Sunday, January 26, 2014

Finding Meaning in the Suffering

Over the past month as I have shared about my addiction with people, I sometimes get caught up telling "war stories" of my war with addiction. By "war stories", I mean I glorify or downplay certain aspects or times of my addiction. I have decided to share with you the truth about the suffering, as well as the meaning that I have found in the suffering. 

Truth About Suffering: 

Truth is...this addiction has been the hardest challenge of my entire life. It is something that I have to be aware of and cautious of every single day. 

Truth is...I suffered to the point of not even wanting to live on the face of this earth, because this challenge was so great. 

Truth is...I have never been more lost in my entire life. I lost sight of who I was, what I wanted to be, where I was going...etc. 

Truth About Meaning: 

Truth is...the first time I went running when I was in rehab was the best run I have ever been on. I could feel the miracle of the air coming into my lungs to give my body what it needed to accomplish the task of running. I felt my feet pounding on the gym floor, and it seriously felt amazing. The little things in my life began to become the big things. 

Truth is...I see my worth completely differently. I know my worth enough to not allow myself to be treated poorly or lied to. I see my worth enough to not hold onto relationships that have become completely one-sided. My worth is a divine worth. My Heavenly Father truly loves me unconditionally and has forgiven me. Such a miracle. 

Truth is...I set my sights differently. If I chose to focus on my past, I will forever be stuck in my past. If I choose to worry so far into the future, I will be a basket case of worry all the time. I choose to live in the right now. I choose to be happy where I am at, while things begin to fall into place. 

Truth is...I live with a grateful heart every single day. I am so grateful for my life and my struggle. I have found so much meaning in this struggle. Once I was able to see the changes in me and identify the meaning for my struggling, I was able to move past the struggling. 

Truth is...I had a very strong addiction that nearly destroyed me, but fortunately it didn't and I get a second chance. I will never take life for granted again. I am here for a reason. How amazing is it that my purpose goes beyond just my job and buying nice things. My purpose is much bigger than myself. My purpose will be fulfilled one day, but for now, I will enjoy life by spending it with positive people doing positive things. 

Again, thank you all for all of the phone calls, comments, texts, notes, etc. It means the world. I feel like I am fighting this war with an entire army behind me. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

More Fun Times

Such a fun week!

On Thursday night, my mama and I drove up to Logan. We ate at our favorte: The Beehive Grill with the gorgeous Ashley (my roommate from DC). 

The next morning, I headed up to the USU campus to teach at 8:30. I remember now why I hate Logan. Walking across campus in January is TERRIBLE! It was fun seeing all of my old professors and my pal Melissa who was kind enough to sit in while I spoke. I have the best friends! I took the rest of the morning to interview students for an internship that I am offering this summer. So much fun!

After that, my mom and I had a girls day and spent the entire day shopping! So much fun! 

That night, Kate and I went to Lady Antebellum. It was our second time seeing them- that's how amazing they are in concert. Weirdest thing though! We got shhhhhhh'd during the concert? Apparently the old lady in front of us thought she was at the Ballet and didn't like how loud it was. They were still amazing! So glad I impulsively bought tickets 4 days before!

Today I was planning on going boarding, but that didn't happen since I woke up at 1:30. Instead I went on my first run of 2014 almost a month later! I ran 5 miles and my lungs hate me! 

Some pics:

Ash and I were too busy chattin to get a picture in Logan so a picture from DC will do. Ashley is the gorgeous girl on the left. She will always and forever be my person! Love ya ash!!

If I die this week- it's because Katie killed me for posting this picture muahahahaha

People always say we look like sisters. This is the first time I might actually agree!

Such a fun concert! Besides wanting to punch our shusher in the mouth!

I changed some things around in my house. It's still a work in progress!

It actually wasn't too cold, but the air quality is terrible!

My new Brooks Run Happy shirt. I love it!

Kelli's week of fun was a success!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Time To Have Fun Again

So I kinda got caught up in trying to be perfect at recovery. I'm such a spaz sometimes. When I was talking about how stressed out I was to my therapist, she said something that shocked me. She said, "I have seen you nearly 200 times in the past year, and I don't even know what you like to do for fun- I challenge you to have fun!"

