by Timothy Donald
I can remember suffering from depression, feeling inadequate and unloved at the age of eight. My parents were young– mom was seventeen and dad was nineteen. My mom was a single parent who struggled, worked all the time and did the best she could. But I was pretty much on my own most of the time because she had to work so much. My father did the bare minimum, I barely saw him and most of his love came in the form of a child support check.
At age eight, my father married and had another child
I never really got along with my step mother and I felt like she didn’t want me to be part of “her family.”
I was diagnosed and prescribed medication for my depression at age eleven but they made me feel very weird, like a vegetable almost, so I refused to take them. This is where my addiction begins with self mediation.
I smoked marijuana for the first time at age eleven and it took all the pain, hurt and insecurities away. I thought it was the answer to all my problems but it was the start of my progressive addiction. And it was also the start of my legal troubles.
At age fourteen I was popping Xanax, drinking codeine, and smoking weed every day to suppress my emotions. I started getting locked up at age fifteen and have been incarcerated every year since then–all my problems and crimes stemming from self medicating and substance abuse.
I didn’t feel normal unless I was high and I used daily
I contemplated suicide a lot over the years but never attempted. My drug usage got more progressive. I was using cocaine and age sixteen along with acid, ecstasy and opiates. I felt I was always alone–trapped in addiction, a slave to the drugs.
I didn’t use them any more, they used me and I thought I needed them.
For the next six years I used as much as I could always to suppress my emotions. I was a ticking time bomb. I never cried out because as a male, I thought asking for help was a weakness. I’d silently cry to myself at night, asking myself why I felt the way I did.
Why do I do the things I do to obtain drugs? Why can’t I just stop? Why do I feel like dying?
My thought was always that everyone would be better off without me
I caused so much pain and stress to my loved ones and I was at my worst in October of 2104 when on of my closest friends died. He was the most caring, free-spirited person I had ever met. He could make anyone smile or laugh. I had so much love for that kid. This was someone I spent almost every day with.
I tried to fill the void left by his passing with cocaine, weed, xanax–almost anything to just make the pain go away. It didn’t work.
Until I met heron for the first time at age 22. I was in love. Nothing else mattered. It took all the pain away and again, I felt as if I was floating.
No one told me all the pain it causes when you’re sick or craving. The animal it turns you into, the things you do to obtain it. The people you hurt. Nothing matters except that next high. I’d lie, steal, manipulate and anything else I could think of just so I could get my next fix.
Because being sick, withdrawing was so painful and the regret from all the pain I caused my family, the wrong I had done, the time I had lost, the life I was throwing away, the broken promises and dreams left me broken and shattered. All that shame had me cornered in a hotel bathroom with a loaded gun on July 2, 2018.
I thought about my brothers. I thought about my two loving grandmothers. I thought about my mother who struggled every day of her life and worked so hard to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. I thought of my dad and the relationship I wanted to fix and have with him. I thought about my best friend who had died.
Finally, I cried out for help.
On July 3, 2018 I was incarcerated in Chesterfield County Jail and three days later my prayers were answered when I walked into the doors of HARP (Heroin Addicts in Recovery Program). I am currently working a 12-step program, addressing my mental health issues, my adverse childhood experiences, and my addictive behavior.
Today I am sober trying to make amends, forgive myself, and most importantly, love myself.
A special thanks to all my HARP brothers, the fellowship of NA, the staff and facilitators and motivational speakers who come into HARP. And of course, my family. This would not be possible without them. I love you all.