Today is April 5, 2015, and I am celebrating 20 years clean and sober from addiction. 20 years ago I was admitted to a psyche ward after weeks of abusing drugs and alcohol in a nightclub called “the Tunnel” in New York City. Which is a story in itself. Because of the abuse, I had a drug induced manic episode, which led to my dual diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder type 1 and addiction. So, the journey begins.
The first seven years were years of severe ups, downs, and many hospitalizations. I struggled with acceptance. I couldn’t bring myself to admit I had a problem. I accepted my addiction, because it was something I could control. I could go to meetings and choose not to drink or do drugs. But accepting mental illness took a lot more time, seven years to be exact.
Finding a job was always easy for me, keeping it was the problem. From 1995-2002 (the first 7 years) I always seemed to lose every job I had. It was because of my non-acceptance of my illness. I would take my medicine when I remembered to which would cause all kinds of bad sleep patterns, and then I would wake up late and miss work. This happened more times than you could imagine. Because I took my medicine when I remembered, sometimes I forgot to take it at all, which would lead to mania, which would lead to the psyche ward, which would lead to unemployment.
It was a viscous cycle.
What was it that made me accept my mental illness? It came from someone who truly saw beyond any labels I had and accepted me for who I was. That’s when I started believing in myself. I Love You Tracy.
In 2002 I decided to go back to school and get certified in phlebotomy and also to become an EKG technician. In 2003 I was certified in both and got a job being a lead phlebotomist for a company called Biolife. It was a part-time position but was promising because it had healthcare and I was able to afford my medications and doctor’s appointments.
Soon to find out, my job at Biolife was coming to an end because they were shutting down. I worked there for two years, and then I applied to the Public Works Department in the town where I was living. I was asked to get a permit for a CDL license. It took me less than a week to get it and I called the office immediately, and then I was asked to come in for an interview. I got the job.
October of 2005, I started the DPW.
Soon after, I proposed to Tracy.
November 10, 2006 we were married.
December 6, 2007, my daughter Grace was born.
March of 2008 we bought a house.
May 4, 2010, my son Jameson was born.
November of 2011, I created Instinctive Bird.
From Recovery to Stability
a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength:
the state of being stable:
When I was dually diagnosed in 1995 I wanted to return to a normal state of health, mind, and strength in my recovery. I always put one foot in front of the other even though it seemed like one step forward and two steps back. In recovery life is like a roller coaster, up, down, and turned around.
Once I found acceptance, my journey got easier. I started to believe in myself. I started to move in the direction of stability. I’ll never be 100% stable, (but, who is?) I know now, that I can live a functional, productive life.
I am truly blessed. Today I celebrate 20 years. Today I am a husband, father, public worker, and advocate for mental illness and addiction. I feel like I was raised from the dead.
I want to thank my loved one’s who never gave up on me. I want to thank my wife for her acceptance of me that shifted the scales from a state of recovery to a state of being stable. I wanted to be better. I had to get better. I never gave up.
Never give up.