There is a line in the TV show “Schitt’s Creek” where Patrick asked David what happened to him in his childhood that was so traumatic and David responds, “Nothing really, I just didn’t like it.” If there could be one line that explains my relationship with my childhood, it would be that.
I grew up healthy and in a happy home. Both of my parents are still healthy and happily married for twenty seven years. In the span of twenty seven months, they had three healthy daughters: my older sister Emilie, and my younger sister Elizabeth. I was a happy-go-lucky kid. However, in October of 2006, when I was seven years old, my aunt passed away suddenly in the middle of the night. She was healthy, so it was a complete shock to my entire family. However, I was so close to that aunt, my mother’s first reaction to hearing that her sister had died was, “How am I going to tell Bridget?”
Two rehab facilities and lots of therapy later, I’ve realized how deeply that situation has impacted my life. My father was a truck driver and would leave the house at two o’clock in the morning, and I would stay awake until I heard him leaving so that I could hug him goodbye and tell him I loved him, because I developed this paralyzing fear that all of the people that I love would suddenly die.
Growing up, I made great grades, played a lot of sports, and had a lot of friends. However, I still had overwhelming feelings of depression and anxiety, which manifested a lot as agitation. I would take my anger out on my family and friends, and because of that, I struggled a lot with friendships in high school. Going through middle school and high school, I still had that overwhelming anxiety and depression, but I never tried drugs or alcohol until I was 18. My parents tried everything they could to help me – I saw psychiatrists and therapists but nothing they gave me worked. It wasn’t until I walked into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous that I realized I don’t have mental health problems, I have a spiritual problem.
When I turned 18 and was about to graduate college, I met a guy named Alex and fell in love. A few months before graduation, my grandmother passed away, and because of how distraught I was, Alex gave me a Xanax to help me feel better. Up until that point, I prayed to God every night to please find me the magic pill that would make me feel like a “normal” person. At the time, I truly believed that God answered my prayers with that Xanax. Immediately after trying it, I went to see my pediatrician and he gave me a prescription for it. I went to see a new psychiatrist and told him how well the Xanax worked, and he gave me a prescription for 90 Xanax pills a month. By this time, I had started college. I lived at school, and I was only a 40 minute drive from my house. But I was so homesick and lonely and too anxious to try to make friends, so I started to abuse the Xanax.
I made it through my first year at college with a 1.2 GPA. That says a lot considering I graduated in the top 10% of my high school class of 650 students. However, I still didn’t believe I had a problem with pills. I started making some friends, and ended up living off-campus my sophomore year. I got a job at an ice cream shop on campus, and even though I was making good money, I was spending so much on pills because my prescription could never last me the entire month that my parents ended up having to pay my full rent for me each month, even though we had agreed I would pay half.
In the middle of my second semester of my sophomore year, I had my first “God moment”. I don’t know what made me do it, but my mother was driving me to see this new psychiatrist she had heard great reviews from, and I walked into the appointment with my mother and came clean to both of them. The psychiatrist sent me to the hospital to be detoxed, and I dropped out of school because of that. I was discharged from the hospital after a week and set up to attend a Partial Hospitalization Program five days a week. I wasn’t ready to get sober, so I purposely took a xanax so I would fail a drug test and be kicked out of the program. I was kicked out on my mother’s birthday, and she had to drive 30 minutes to come and pick me up. At this point, I still didn’t believe that I had a problem.
A couple of months later, after trying to work at a local restaurant and getting high on the job constantly, I knew I needed to do something. I went to see my city’s addiction therapist, and she sent me to an in-patient treatment center in Florida for 30 days. I still wasn’t ready to get sober, and I spent my time there kicking and screaming for them to send me home, saying things like “I don’t belong here, I’ve never done heroin or shot drugs, I’m not like these people.” I was discharged and promptly relapsed one week later.
After this, I got a job as an intern in my city’s City Hall. Because of that job, I met a woman with four kids who asked me to babysit for her, and occasionally I would babysit for her. I also met another woman who was looking for a secretary for a law office in the next town over. I took the job on December 2, 2019, and my last day was February 28, 2020. While I was working there, I was high pretty much every day. I was alone in the office a lot, and there was a lounge for the lawyers, so I would put a sign on the door saying there was a meeting in progress and take two-three hour naps when I was supposed to be working. At the annual Christmas dinner the office throws, I got drunk in front of all of my coworkers. At this point, I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t care enough to do anything about it.
Luckily, the lady who offered me the job called someone at City Hall and asked them if they could hire me so that she wouldn’t have to fire me. I started at City Hall in March of 2020 as a full-time employee. My boss ended up being the woman who had asked me to babysit for her a couple of times, and I ended up babysitting for her almost every weekend. I was taking adderall during the workday, and xanax at night. It all came to a head in November of 2020 when I got a phone call in the middle of the day from my mother telling me that the man who rented the first-floor apartment in our house died suddenly from Covid. I was an absolute wreck, and I couldn’t leave work because I didn’t have any more vacation or sick days. I ended up being sent to the Employee Assistance Program, which turned out to be the same therapist, Kristen, who had gotten me into rehab back in 2019.
Kristen took one look at me and knew I was using again. She said, “They didn’t say anything about drugs, but I can tell you need detox.” So the next day I packed a bag and went to Clearbrook Treatment Center up in the Poconos. I stayed there from November 21, 2020 until January 5, 2021, and I really believed that I wanted to stay sober. I missed my birthday, the two-year-old I used to babysit for’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. My parents told me that they didn’t care that I wouldn’t be home for all of those events as long as I got healthy.
Two days after I got home from rehab, I got a phone call from my pharmacy saying they had a prescription for Xanax waiting for me. I immediately picked it up and got so high that I crashed my car. Luckily, the cop didn’t charge me with a DUI, but all trust was gone with my parents. I stayed on disability until March because I was too ashamed to return to work. During that time, I babysat a lot for that same family, and the kids became like brothers and a sister to me.
In March, the kid’s mom told me if I quit my job and became a full-time nanny for them, she would cover the student loans that I still owed money on. So I did that, and we immediately went on a two-week vacation. We flew from Newark to LAX, and rented a tour bus, and drove all the way up to Wyoming, hitting all the tourist attractions on the way there and back. It was the vacation of a lifetime, and I didn’t have to pay a dime for it.
We got back from vacation and I became the kid’s full-time nanny. I loved the job so much, but I was still struggling with taking Adderall during the day and Xanax at night. It all came to a head on June 16, 2020 when I took half a Xanax bar in front of the kids. The bar ended up being laced with fentanyl, and by the grace of God I didn’t need to be narcan’d, but I obviously lost that job and have no communication with the parents anymore.
The next day, I just remembered wanting to be dead. I’ve heard people in treatment talking about feeling suicidal, but I really never understood the feeling until I felt it myself. That night, I wrote out a suicide note and had a plan to walk the two blocks to the local bridge and jump off when my parents left for work the next day. For whatever reason, my dad didn’t go to work the next day, so I didn’t do it. Instead, I took a nap and instantly felt better. I don’t know if my dad will ever know that he saved my life that day.
Healing takes time, and I need to give time time. But in the 68 days, I’ve been sober, my life has improved drastically. I got a job at a local diner waitressing, and I no longer have to give all of my money to drug dealers. I’ve made friends in AA and I know how to be a friend today. My parents trust me a little bit more now, but that will take time as well. My sister Emilie still doesn’t speak to me, but I’m giving her time. There was once a time when I swore I would never go back to AA, and now I’m grateful every single day that I gave it another shot.