Challenge Accepted. 

Some fun things I have done: Family dinner and game night, my niece Charly's 2nd birthday party, got a massage, slumber party with the kids, snowboarding, P!nk concert, hang out with old friends, shop, shop, and waaaay too much shopping. I can't wait to start working out again. I have been sooo sick from detoxing the past 6 weeks that I haven't been able to work out. 

Some things happening this weekend: Roadtrip to Logan to guest speak at my old major class with my mama, Lady Antebellum concert, snowboarding, family time. 

I seriously could not believe someone who I have met with for nearly 200 hours in the past year didn't even know what I liked to do for fun. 

Everything usually has to be productive or competitive for me. Time to take it easy and enjoy life. 

Playing games with the kids

This gorgeous little girl didn't feel like wearing clothes to her party. She does what she wants!

When the girls slept over, they asked if I was gonna make breakfast. Yeah right! We went to Dennys!

Pink was SO rad!

My cute mom has been my ROCK these past couple of months. I am so excited that she's driving up to Logan with me!

Finally using my Snowbird pass!

This is what you look like when kids sleep on top of you all night. I am not ready for motherhood. 

So nice to get some good air

I got myself into a lot of trouble at the Loft this week!

You're looking at some pool champs right here!

Matt is one of my best supporters. I don't know what I would do without him. 

Yet another new Loft outfit. It just feels so good to  get all cute again. I guess my outsides are reflecting my insides. 

I have been amazed at the amount of people who have noticed a difference in my appearance. I get compliments on my healthy and happy looks all the time. I am so humbled and grateful by the love and support I receive daily. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Okay, I don't cry. 

I cried maybe 2 times when I was in rehab as I was getting therapy all day every day. 

But, today as I was driving home from my parents, I just began to bawl. 

I will write about the week that lead me to rehab later, but I will share one thing. 

As I was in a very drugged daze, I saw two choices. First, I decided I didn't want to live life as an addict. I was going to drive up the canyon and jump off a cliff and end it all. Then, I chose life. I chose to go to rehab to save my life. 

Today as I was thinking about how far I have come and still how much further I have to go- I am so grateful. I am so grateful I chose life. I am so grateful God is giving me a chance to gain so much of his strength. I am so grateful for my supportive family. I am so grateful for the therapist that took me to rehab. I am grateful for everyone at rehab. I am grateful to still have a job after taking off so much time. I am so grateful for the out poor of love and support from people on this blog. Thank you so much for giving me love and strength I need to make it one day at a time. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Recovery Check In


Let's fast forward to my current recovery. 

Recovery is HARD. 

When you leave treatment, you aren't fixed. 

I like to think rehab as getting surgery. 

Basically brain surgery. 

I have the tools to be a recovering addict. But I have to work at it every single day. It's like doing physical therapy for the next few months after surgery to fully recover. I have honestly been physically sick for two months as my body has adjusted without drugs. Detoxing SUCKS. 

It's still really hard to stay sober and to deal with stress in new ways besides falling back to the default of drugs. 

It's SO worth it though. 

I can't wait to see myself in a year when my brain is recovered. It really takes a lot of sleep, doing positive activities, going to therapy, etc. 

When I left rehab, I thought it would be so easy to just start over. It's not like that at all. There are some REALLY good days. And some REALLY bad days. I am trying to change all of my old habits by replacing them with new ones. 

All of your love and support during this journey means SO much. I have never wanted to succeed at something more in my entire life. 

Last night as I was driving, this came to my mind: "Life isn't about never failing, it's about RISING. 

I will RISE. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Really Scary Overdose

Being a drug addict, there are many scary and unpredictable times. I have overdosed dozens of times over the years. I have been hospitalized or taken to the ER probably about 10 times for overdoses, and definitely should have gone to the hospital even more than that. None of that scared me. I had no fear of death. Sometimes, I even secretly wished it upon myself. 

