Accepting Grief and Conquering Addiction:
By Christina Underwood
Being a teenager is hard. It’s a time in our lives when everything around us seems to be changing, whether we’re ready for them to or not. Perhaps one of the hardest changes we can go through in our adolescent years is losing a loved one unexpectedly. It’s a devastating experience that has a way of knocking us off our feet with a force we’ve never known before.
This kind of blow — on top of everything else going on in their lives — can cause some teens to fall into such despair that they lose their way in life. When Megan’s son passed away while she was still in high school, her addiction took a turn for the worst. We had the recent opportunity to speak with her and she shared her journey of grief and loss, substance abuse, and overcoming it all to put the pieces of her life back together.
Growing up in Wyoming, Megan explained that a rocky home life led to her early experimentation into the world of drugs and alcohol in her childhood:
“My dad and my mom drank a lot. I took care of my brother. I was sexually and physically abused. And eventually, that led to hanging around people that drank and used drugs.”
When she lost her son, however, Megan fell into a deep depression. Unable to pull herself out, she slowly fell away from her responsibilities.
“[My son’s passing] was really hard for me. I just grew so fast,” she said. “And that’s when I pretty much stopped going to school for the most part. I stopped playing basketball, and I would get to the point where I wouldn’t get out of bed unless I shot up.”
Her moment of clarity
For some in the midst of depression or a tragedy, there comes a time when it suddenly becomes obvious that something has to change. They might see it in the eyes of a concerned loved one, or look around and realize how out of control their life has become. For Megan, it was the latter — and the moment she said that saved her.
“One day I woke up and I looked next to me and there was a spoon, and there were used needles,” she recalled. “I had lost my house, I was living with somebody else, and the way I paid my rent was with drugs. I just woke up and had this overwhelming feeling of, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t.’”
She picked up the phone and called Michigan’s Best Drug Rehabilitation to inquire about inpatient drug rehab. Megan said that at first she had cold feet, but her intake counselor helped her take the next important — albeit, frightening — step toward recovery.
“He just kept encouraging me to come. I would come up with every excuse, but he said, ‘No, you need to come,’” she remembered.
Even though she was afraid, Megan knew she had to find a way to take her life back and find happiness again. She just needed help getting there.
“Through all of it, I had this overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t do this anymore. And I just didn’t know how to stop,” she said.
Finding the help to heal
Even when they have the best intentions, people tend to see you a certain way when your life has hit hard times. Whether it’s battling depression, suffering a great loss, or becoming buried in a substance addiction, it often seems that others see you for your tragedy, not yourself.
But Megan said her fear of being judged disappeared the moment she walked into treatment:
“I just felt very, very welcomed. They didn’t look at me any different than somebody else.”
She added that her time in rehabilitation helped her learn to love herself again. Her counselors guided her to find the self-confidence she needed to get back on her feet, to be able to deal with her past pain and move into a happier future. Perhaps most importantly, Megan was able to see that there is light among the darkness, no matter how hopeless it seems.
“They helped me realize that there is a way to fix it,” she said.
If you’re feeling lost — whether because you’re battling depression, lost a loved one, or are struggling with substance abuse — know that it is always possible to live the happy life you deserve! We can rarely achieve that entirely on our own, so never be afraid to reach out for help.