As a young girl my parents always encouraged me to be involved in the community. They wanted me to play sports, participate in after school clubs, and interact with other children. I had trouble finding the motivation to go do these activities. When I did I never really felt like I fit in with others. I would always prefer playing alone in my backyard on my swing set. I had a wicked imagination as a kid. Some kids go through a phase where they have an imaginary friend or two. I didn’t have just one imaginary friend, I had a whole boarding school of them. I would pretend that I was the most popular girl in school. I was the lead singer in a band, I was the prettiest of all the girls, and all the boys wanted to be my boyfriend. In reality, I had really low self esteem and didn’t feel like other kids liked me. I was always scared to be myself. I couldn’t sing, I was slightly overweight, I hated my appearance, and I was way too young to date boys. I always preferred playing in this imaginary world because in this world, I liked who I was. I was outgoing and fun. This was the beginning of years of isolation and depression for me.
As a teenager I found out that drugs and alcohol were the perfect solution to the way that I felt. After stealing a few drinks from my parents liquor cabinet and smoking some weed, I felt comfortable in my own skin. I felt happy with a new outlook on myself and on life. I could interact with others and not worry about what they thought of me. Drugs quickly became an important part of my day to day routine.
In the following years of adolescence and young adulthood, I became an opiate addict. Pot and alcohol had stopped working, but opiates did. Then I could no longer get prescriptions for opiates, so I sought out heroin. Eventually, that stopped working too. No matter how hard I tried, I could not stop getting high. I sunk in to a really dark place emotionally. I overdosed several times, and each time I was mad that I woke up. The last time I got high, I loaded up my needle and was sure that it was enough to kill me. When I woke up, I knew that I needed help. I either had to die or find a way to stop feeling the way I was so tired of feeling.
It wasn’t until I went to rehab at a dual diagnosis treatment facility that I was diagnosed with depression. At first, I didn’t really think I was depressed, I thought I just had a drug problem. In treatment I was prescribed antidepressants. I was willing to take anything to make me feel different from the way that I felt.
I had a wonderful therapist with whom I had individual therapy sessions twice a week. She helped me talk through various times in my life, starting with my childhood. She pointed out all the early symptoms of depression that I had shown from a young age. Isolation, lethargy, lack of interest, and anxiety. She explained to me how it can be hard to identify mental health disorders when somebody has a substance use disorder because many of these symptoms are overlapping. I came to realize that I suffered from depression long before I was addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Today, I have a year and a half sober and I am properly medicated to treat my depression. Not every day is great, but on the majority of days I have the motivation and energy to get up in the morning and start my day. I incorporated a lot of things I learned in treatment into my daily routine that keeps me healthy and balanced. Some of these include prayer, meditation, yoga, and being a part of a support group for people who struggle with addiction. I now look forward to going out with friends as well as introducing myself to new people. I have friends who hold me accountable today and don’t let me isolate. I feel as though I have a purpose to help others recovery from drug addiction and co-occurring disorders. I have a life worth living today, which is more than I could’ve ever asked for.
Cassidy Webb is a 24 year old avid writer from South Florida. She works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.