Until the scary weekend happened. 

This last October, I literally did actually die. 

It all started on a Wednesday. I started to get sick, which was no surprise since I had been spending all my time at work and then working on my house. When I finally moved into my house, my body was exhausted. So, I took a few Xanex to sleep and took the day off. A few Xanex turned into 30 in one day. But I didn't stop there. 

The next day, I took 15 Soma and 10 Fioricet. 

The day after that, I took 30 ambien. 

Throughout those few days, I took a total of 60 Zanaflex. 

I completely lost it. 

I woke up that Sunday night with NO IDEA what had just happened the past few days. My phone was cracked, my tire looked like it hit a curb pretty hard, and I had bruises and cuts all down my legs. I just started bawling. Then, a voice in my head said "Listen to Elder Holland's talk". I watched it. Bawled the next two days thinking about it. I wrote Elder Holland and told him about my situation. When I got back from rehab, I had a letter in my mail pile he wrote me. Super rad. 

Then it came to me. I vividly remember my heart stopping. I remember floating up onto my ceiling and seeing my body laying in my bed. I remember seeing and talking to my brother-in-law Byron. He was very clear with me. My time isn't up. I have a very specific and important purpose on this earth. People need me. 

That's when I began to hate my addiction more than I loved it. It was holding me back from my infinite potential and purpose. It was time to get help. 

Thinking back on this experience still gives me the chills. I can't believe how much I took. I can't believe I remember my heart stopping. I can't believe I woke up without any physical side effects of all the drugs in my body. I am also very grateful. Grateful for the sense of purpose I feel. Grateful to understand my life with an eternal perspective more than ever before. 

I am so glad those dark days are over and I get my life back. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Disease Model of Addiction

Alright, time for a small physiology lesson. 

In rehab, not only do we discuss the core underlying  issues that drive our addictions, but we also learn about our brains and how they work when we have addictions. I think it's a good thing for all to know, since everybody knows at least one person with an addiction. 

Of course, in the beginning of an addiction, behaviors are individual choices. But once the brain changes, addictions become a brain disease and the choice argument gets thrown out the window. 

I encourage all people who know someone with an addiction to watch the movie "Pleasure Unwoven". This movie goes into more depth about the disease model of addiction. I have had some people in my life look down on me (myself included) because I have an addiction. Many people believe that addicts are bad people who make bad decisions and if they just went to church or prayed more, then they would be cured of this devilish weakness. While I wish that all I had to do was pray and it would go away, that is not the case. 

Drugs work in our midbrains. The midbrain is responsible for the unconscious control of our will to live. This is the pleasure center. This is the unconscious center that takes over our frontal cortex which is the decision making center of the brain. This is the voice telling us that if we don't eat, we will die. Drug addicts get the same cravings for drugs. If we don't get drugs, we will die. 

The main factor for the cause of addiction is prolonged unmanaged stress. This happens, because our brains learn how to deal with stress by using drugs. If someone is over-stressed and their brain releases high amounts of cortisol, when they use drugs, their brain will then higher amounts of dopamine, and stress can be managed. 

The disease definition of addiction is: A dysregulation of the midbrain pleasure system due to unmanaged stress resulting in symptoms of decreased functioning such as: loss of control, cravings, and persistent use despite negative consequences. 

A disease model goes like this: Organ ---> Defect ---> Symptoms. 

With addiction the model is this: midbrain ----> Defect in dopamine system ---> loss of control, craving, and persistent use. 

This information is SO helpful. This means that I am not weak. I like to think of addiction as a terminal disease. It will always be there and it is something that I will have to stay on top of and be in recovery my entire life. BUT, that also fights the argument that saying my prayers more will not cure my disease. It will definitely give me strength through tough days, but I would never pray my way through a broken arm. That just doesn't work. 

Now that I understand my brain and understand the defect, it is much easier to treat the symptoms that I never understood before. 

Sorry I kinda sucked at that explanation, but it's hard to explain in a short blog post!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chapter Four: No More Shame

If I think about the past eight years of my addiction, the thing that sticks out the most to me is the huge amounts of shame that I had. 

