The Fall and Rise of the Addiction Blogger
We were the problem child of the blogging family. The wild child. We got messed up, we hurt ourselves, and many of us hurt others and broke the rules. Sometimes we got punished by the system, but mostly, we punished ourselves.
We dug a hole down to dark places, we lost ourselves and we hit the bottom. Those of us who are writing about it now also dug our way back out.
After a time of recovery, we pieced our minds and our lives back together, and now we've put our hands up to help.
We’ve made a decision to shine a light to help others navigate through the darkness.
Years before, these same people were gambling addicts, heroin addicts, opioid and opiate addicts, methamphetamine addicts, cocaine addicts or part of the enormously large group of alcohol addicts.
These same people are also our friends, our partners, our brothers and sisters, our children, our parents, our neighbours and our work colleagues. They’re the people that serve you at the bank, the chef at your favourite restaurant, your hairdresser, the actors you see on TV, your favourite musicians, nurses at your local hospital, they are politicians and police.
People who develop addiction come from all walks of life. Addiction is a hungry beast that does not discriminate.
Many addicts are also really nice people. Underneath our socially-approved external mask however, many of us are unable to cope with uncomfortable emotions such as anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loneliness, lack of self-love or perceived social awkwardness. So we numb these feelings any way we can.
I was an addict. I had serious, long-term addictions to crystal meth, gambling, marijuana and alcohol. I’m also a compassionate person who always helps strangers, and who lets insects out of house because I don’t want to hurt them. Yet paradoxically I was ok with hurting myself. For years I numbed my own dysfunctional emotions until I eventually ruined my life through addiction.
It takes different catalysts for people to stop their addictions. Sometimes - like me - you lose almost everything that mattered to you. Sometimes it’s an overdose and sometimes it’s prison. Maybe your partner packed their bags and left, after begging you for the 20th time to seek help. Sometimes Child Protective Services takes your children away, or you crash your car, lose your job, lose your home or your license. Many people lose their sanity. Tens of thousands of people each year aren’t able to break free of their addiction, and they lose their physical lives.
When I started writing, I became aware of how many sober blogs, recovery blogs and addiction blogs were out there. I read honest accounts of people’s stories on a level of damage and shame near my own (or even worse).
I admired the guts it took to tell stories that no one else would tell – stories of the catalysts and turning points which came out of hitting their different versions of rock bottom. People who put aside any pride they might have had left, and bravely choose to share their stories on that chance that they might help someone by speaking out.
Now I was part of a new, important group. And this group is growing bigger by the day.
This group isn’t growing bigger because it’s seen as cool or glamorous like the travel bloggers or fashion bloggers, and everyone aspires to be like us. On the contrary - I don’t think anyone aspires to be an addiction blogger, because this means you’ve got to be an addict first…
This group is growing bigger because right now - from the US to all the way to Australia - we are experiencing a global addiction crisis.
Record numbers of people are becoming the addicts that we were.
In this time of addiction epidemic, we need to hear the voices of the people who were the addicts to show that THERE IS A WAY OUT. It’s important that this message comes from the people who have experienced it firsthand - if we made it out, then you can too. We can help you not to feel so alone, and we can share our stories and tell you what helped us to recover.
Firsthand experience offers a different point of view from educational experience. It’s a different thing to have experienced addiction, than to have learnt about it, and we need both sides to tackle this massive and complex social issue. We each have different stories and different lessons, and we can each teach something different than what the next person can.
We’re different people now from the addicts that we were. We’re clear now. We’re in control of our actions, and many of us have addressed the emotional issues that led us to becoming addicts in the first place. We have a new level of insight, and we understand how addiction can get its vice like grip on your life and rip it apart and turn it upside down.
It’s a cathartic process to move forward and transmute the experience of addiction into something powerful and positive. It feels good to give back and be of service to others, because we are greatly needed. So be brave and share your story. Help to destigmatize the subject of mental health and addiction. A powerful part of the healing journey is to help yourself first, then reach out to help others.
We’ve been down that dark lonely road. We’re the people showing you in our variety of different ways, you can do it and are not alone. We are showing you that you can make it safely back to dry land. When you’ve made it to dry land, first rest, then repair, rebuild and reawaken.
It’ll be a great day when addiction bloggers don’t exist at all. That would be the most positive sign that humanity is thriving on earth. Until that time, we will to continue to use our experience in the most powerful way possible – by sharing our stories and helping others to make it out also.
Rachael Styles writes about addiction, creates art and explores mindfulness over at www.lightinmyshadow.com
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