Hello my beautiful people! Yesterday I moved into college! What?! Still feels so surreal. For my third installment of this year’s back-to-school series, I have a very special guest writer on my blog today: my brother. Braden is one of the most articulate and eloquent writers I know, and his story is one that I know affects such a wide array of people. He graciously accepted to write this post for you all in hopes of reaching someone who is or has a loved one who is struggling with an addiction. It’s real and it’s hard. This is something that has been on my heart as I enter college because I know that there will be other people who fall further and further down the rabbit hole just like Braden did. Watching my brother struggle with this was very hard for me, so if any of you would like to further this discussion with my Braden or myself, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments or through email. So without further adieu, here he is: my brother and my biggest inspiration…
Step 1? I highly suggest not waking up from a black-out in the local drunk tank on your move-in day. As far as suggestions go, I’d recommend starting your college career off with LITERALLY anything else. However, as human tradition dictates, I never was great at following my own advice.
Maybe I should have called it quits after that first night. Maybe I should have called it quits when my mom looked me in the eyes before she left, and said,
“You’re not going to make it here.”
But, I guess I thought I could prove her wrong. Thus began my quest to prove my mother wrong (and have a good first semester…right?). Friends were hard to make, drugs were easy to come by, and I ended up blacking out about half of the times I went out that fall. I’m not sure where or what was wrong. Perhaps it was a combination of struggling with change, not knowing anyone at my school beforehand, and a High School origin history of (fanatical) drug use. Regardless, I made it through my first semester, but just barely.
It was the first week of my second semester when I snapped my collarbone, and thereafter found a doctor willing to prescribe me 40 Vicodin every 2 weeks for the next few months. Between actually having difficulty carrying things and using my arm and a restarted opioid dependency, class was nothing to me anymore. I was doing nothing but sitting around all day. Smoking weed. Playing Xbox. Feeling sorry for myself. Eating pills. It was fucked up – pardon my language. But there was some appalling level of apathy that kept me from recognizing the situation for what it was.
Ultimately, I had essentially failed all of my classes by Easter. One class I had not attended a single time that entire second semester. While I was visiting home, I told my parents what had been going on and we made the decision that I would withdraw from school and come home to work.
Sitting here, 2 & a half years later, writing this, it is hard for me to summarize what all I have been through. There’s no master key, no ultimate guide to working through the things that took me out of the hunt for a degree. However, I can provide some incite into how I went from dropping out of school, to being an opioid & heroin addict, to sobering up and returning to school, to breaking my back, to relapsing, to going to rehab, to living in a half-way house for 6 months, to returning home to start a band and record an album, to writing this blog post the same day as my first single is released on Spotify.
What can you do?
- First of all, be grateful for the opportunities you have. Not just in school, but everywhere and for everything. Gratitude is something that was key in my learning to deal with unhappiness in my situation. There’s always something to be thankful for, and if you can remind yourself of that, the bad can sometimes seem a little less terrible.
- GO TO CLASS. GO TO WORK. DO SOMETHING. I cannot stress this enough. If you’re goal is to gain a degree, you don’t get that by sitting and messing around. You earn it by working hard. If you want to do anything in this life well it’s all about understanding that things need to be done. There’s a time and place for planning and such, but success comes in the little things you do everyday to set yourself closer to your goals.
- For gods’ sake, please stay away from Opioid Painkillers. As I’m sure many of you know, the epidemic of addiction today in our society is widespread, and lethal. But please listen to me as someone who’s been through it – you DO NOT want to. I’m not going to ramble about it, but please remember to only take the medicine post-surgeries & injuries AS PRESCRIBED. I don’t know any of you, but I love you all enough to want to see you live.
- THE FAM IS KEY. A massive problem with how I operated was isolation. I kept my family at a very long arm’s distance away from me, and I never really tended to let my friends in. Relationships with family and friends are vital to staying in a good place. These are people you can always count on, and while sometimes they’ll help you even if you treat them poorly (lucky for me in my case), it’s often a much bigger positive on your life if you have good, maintained relationships with them.
Honestly, it’s a big world and there’s a lot of hurdles. Coming out of High School most people’s thinking is a little smaller than what it will become after some time in the real world. So I’ll just leave y’all with this:
“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”