[read time: 7-8 minutes]
[tw: alcohol and drug abuse]
I began to live with a boyfriend during my third year. One night, when we were drinking on our patio, we noticed the people across the street from us drinking on their patio and yelled back and forth and soon became friends.
That night was the first night I did cocaine. I loved it. It was exactly what I had been looking for: made me sober up, friendly, and fun.
Not too long after this, I developed a major ovarian cyst. One night, while drinking with my boyfriend at the time, I had sharp pains in my abdomen that I could not ignore. For a while, I had a bloated stomach and assumed I had a UTI. But that night I insisted on being taken to the hospital, so my drunk boyfriend dropped me off at the emergency room and left to go party.
Before long, I was admitted to the hospital with a life-threatening cyst. The doctors even contemplated removing an ovary – that is how serious it was.
Luckily, with major bedrest and painkillers, the cyst eventually shrunk and went away on its own.
But, with this health scare, I wanted to quit drinking.
I began to spy on my boyfriend through the windows of our apartment, while he hung out with the people across the street, doing coke all the time.
I soon moved out.
At first, moving out was the best thing I could have done: I was free of constant drinking, free of the cocaine.
I regained my health. I was working as a barista at the time and had 5am shifts – my absolute favourite start time. I was, and always have been, an early riser. I liked being able to start and end my work early, so I had the rest of the day to do things. I would work in the morning and go to university in the afternoon. I had it made.
A few months into the new year, about halfway through my third year at university, a new guy was hired on at the coffee shop.
I was lonely, I was single, and soon enough he and I began to date.
One night, we were partying with all his friends, who were all new to me at that time. I still remember being in his house along the beach, playing a drinking game with his friends, when he motioned for me to come meet him in the kitchen. I got up and went over, and discovered he had set up two lines of coke.
My stomach and heart sank. I was desperate to be liked, desperate to have friends, desperate to not be alone. I had already been drinking at that time, and my consent was impaired. I only missed half a beat and then took up the cut McDonald’s straw and snorted.
Now, it was cocaine combined with alcohol that would rule the next eight years of my life.
Before long, I stopped doing work for my university classes. I began to skip class. I even went to class high on coke once.
I quit my barista job and began to work at a deli. One day, I seriously injured my back there. I went on worker’s compensation and used cocaine more frequently and heavily. I went to my physiotherapist’s appointments high and after not sleeping all night.
The barista guy and I broke up. Despite this, I still called his dealer and bought coke. I spent thousands of dollars a month on it. All the money I had saved up for my future and future education was snorted up my nose.
I remember it was February 15, 2007, when I decided, once again, to skip class. I had not done the work I needed to and was not ready. I went out the night before for some Valentine’s Day thing at some club.
Memories of clubbing are hazy: I was high, drunk; smoke machines skewed my vision; and ever since, I’ve tried to forget about my clubbing life. I made out with random dudes. I fell down. I made mistakes.
I spent the day on my couch, feeling like absolute shit for skipping my writing workshop. I threw up all day. I berated myself. I promised myself that this was the last time I would party.
By this point, my addiction was bone-deep. Nothing else mattered except drinking and doing drugs. I often used alone, every night. My friends commented on how skinny I looked, when I finally crawled out of my apartment hole and saw them months later.
I would be so drunk and high that I would have to psych myself up for hours just to get the confidence to go outside. I would worry that I looked fucked up, haggard, high.
Which I did.
I would worry so much about going out to buy a pack of smokes at nine in the morning, when I normally ran out, that I would rip up butts from the ashtray and use a zig zag to make a new cigarette. My makeshift smoke might last me an hour, but inevitably, I would have to venture out.
My heart would beat 100 times too fast. I would never be able to get a full breath of air. Anxiety overtook my life while hungover and being high took the depression away. I couldn’t stand being sober now, because coming down was even better than flying straight.
I did not stop using; rather, I used more. I was so disappointed in myself and felt like I dug an unfillable hole. I gave up on my dream of attending my dream school and my dream program, because I could not stop drinking and doing drugs.
I dropped out.
I languished in this city for the next year and a half, imbibing and snorting alone or with other people. I spent so much money that my power was cut off. I dealt with the situation by getting drunk and doing coke all night – in the pitch black.
By the end of 2009, it was evident that my lifestyle was unsustainable. I was not working (I was still collecting cheques for being off because of my injured back) and I was spending all my time and money drinking and doing drugs.
The breaking point came when a guy who moved in with me – supposedly, my husband – went out one day and drank to the point of stupor. Surprisingly, that particular day I was incredibly sick – with an actual cold – and did not join him for day drinks.
When he arrived home that evening, he was wasted and looking to fight. After a few swipes at me, I pushed him back. When he landed on his wrist – hard – it broke.
He called the cops on me.
After they came, they arrested him. I took all his belongings and dumped them out our 8th storey window.
I got my key back from him via a friend. I have never talked to him again.
I moved out a few weeks later, back to my parents house. The night before I moved, I had one last hurrah to myself. I drank and did coke all night. When my dad and brother arrived the next day to help move my belongings out, I was useless and spent most of the time in and out of consciousness on a blanket on the floor.
I left that city behind. I was safe again, in my parent’s house. Away from drinking, away from drugs, away from all those people who were not my friends but only wanted me to spend money on them and party with them all night.
The first night back at my parent’s house, my mom and I sat down and had a glass of wine together. I told her that I felt like I failed.
I had gone from a fresh-faced, happy teenager to an ashen, skinny, shrunken shell of my old self, in only two and a half years. That is all it took for my dreams to be shattered and destroyed. I had only moved out from my parents’ house a mere five years before.
Now that I was back at home, you’d think I would smarten up and quit drinking – right? That I would say to myself: well, now you’ve gone and done it, screwed it up and ruined it, so now go make it better!
Nope. Because of my actions, I was now dealing with major PTSD and did not realize it at the time, until I was diagnosed years later.
[part III is coming tomorrow. Stay tuned…]