I didn't want to be an addict. In fact, it took me just about the entire eight years of the addiction before I finally said that I had an addiction. 

There's a huge addiction campaign called #nomoreshame

This is because I wasn't alone in my shame. Most addicts have HUGE amounts of shame that need to be addressed when they decide to get treatment. 

In case you don't know, there is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is the thought, "I did something bad", Shame is the thought, "I am bad". 

There is such a stigma around addictions. Here I was, a successful person fighting demons inside that were telling me on a regular basis that I was bad because I was an addict. They would tell me that I was so bad for what I was doing that I didn't deserve to get treatment or to have a happy life. I didn't deserve love from anyone, especially myself because I became an addict. What I didn't realize is that I had fallen into this. I had four surgeries in four years. I was given medications that weren't monitored very well. 

The biggest turning point for me when I got treatment was to be able to look at my situation over the past eight years and have compassion towards myself. My addiction no longer defined me. The shame was no longer there. I was doing to best that I could to cope with the issues I had in my life. Taking pills served a purpose for me. They helped me cope when I didn't know how. Now that I have the tools to cope with hard things in life, I no longer need the pills to feel better. 

I would like to tell anyone who is silently struggling with anything to look at your situation and have compassion. You were/are doing the best that you can. You are not bad. 

By doing these posts, I want to shed light on tough issues like these. I want non addicts to have a direct window into the life of an addict. I want people who are struggling to feel my love and understanding and know they are not alone. 

Here are some recovery quotes I found on Pinterest: 

I was so high when this pic was taken, that I don't even remember taking it. When I look at this, my heart aches thinking about how much shame I carried. 

I especially like the last pic. So true. 

I am overwhelmed by the amount of love and support I have received from writing these posts. Like I said, I really have no idea where they are going, I am just writing as the thoughts come to my head. I will be sharing as much as I am comfortable enough with sharing at the pace that I am comfortable sharing it as well. Love you guys!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chapter 3: My Secret

Many of you have reached out to me saying, "I had no idea". Don't feel left out. Nobody really knew the extent to which I had a problem. Sure, some people knew MORE than others, but nobody really knew how bad things really were and how bad things had gotten over time. 

There were many times of sobriety during my addiction. The most sober I was over the past 8 years was from November 2011-August 2012. During the time I was in DC, I only used medication as it was prescribed to me. During that year, I thought I had conquered my addiction. I thought I was through with abusing prescription medication for the rest of my life. But, as soon as life got really tough for me, I would go straight back to my favorite comforter.

One a year ago last December, things got really bad. In my life, I felt empty. I didn't feel like I had a purpose. I felt extremely depressed because I wasn't perfect. My lack of perfection was the strongest driver in my addiction. I thought I had to be perfect to be loved. I did all of the right things in my life and still wasn't perfect and didn't feel loved. Mostly, I didn't feel worthy of love, therefore, I would try to escape my imperfect reality through the numbing feeling of drugs. 

So last December, I was able to get my Dr. to start prescribing me bottles of 120 of my favorite pills each month. Then, I began mixing drugs. I mixed with everything. Other tranquilizing medications, alcohol, and sometimes even marijuana. For the next year, my life spiraled downward fast. 

On the outside, I portrayed the perfection that I wished I was: moving up quickly in my career, dating cute boys, and buying my own house. On the inside, I was constantly worrying about my next fix and how to escape the negative thoughts I was always feeling about myself, and quiet all of the negative self talk that I had constantly. 

Here's some pics of when I got really skinny due to the fact that all I ate for months were pills: 

Like I said in a previous post, I was down to 110 and I am normally 125

My life consisted of going to work and then going home and taking pills and escaping. I worked long hours to escape, but when I wasn't working, I was most likely passed out from the drugs. 

Luckily, I moved into my sister's house in July and stopped the scary cycle for a few months. But as soon as I moved back out on my own in October, my old ways crept up on me again. Luckily, I was able to catch myself and realize I needed help. I wasn't okay with the quality of life that I gave myself over the last 8 years. I was ready for rehab. 

