I decided on New Years Eve that I was going to stop taking the opiates I've been on for over a year now. Cold turkey. I honestly didn't think it was going to be a huge issue, I was sure it would be a little uncomfortable but I was pretty sure I was prepared. I want to get healthy again. I want to not be fuzzed out all the time. I want my sleeping habits to get back to normal. With all these positives in mind, I took my last pill of the year at eleven that morning. By three o'clock the next morning I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable but I was doing it. I made it past the stomach cramps and the irritable feelings but by forty hours in, my muscles were spasming out of control. It was like restless legs syndrome all over my body, simply the worst feeling in the world. I tried to sleep. I had taken 1mg of Ativan to ease me through the worst part of the withdrawl and help me sleep. It didn't help. I took a second mg of Ativan and then a third. Finally I broke down and took a pill. I felt defeated. I can't believe I didn't make it. It was the longest forty hours of my life and I couldn't make it. The feeling of wanting to rip off my own skin was too much for me to handle. I hate to admit it but I think I'm going to need to seek professional help to get off these meds. When I think back to this time last year, after Calvin had just died and I was sicker than sick with e. coli, addiction to the meds never occurred to me. The soft fuzzy blanket of numb that wrapped itself around the sharp edges of my pain appealed to me. Instead of the searing emotions, that feeling of having my heart repeatedly ripped out, my grief had become numb. Bearable. At the time, I needed it. I wanted to die in the months that followed Calvin's death and I couldn't stand the pain. The infection was a vehicle for the meds, a means to an end. In the months that followed, more pelvic problems that required strong pain relief. What should have been my first clue was when I started buying pills off the street. In January of last year at one point I had three different strengths of Dilaudid, Morphine, Percocet, T-3's as well as Valium and Ativan. I was mixing them to adjust the degree of numbing I was used to. It's amazing to me that I didn't overdose and die. At one point, I ended up going back to my doctor and telling him I needed a prescription for long acting pain relief. He put me on a twice daily dose of hydromorphone contin. I've been down to just those two pills a day for a little under six months now. I didn't think it was going to physically kick my ass this hard to try and get off them. I'm disappointed in myself. I'm disappointed that I hid my pain in pills for so long that I'm physically addicted. I'm scared about how I'm going to make it past the withdrawl to get off them. I don't want this life anymore. While at one point in my grief I wanted to die, I now want to live for my daughters, for my husband and for myself. I hate what I've done to myself.
Not only am I ashamed at the "distaste" I've had for people with addiction problems, I'm ashamed to realize I am one of them. I've always prided myself at never getting into street drugs more than smoking a little pot when I was a teenager. I've never done cocaine, or acid, or ecstasy or any of the other designer drugs out there. I've always been very cautious about drugs, always a little on the square side. I haven't even drank alcohol more than four or five times in the last five years. Yet here I am, comfortable enough to take pills because they come with a prescription and then to buy them from people I know because I've taken them before and know what to expect. It's terrible to realize you've become one of "them". Not only that but it's shameful to me that I've been not giving myself the chance to fully feel the extent of my grief. In some ways, I'm not sure how things would have gone for me had I chosen to plunge headfirst into the darkness of my grief after losing Calvin. I do know there were several days that I contemplated taking my own life after he died. I felt a failure as his mother, for not being able to protect him, for leaving him to lie in the ground alone. I felt it was my responsibility to be with him because it went against everything in me to "abandon" him to death. I hid away in the drugs until I could talk about him without screaming, until I could get past the feeling of wanting to rip my hair out and fall to the ground pounding my fists and wailing his name. In truth, I wonder if I will plunge into that abyss once I'm off the pills. I hope sufficient time has passed that it's bearable. I hope that coming out of the fuzz will renew my energy, reinforce the committment I've made to spend more "kid" time with my girls, playing with them and enjoying their childhoods. I know I have to do this, that I WANT to do this. I'm just not sure HOW to do it now that I've failed miserably at going the cold turkey route.
I guess part of me is also afraid of being judged. I worry how people will perceive me as a person, as a mother, as a sister, as a friend now that the extent of my addiction is out in the open. I worry that people will realize that I'm not strong at all, that I couldn't face the death of my child without burying my feelings in pills. I worry that there will be condemnation for what I have allowed to happen to me or that people will nod and say "So that's whats been going on with her." Part of me wants to shout and rationalize and list all the terrible things that have happened since Calvin died and say, "See, see what I've been through this year?", as if those things would give me a reason. And while yes, there are reasons, I do know that other people survive tragedies also and they do it without burying themselves in a prescription bottle. I'm determined to hang onto my identity through all of this. I don't want to be thought of as an "addict" or have the consequences of my actions define who I am. I am still me. I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, and a daughter. I am a woman who has been hurt terribly in my life and is still standing. I am a survivor who has made the decision to live rather than die. I am a woman with hope, for myself, for my children, for my family. It's not going to be easy and I'm sure I will need support in the days I am feeling discouraged but I do know this is something I WILL overcome. Please say a prayer for me.
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