Thursday, August 10, 2017
Story #1 - National Suicide Prevention Week - #StopSuicide - By Chris Boutte
My name is a Chris, and I’m a recovering opioid addict and alcoholic. With 5 years sober, I now have the honor of working at a drug and alcohol rehab center helping people who were in the position that I once was. I’ve seen many, many success stories, and I can’t stress that enough, but with the good also comes the bad.
A few months ago, I received extremely sad news. One of my clients who I thought was doing well had passed away from an overdose. I’ve had more people pass away than I’d like to admit, but sometimes it hits a little harder. I was speaking with a friend about the grief I was experiencing and how I didn’t understand, and my friend said, “Maybe this is what he wanted.”
Right then and there, a flood of memories came back from the final months of my addiction, and I remember that feeling. I remember it far too well because that’s where I was. I don’t think we talk about addiction enough when we talk about mental health, and we need to.
Much like many others who turn to drugs and alcohol, I suffer from mental illness. My symptoms of anxiety and depression grew and grew during my high school years, and then it got to a point where I decided to try alcohol as a way of numbing the pain I was feeling. It didn’t take long for me to completely lose control, and the solution to my problems quickly became one of the primary sources of my problems.
In early 2012, I was deep in my addiction, and this was after multiple attempts at getting sober. Many of my friends and family members stopped talking to me because I couldn’t stop lying to them, stealing from them and letting them down. The worst part was when I was no longer allowed to see my son because I couldn’t stay sober, and I was putting him at risk.
I eventually reached a point where I was so disgusted with myself that I didn’t dare turn on the lights in my filthy apartment because I didn’t want to see myself in the mirror. My depression was out of control, and I was miserable. I wanted to stop using, but I couldn’t. I felt that this was my fate, and there was no helping me. Each night, I went to sleep with a handful of pills and a bottle of rum hoping that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning, and I was angry that I did.
This is something that MANY addicts deal with. We don’t want to be alive anymore, but we want the drugs or alcohol to be what takes us out.
My body was shutting down, and I was going to the emergency room regularly just to sucker them into giving more pills. Luckily, they realized something was very wrong with me, and they admitted me. They called my mom because she was my emergency contact and told her to come to Las Vegas as soon as possible because I may not live through the night. At 26 years old, I had congestive heart failure, and I was alright with that.
The next morning, with my family begging me to get help, I told them to just give up on me because there was no hope for me. My depression had such a dark hold on me that it told me that my son would be better off without me.
Fortunately, my family didn’t give up on me.
My mom took me back to California with her and helped me get sober. Early sobriety was extremely difficult though because I felt as though I had lost everything and I would never regain a normal life. Now, without the alcohol and drugs, I was depressed with no way to numb the pain.
In my experience, I find this is one of the most difficult things for people when they get sober. Without the drugs and alcohol, they don’t see a point in living without getting drunk or high, so they either relapse or worse.
Something happened though. I don’t know how or when, but I found hope by listening to other people share their stories about how they had been where I had been and through a lot of work, they now had amazing lives. I clung onto that hope with everything I could, and I stayed sober one day at a time. Each day, as I continued to work on my mental health and friendships with people who loved me, the depression slowly went away. I started to see that a better life may be waiting for me, and it definitely was.
They say that if we never experienced pain, we’d never truly know pleasure, and this is my experience. I’m grateful for what I went through because now, I wake up every day excited for what life has to offer me. I have my son back in my life, and he’s my biggest fan. I’ve been able to rebuild my relationships with my friends and family, and I’ve also been able to make many new friendships.
I found my purpose in life through helping others, and that’s what gives me the strength to keep going when my depression blindsides me. It’s still there, but it’s manageable. Now, I take my experience and use it to help others. This year, I decided that only helping the people in my rehab wasn’t enough, so now I do a lot of work online to spread the message of hope to anyone out there struggling with mental illness.
Feel free to follow me on social media:
You can also learn more about my story in my book HOPE: http://amzn.to/2rEXiWi