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Wake up, pray, deep breathing, wipe sweaty hands, notice how much they are shaking, tell myself I’m good enough, and then attempt to get out of bed.
That’s just one version of part of my daily morning routine, in recovery from a heroin addiction.
Morning routine in active addiction:
Wake up, grab needle, grab heroin, shoot up, and go about my day.
Notice no prayer, no deep breathing needed, no sweaty hands, no shakey hands, no convincing myself of self-worth, and easily able to get out of bed.
Heroin not only helped quiet my anxiety, but it completely eliminated it.
The second I felt anxious, one bit of heroin erased it. No rapid heartbeat, no shakey and sweaty hands, no irrational thoughts and beliefs, no intense amount of fear and panic, no loss or shortness of breath, etc etc etc.
My favorite thing that heroin solved was my thoughts of truly believing that I am worthless and not good enough for everything and everyone (no matter how many times they reassured me of my importance). All of the self-loathing went away.
But when I wasn’t high and just maintaining my habit, those thoughts came stampeding into my head and worked their way down to my heart.
The same heroin that eliminated those thoughts ended up bringing worse thoughts in.
It was no longer “you’re not good enough, you’re a terrible person, you’re ugly, blah blah blah”.. now it was “your family hates you, you ruined their lives, you ruined your own life, you’re a junkie, you look sick, you’ll never get sober, you’ll never have a job, you can’t have a job, you can’t have a family, you can’t get married, no one will love you, etc etc etc”
The worst part is that most of these thoughts were now completely true. I most definitely couldn’t get a job, I ruined my life, I was a junkie, I looked sick, etc… So all those thoughts that used to be gone with a shot of heroin, was now worse, true, and destroying me even more than before.
Although it was poison, it did have some purpose, so letting it go was a little bit of a grief process. Now, being in recovery, when those thoughts come, I can’t help but wonder if the poison would be worth it to shut the thoughts and emotions down.
But then I remember that I have found a cure for the poison and the thoughts that works perfectly for me.
That cure is my faith. God, Jesus, prayer, scripture, church, my Christian friends and family, my bible study.
I’ll never forget when those thoughts came creeping in and anxiety was paying a visit for the first time since I no longer had heroin. Man, it was scary. I literally thought, “How am I going to cope with this without heroin?”
2 years and 2 months later, I’m coping with it without heroin.
Prayer helps the most. Grounding exercises help. Squeezing a stress ball helps. Essential oils help. WoodWick candles help. Baths help. Work helps.
I had to accept my anxiety, I had to accept my depression. But acceptance doesn’t mean I like it or want it or will be chained or controlled by it. It means that I simply acknowledge its existence and learn how to function with it.
There are absolutely very difficult days. There are days that I go to work late, that I struggle through homework, that I have a couple of panic attacks before doing what I had to do, that I let the negative thoughts live in my head and travel in my ear for hours, that I have mood swings, that I lash out on the people that love me the most, that I use dry shampoo instead of washing my hair.
But, those tough days end, they pass. Sometimes it’s a prayer that helps them pass. Sometimes it’s my best friend telling me how valid my feelings are and how beautiful I am. Sometimes it’s hearing my mom’s singing and watching one of our shows together. Sometimes it’s hearing my dad say, “sweet dreams honey” at the end of the night. Sometimes it’s my boyfriend saying in a soothing tone that he loves me. And a lot of time, it’s my cat sitting on my chest and purring, begging for attention.
I learned that recovery doesn’t solve or eliminate everything. Being a Christian doesn’t solve or eliminate everything. I have a cross to bear, I have struggles, I have weaknesses, I have defeats. But faith, my sobriety, my loved ones, my passions, my purpose, my dreams.. are what turns these difficulties into beauty and make them bearable.
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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