in such a strict living environment and working under the watchful eye of his house manager, I was unsure if we should pursue a relationship. He knew I wasn’t sober. I never used in front of him, but was high around him many times. I knew that we couldn’t be together if I was using, so I lied and led him to believe I had stopped using.

One night after about six months of working together and “dating” as best we could, we were sitting on the deck of the half-way house and he presented me with the first coin that he earned in sobriety. He told me how proud of me he was that I was clean and sober. This absolutely broke my heart. I started to cry and came clean with him. I told him I had still been using and the reason that I was late that evening was because I was out getting high. From that moment on, I vowed not to use anymore and started my journey into sobriety.

That was September 12, 2002.

Finding – and Losing – Sobriety

I led a clean and sober life for just over seven years. I did things that I had always wanted to do. I got married to the love of my life, the man who helped me realize that a sober way of living was better than the life I had been living. I began racing cars at the local dirt track we visited every week..and I was good at it. I ended up placing 4th overall in points out of a group of 32 men. I was the only woman out there, weighing barely 100 pounds and commanding a race car that I was too small to be strapped tightly enough into. I was top-5 in points for the season and left the race track each week with a pride and confidence that eventually won a free trip to Las Vegas!

In the spring of 2009, I became pregnant with our first child. This put an end to the racing I loved so dearly; it was the beginning of my long spiral towards relapse.

In the spring of 2009, I became pregnant with our first child. This put an end to the racing I loved so dearly; it was the beginning of my long spiral towards relapse. I hated every second of being pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted this baby and was excited to be having a little boy, but hated everything about pregnancy. As I gained weight and became bigger, I began to feel terrible about myself. I had always been very thin and athletic, yet here I was, 42 pounds heavier and absolutely miserable. My husband worked nights and I worked full-time at a very demanding job. I was over-stressed and overwhelmed with life.

I gave birth to a baby boy in December of 2009 – and that’s when things quickly spiraled out of control.

I was a new mother living on a farm miles away from other humans, my husband worked all night and here I was with this new baby who refused to sleep. I was up all night with the little guy screaming and fussing. When he turned 11 days old, we found out he was born with hole in his windpipe. Whenever he drank milk, some of it would end up in his lungs. I ended up having to stay in the hospital with him until the hole healed up enough for him to come home.

Up all day and all night doing household things, I never got any sleep. My husband, on the other hand, slept like a baby. In his mind, since I wasn’t working, caring for the new baby was my sole responsibility. He would come home from work, get an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep, get up and go to work again for the night. Meanwhile, I kept the house up, cared for the baby and never got more than an hour or two of sleep at one time.

One afternoon when he woke up, he told me “if you have anything you need to do, you better hurry up because you only have an hour”. ANYTHING TO DO??? To him, showering or eating was still something that he could do whenever he wanted. To me, I had an hour a day to do it – only when he would “relieve” me. I developed a huge resentment towards him…one that, to this day, I’ve yet to forgive him for. He treated me like a second-class citizen because I was not contributing financially to the household. This was the last straw for me.

The Impact

A few months after I went back to work, I began tossing around the idea of drinking. I was never much of drinker; I had always been drawn to uppers, so I didn’t think it would be a problem for me to drink a little bit…and for five years, it wasn’t.

I finished college in the summer of 2015 and joined the healthcare field. I had been so busy with trying to get good grades and graduating at the top of my class that I didn’t really have time to drink that much. I couldn’t study or get sleep if I was up drinking. At that point in my life, the one thing that really, really mattered to me was being the best student I could be. When I finished, I had nothing more to work for. I had a ton of time on my hands and wasn’t used to it. I began to drink socially with friends and my husband; it finally felt like I had a little bit of life back. That changed in a hurry.

I began drinking every night. It started out as just a few drinks, maybe two or three before bed to sleep a little better. That quickly turned into six or eight; eventually my husband and I were finishing off a case of beer every night. I drank before work, on the way home from work, when I was on call…it didn’t matter to me.

