I usually talk about mental health on my blog. Specifically how it has affected my life and my day to day struggles with it. I want to switch things up a bit, I want to talk a little about substance abuse. I haven’t used any names in my blog to protect myself and my family. I did mention though that I’m from Massachusetts. I want to mention someone from Massachusetts that I admire. His name is Chris Herren. He’s maybe 4 or 5 years older than I am, he was a basketball player, like I was. I played ball but I never had the talent of this dude. For real he’s one of the best I’ve seen. Forget the fact that he’s a fellow Masshole, that has nothing to do with it. He could straight up ball. McDonald’s high school all American, recruited by Duke, BC and almost every major program in the NCAA. A stud. Chris has a well documented history of substance abuse. He was the first or second pick in the second round of the draft. First rounder without the stigma surrounding him. Drafted by the Denver Nuggets, traded to the home team Boston Celtics. I’m sure there are a lot of stories like his in our state and across the country and the world. The point of all this isn’t about his skills on the court or the what if of his NBA career. ( he’d be a hall of famer probably, he was that good in my opinion) Not all the wasted opportunities, or the overdoses, he had 4. This dude is an inspiration because he lived this life and has rededicated his life to helping others. He hit bottom time and time again and made it out. Now, he goes all over the country talking to high schools and college and professional sports teams about addiction. That’s incredible to me. Not only does he still focus on his own struggles, which I can tell you never go away, he also goes all over to help others. I’ve wanted to do what he does, I want to help people.
I’ve had my own long battle with drugs in my past. Like I said I want to help people. Whether about mental health issues or addiction issues. I just want to help. Maybe this blog will help someone, I don’t know. I can only hope. I’ve started rambling, sorry.
Anyways, the point I think I’m trying to make is, are mental health problems and drug abuse related? Can one lead to or be caused by the other? These are questions that I ponder. Being someone who has and does deal with those things, I wonder. I’m not a doctor, I have no medical answers just what I’ve learned from my own life.
I’m going to do a little research on the topic, but I’ll say this. Why do kids start experimenting with drugs? I think it’s different for every case but I believe an underlying reason is acceptance, wanting to be accepted. When you are willing to put yourself at risk to fit in with kids you’ve known your whole life that’s sad. There seems to be an issue of self confidence, or having a poor self image, a lack of confidence or whatever it is. These are some of the reasons I started messing around with booze and pot. At first I did this to “fit in” maybe that’s how it is for everyone. For me, it started there but evolved. I started using these things to escape from everyday life, I loved the way getting high made me feel. What happened next is pretty common probably but every time something bad happened or I felt depressed I would turn to weed, why not it made me happy when I was sad. I developed a dangerous coping mechanism, I was 15 or 16. Sixteen years old and coping with life through drugs. It’s just a little pot right? Who cares, no biggie.
Fast forward a few years. I’m 19 and my dad killed himself. The summer after my disastrous freshman year of college where I wasted his money by skipping class, smoking weed drinking every day and eating as many shrooms and acid that I could. Anyways, my dad, he killed himself. I already at a younger age established a habit of self medicating when life got hard. How do you think I reacted to this? Poorly, that’s how. It started with the usual suspects my old friends pot and booze.
A few months after he died I received about $30,000 in life insurance money. I could write down a million things that I SHOULD have done with that money, here’s what I DID do.
I was doing my thing, masking my pain with pot and booze. One day a friend of mine had some cocaine. He offered me some, I said no. I wish I could go back to that night. I did say no, and I sat there for an hour or so brooding over it. When no one was looking I got my friend alone and said I changed my mind, I want to try it. Well, long story short, $30,000 went up my nose. I could talk all day about my misadventures, my rock bottom etc.
Embarrassed. That’s one word that, for me, that connects my addiction and mental health issues. When I was young I developed a dangerous coping mechanism for dealing with sadness and depression. Why? A combination of things I think. Thinking back I know that I was always battling depression. I knew something was wrong and I knew that drugs helped, plain and simple. I was embarrassed to admit to myself or my parents or any adult that could help me out. If I could go back I would start a dialogue with my folks and get some counseling. Learn some healthy coping mechanisms. Maybe my dad would have been proud of his sons son’s ability to ask for help. Maybe he would have looked inward and realized that he needed help too. Who knows, I can’t torture myself with what ifs, especially when it comes to him. So I was embarrassed, I didn’t ask for help, I did learn the wrong way to deal which had a ripple effect on my adult life.
I’m 39 now. I’ve learned, finally, better ways to cope. I take my meds and go to therapy. The stupid things that I did, the mistakes I made and the hearts that I broke made me who I am. Would my life be easier if I hadn’t done those things, maybe. Can’t think like that though. Life moves forward not back. Those decisions made me who I am.
Writing this blog over the last month or so has been good for me, but, I’m not doing this JUST for me. Someone told me, hey, you started a blog?! Dude that’s sweet you can make money. Maybe I can, someone please tell me how lol. Just kidding, it’s not about that. I’ve had many people help me on my journey. I haven’t helped anyone myself though. That is the point of this blog. If my experiences can help one person, just one other human being, then I have succeeded. Maybe someday, like Mr. Herren, I can do more than writing this blog. That would be amazing, because at the end of the day every human life is worth saving. I can’t help everyone but maybe I can help someone.
Thanks for listening, talk to you all later.