On Drugs: Part III

[read time: 5-7 minutes]
[trigger warning: alcohol & drug abuse]

I was now 23 and living back at home. I was disgusted with myself, mad and ashamed. Throughout everything I was still dealing with the pain in my leg from my disability, as well as trying to keep my trichotillomania under control. 

I continued to drink every single night. The only saving grace about moving away was the fact that I had no access to drug dealers – for long. 

It is a known fact that people go to bars to meet other people. So, I did that to find a coke dealer. It was not hard. I managed to find three. 

Once again, I was back at it: snorting drugs all night, staying away from my parents’ house for days at a time, partying with people I barely knew and, honestly, sort of hated. 

During this time, I went to college to complete a basic degree in office administration. It was a far cry from my initial aspirations of becoming a teacher and writer – instead, I would be someone’s office bitch. 

In 2011, I sort of lucked out and got a really good-paying job. (Perhaps this was because of my office administration certificate… lol.) 

After the first day of training – yes, the first day – I got wasted that night. I stayed up all night with my boyfriend at the time and did coke. I did not sleep at all that night and went into my second day of training tired, hungover, still drunk and still high. 

That was the day they took my ID picture. 

I looked haggard. My hair was a mess, my face was all oily, and all I could manage was a sneering half-smile. 

When I received my ID at work a few days later, my stomach dropped at how bad I looked. This would be the face I would have to look at for the next five years. 

The amount of times I went to that job still drunk and high and awake from the night before is too many to even count. The amount of times I called in sick because I was hungover and awake and still drunk and high is also too many times to count – it’s even more. 

How did I not get fired? I was part of a union, simple as that. 

I want to pause here and give myself some credit. Despite my disease of addiction, I was still a good person. I volunteered at many different places. I donated time and money. I was even able to buy my own condo, with my own money, at age 26, ALONE. I made so much money I owed taxes. I still read voraciously in an attempt to stay connected with my old self. 

Before I knew it, it was 2015. I had wasted four years of my life at this corporate job that I absolutely detested. I was way too sensitive to work the job I was working – being a manager and dealing with, literally, the customers who want to speak with a manager – and it was destroying my soul. 

If the job itself was not bad enough, my coworkers were worse. To this day I do not speak to one person who I worked with during that time. They made fun of people who had diseases. They made fun of me in the throes of addiction. 

Keep in mind that I was still dealing with my leg pain and trichotillomania in the background of alcoholism. Besides these physical challenges, I was also attempting to deal with the PTSD I was carrying around from my failed attempt at university. (Once I got diagnosed with PTSD from my years at university, I would joke that my PTSD had PTSD. Truth.) 

Who do you think of when you think “drunk”? Do you imagine a bum passed out in the gutter, with a five o’clock shadow and a paper bag concealing his booze gripped in a fist? Who do you think of when you think “drug user”? Do you imagine a skeletal frame, sores on her face, barely able to walk in a straight line?

I was both of those things – in my own way. I passed out in many random and likely unsafe places. I did not pick at the skin on my face, but at the hair on my head. 

One day, while at work, hungover and coked out – again – I began to break down. I did not even realize what was happening at the time. I had likely just dealt with some asshole customer or some shithead coworker and simply could not take it any more. I knew that, for some reason, even the booze that night would not take the edge off this time. 

I left work early and went home sick. Little did I know, but I would not return to my job for nearly a year. 

After I arrived home, my full-on freak out began. I was shaking and crying – to this day, I cannot remember what it was over – and called my mom for help. Soon, I had an appointment with my doctor.

In a few days, my doctor saw me. I finally confided in someone that I had major issues with alcohol and drugs. I cried and cried in her office. She gave me tests to take about anxiety and depression. 

Together, we made a plan to keep me out of work and try to get sober. I was then diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, to which I was given medication to take. (Spoiler alert: they DID help.) 

So, in 2015, while off work, while attempting to get some fresh air and get better, I went for a drive to a pond. On the way back, I was in a major car accident. I was driving and was rear-ended at over 100 km/hr on the highway. Surprisingly, I was not drinking nor drunk at that time. 

I walked away, albeit with whiplash and an injured shoulder. I soon began physiotherapy and massage therapy, luckily all covered by my work plan. 

When a cab arrived to take me away from the crash site, the first stop was the liquor store. 

The second stop was my drug dealer’s. 

This crash cemented something within me. I knew, deep down, that this was my wake-up call to get sober. Despite the fact I was not drinking and the crash happened in the middle of the day, it still affected me enough that the first thing I turned to for coping was booze. 

I began to see a counsellor. I worked with the HR department at my job to see about going to rehab – they would even pay

Despite this offer, I declined. If I got myself into this mess, it would have to be me – and only me – who could get myself out of it. 

I drank the rest of 2015 away, and started 2016 feeling like shit. I would turn 30 in a few months, and I asked myself seriously: do you really want to be living this same shitty life for the next five, ten years? Do you really want to go into your 30s being a drunk? Do you continue to want to be known at work as the alcoholic and have everyone gossip and make fun of you behind your back? What do you REALLY want to do? Can you do it? 

[stay tuned for the final instalment tomorrow. Do I get sober? We will see…] 

Published by Erica Black

Erica was born with a rare disease called an arteriovenous malformation in her right leg. She is now an advocate for those with disabilities. She left the corporate world in 2016 to pursue a career as a high school English teacher and began to blog along the way. She has a BA in English Lit and minor in Creative Writing. Her writing has been featured in The Martlet, The Globe and Mail, Heroica, and more. She enjoys cats, reading, and her daughter.

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