I felt better when I drank; it helped with my social anxiety. The anxiety medicine I had been on for years just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so I took more and more of them. Instead of a couple a day as prescribed, I started taking a couple at a time throughout the day. Chewing them to get the drug into my system faster.

After a few months of drinking and eating pills, I hit hit my bottom. I couldn’t drink enough to make me feel better, I was just in a constant state of “buzzed.” I ate pills like they were candy and drank alcohol like it was water. I was a danger to myself, my family and the public.

Towards the end of last August, I went on a three-day-run of blacking out and not coming home. I got myself into a situation that a married woman should never be in; I ended up covered in bruises and wasn’t quite sure what happened that night. I drove 13 miles home (it’s a miracle I made it alive or without killing someone) into the worried arms of a heartbroken husband. I got up three hours later and went to work.

I had only been working for two hours when I got the phone call. It was my husband calling to tell me he had spoken with a treatment center that was two hours from our home; they had a bed waiting for me. “Will you go?” he asked. I said yes. I went to my supervisor and told her the situation. She, in not so many words, told me that it was about time.

Accepting the Help I Need

I drove home where I met my husband. He had taken our two children to daycare and would explain to them where Mommy was when they got home. I packed three days of clothing, just like the woman told my husband I would need. We got in the truck and headed to treatment.

I’ve never felt more scared…or more brave. I was with my husband, my best friend in the whole world, the one who believed in me the most. He is also the one I hurt the most. Broken trust, broken heart and broken vows. But he has always been there to comfort me, even though I was the one who hurt him. That’s just how he is; that’s why I married him.

I brought along all my pills when I checked into rehab; it turns out I had taken around 35 Klonopin since I’d left the night before. I could have died. I was on suicide watch for most of that time in detox.

We arrived at the treatment center during a lunch break. There were probably about 20 people outside smoking or walking around. There could have been 200 as far as I was concerned. I was not going anywhere until they went away. After a few minutes, I got the courage to go inside. We went to the front reception area and the lady had everything ready for me to be checked in.

I did it! I am here to get better. My husband stayed through the whole check-in process and facility tour, then it was time for him to go. I had never been away from this man. I’d spent every day of the past 14 years with him. What am I going to do without him? After quite a few teary eyed minutes, we decided it was better for him to go and not prolong it. It was the hardest goodbye of my life so far. I called him and we talked for most of his drive home. He left me with no phone of my own, so I was a blubbering mess in the middle of the common area.

I was in detox for eight days. I was not aware of the extent of my prescription drug use. I brought along all my pills when I checked into rehab; it turns out I had taken around 35 Klonopin since I’d left the night before. I could have died. I was on suicide watch for most of that time in detox. I had not tried to commit suicide; I never intended to harm myself…I just took that many pills to make myself “feel better.”

This proved to me that I was in the right place. I was where I belonged at this moment in time. I was going to make the best of it and do what I needed to do in order to get home to my family.

Lessons Learned

I’m so glad that I had the chance to go to treatment. My family was very understanding, my job was still there when I got back and, most of all, my husband was still by my side. I spent a total of 29 days in treatment and met some of the best people I have ever known. A lot of them are not sober today; they just need a little more help.

One of my closest friends said that the reason he approached me was because, even though I was sad when my husband left me that first day, I kept my head up high and did what I needed to do to get better.

I am so grateful for this experience. My life is great today. I feel good. I am happy. I try to keep a positive attitude. I have the best job in the world. I even got promoted!

My hopes and dreams for the future are simple: just to do the next right thing. The next right thing for me. I realize that sometimes others might not see that as the best thing, but if it is the best thing for me, then I am going to do it. I am here for the long haul and will work the program to the best of my ability. I am still early in my recovery process. I hope to continue down this path and pray I have the courage to keep on keepin’ on!

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