I am so grateful for my addiction. It has taught me more about myself than I would have ever known otherwise. It has taken me to the place I am at right now, and I am finally truly and completely happy after 8 years of darkness. 

Writing about my struggle and my weakness on here is so liberating. I don't have to be perfect anymore. I love myself. I don't hold onto relationships that aren't healthy anymore, because I know my value and worth. As I have gotten to know myself, I am pretty rad! I am excited for you all to meet the real me. Not the "I have to be perfect to be loved" version or drugged up/numbed down version of me. 

If you don't like who you meet, that's okay, because I love me and that's all that really matters!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chapter Two: Candy

To be honest...I have no idea where these posts are going. I am just writing my story as the words flow through my head. 


Pills became the world's finest chocolates. 

Any social situation needed something to take the edge off. Work was easier with a little candy in me. Sleep was possible. Running didn't hurt. School wasn't stressful anymore. Being alone wasn't scary. But most importantly of all, life was possible  without Byron in it.

My favorite candy became the tiny baby blue circles: Fioricet. 

Initially, my Dr. gave me Fioricet for tension headaches, stating that it was a very safe medication for my chronic headaches. 

At first, it just took two to knock me right out. At the end, I took a whole bottle to barely feel the same effects. On my last day gulping down these little enemies, my therapist ended up coming to my house and sitting on my couch to make sure I lived. Luckily for me, I did. 

That's how bad things got for me.

These magic little pills became more important than everything. More important than work, friends, sleep, food, family, water, even my life. I would give my life to feel the effects of these gnarly barbiturates. 

I got down to 110 pounds. My whole body broke out with crazy acne. I isolated myself to my bed and gulped the candy as quickly as it came.  My mind was consumed with how to get my next fix. My entire life spiraled downward as I lived with this big secret.

Sure, at first it was just candy. Just something that made me feel good for a bit. Something to do recreationally, or something to take if I was sad and didn't want to feel sad anymore. I would quickly learn that this candy was more like poison to my life and soul.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Chapter One: The Beginning

As promised, I am going to share my story of addiction. How it came about, the lows, the highs, and the end (my favorite part). 

I share this to give insight, share hope, and allow my story to be told. 

Let's start at the beginning. Nearly eight years ago, my world shattered when my brother-in-law Byron died unexpectedly. Being the "strong" person that I thought I was, I hid my grief from everyone. I believed that sadness, hurt, anger, etc were all "bad feelings" that didn't deserve a place in my life. I didn't allow myself to feel them. So instead, I felt numb. I was so sad/hurt/angry that I didn't know how to carry on. I didn't know how to  live in a world with so much sadness. So I refocused and ignored my inner feelings. 

I refocused over to soccer. This wasn't a bad thing- except that it allowed me to mask and numb all my feelings that I was feeling and pretend I was okay. It didn't force me to face my feelings- that I would have to face 8 years later. 

There were very few people in my life that knew the extent of my suffering over this loss. I didn't tell anyone. Instead, I stayed strong all day and then I cried when I was alone every night for almost an entire year. 

This carried on for almost my entire Junior year of High School. Then, I discovered a way to completely numb my feelings that seemed like a shadow everywhere I went- my prescription medications. 

They were so easy to get. Obviously with the tragedy that just occurred, I could get anti depressants/anxiety meds and sleep aides to help sedate me and medicate the emotional pain as well. Along with those meds, it was also easy to get pain killers and other sedatives due to the injuries I got in soccer and my chronic headaches. By the time I reached my senior year of High School, I had an entire pharmacy...and so did my friends and their parents. We would have sleep overs and bring all of our medications and the meds in our parents' medicine cabinets. 

The whole summer before my senior year of High School was a blur of "pharm parties".

At first it was just for fun. Then I discovered I could actually escape the emotional pain that had followed me around for almost an entire year. From that summer forward, I would struggle with an addiction to prescription medications. 

To be continued...