Wednesday 4 September 2019

My Journey Through Mental Illness, Addiction, and Recovery

By Kailey Fitzgerald

Growing up, I always felt like I didn’t fit in; I felt like I was a little off when compared to my peers. I had this terrible and seemingly constant feeling in the pit of my stomach when I would try to talk to other kids, and a ringing voice in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough. When I would accomplish something, I would find the reasons that it didn’t amount to anything and head down on a path of self-destruction.

Everything appeared perfect from the outside, but from the inside, I was absolutely falling apart. I managed to maintain until I was around twelve years old. I started to have violent emotional outbursts that I couldn’t seem to control, and it began to affect my relationship with my mom. She noticed that I wasn’t behaving normally and decided to send me to a psychiatrist. At first, when I was diagnosed with Intermittent explosive disorder and social anxiety I thought my whole life was over. I was only twelve years old and society had led me to believe that having any sort of mental disorder meant I was clinically insane; I was ashamed.

The medication my psychiatrist had prescribed me seemed to only make me worse, I began having suicidal thoughts and had socially withdrawn completely. My relationship with my mother was almost nonexistent and she was distraught. My explosive episodes were even more frequent, tearing apart any friendship or relationship I had left. I felt helpless because I didn’t want to respond to people in such anger, but I literally had no tools to control myself. My hopelessness led me to drugs. I began hanging out with an older crowd and attending highschool parties in order to find any substance available to calm the voices in my head.

For a while, the drugs helped me — or so I thought. To my friends and family, I seemed to be doing well. No one had any idea that I was drinking, smoking weed, and taking Xanax in order to attempt to quiet my anxiety and control my violent emotional outbursts. What I didn’t realize was that every time I took in a substance I was just covering up my issues and letting them fester over time, and as if that wasn’t enough, I was developing a drug addiction.

My addiction led me down an even darker path; abusive men, withdrawals, violence, and incomprehensible demoralization all became my new normal. I watched myself become a shell of a person and all the while, I couldn’t care enough to save myself. Eventually, I grew such a tolerance to the drugs I was using that they weren’t getting me high anymore. When I wasn’t high, I wasn’t numb, and all of my emotions came back with a vengeance. I spiraled so far out of control that I finally couldn’t take it anymore, and I FINALLY asked my mom for help.

Considering half of my family were members of Alcoholics Anonymous, they knew exactly what I needed. My mom enrolled me into a dual-diagnosis treatment center, which helped me learn to cope with the mental disorders I was suffering from and allowed me to overcome my addiction safely. I have found a life that allows me to not feel ashamed of my mental illnesses or my history of drug addiction. Going to treatment gave me the tools I needed to live my life peacefully, provided me with a group of friends who have gone through similar things as me, and has given me the strength to continue fighting when my mental illness may creep back up.

About the Author

Kailey Fitzgerald is a writer in recovery from PTSD, Anxiety, IED, and drug addiction. She is passionate about spreading the word and breaking stigmas regarding mental illness and addiction. She writes for The Discovery House, a treatment center in California.


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