Bullet Points

-Struggled with academics in High School. I slept through classes and played sports. I graduated in the 48th percentile of my class (2010). I tried to take on Pre-AP Precalculus and was not successful. I could not handle the workload. I was able to pass Duel-Credit English, AP Art History, and AP Psychology.

-Accepted by The University of Texas in Austin. I was not able to manage my time well enough to participate fully in any clubs. I joined groups (Students Making an Impact through Love and Empathy, Texas Wake(boarding), but dropped out after being unable to commit. I managed to pass classes with medication & good friends to party with.

-I was diagnosed with ADD. I was prescribed medication. I never took more than prescribed. I had another habit I was supporting. I also had so much energy, I didn’t feel the need to abuse the medication. Using other substances medicinally lasted til senior year. It was then I decided I was going to manage life by myself.

-I graduated in May 2014 with a degree in Applied Learning and Development. I failed one course during my time at UT, but was still able to keep myself on track. I was able to get an interview with the help of my mentor.

-I was given a teaching job. I (attempted) teaching 3rd grade (all subjects) at one of the lowest schools in the district. I learned a lot that year about socioeconomics, education policies, and people.

-After a year of being written up (for professional difficulties), administration moved me to Pre-K. I loved it. Unfortunately, the population change determined I was to change schools. My lease was up, so I took it as a sign from God that it was time to move back to Houston. My SUD was getting worse, though I was undiagnosed.

-I moved back Houston and started teaching 1st grade. I was on a team with 7 other women. The younger group was very cliquey. The two older women had lives out side of work. I felt like an outsider. I started to realize that state of mind was not unfamiliar. I found a “doctor” to help me self-medicate. My SUD hadn’t gotten me in too much trouble for a while. I saved money living with my parents. I tried getting back in touch with old friends with little success. Everyone was busy living.

-After a year, my SUD was getting progressively worse. I was doing my best to “balance”and hide it. After my dad had a heart attack, I ran off to Downtown Houston. The guilt and shame was starting to hit me, I knew I had to get out. To maintain my image, I had to disappear. My new roommate loved to go out and party. I started going to work sleep deprived.

-My bosses started noticing a decline in my peppy personality. They sent me to professional developments, they tried to help me organize my classroom. I was a lost cause. They questioned my “passion for teaching” and asked if I was motivated to get better. They eventually told me leaving the job was my best option. I finished out the year and committed fully to supporting my bad habits.

-I worked as a waitress all summer. After doing that for a few months, I realized I wasn’t going to change careers on my own. In early October, I landed a teaching job. A school in Katy needed another 1st grade teacher because of population changes.

-In December, after staying out all night (doing a 12 hour power-washing job) I proceeded to stay up for the rest of the day. I experienced my first acute episode of psychosis. I swore I heard people arguing for hours. I drove to my parents, distraught. They found the medicine I had at the time and realized I had been hiding a lot from them for a while.

-My parents paid for a counselor. The counselor suggested going to IOP at the PaRC. I went to see the place and one of the nurses gave me a tour. I told her I didn’t need one but she insisted. A few months later I went back to start the program. I didn’t qualify. I had failed the drug test and to do IOP, one had to be 3 weeks sober. I did qualify for their residential level of care. I left and told myself that their policies were silly. I’d handle my issues on my own when I had to.

-I started once again struggling at work. I couldn’t handle the stress of a job I had been trying to do for five years. I began losing hope. I enjoyed teaching but couldn’t see myself ever being able to handle the paperwork. I had no idea how to reach out for help. After skipping lunches and becoming more noticeably anxious, my coworkers became distant. Someone came to me with “complaints”. It was not okay to put my head on my desk while the kids were gone. It was not normal to be attentive one moment and distracted the next. I couldn’t get off of the medicine without going through withdrawal.

-I was bitter and burnt out by the end of the year, but had made it through without getting fired. I told my boss I would talk to someone about my anxiety. I would try harder to become more organized. I would get better. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t come back to teach.

-A few days into summer, I snapped. I had been driving my guy up the wall. He went off on me and I had to leave. I was extremely upset and was not afraid to show it. He was good at giving me space that I did not want but really needed. We worried our parents and tried breaking up. We couldn’t be apart and kept testing our limits. The amount of money wasted, the energy we spent trying to save our relationship, all dissipated. We checked into separate treatment centers. I was diagnosed with ADHD and given new (non-stimulant) medication.

-After 30 days of not talking, we tried to follow directions we were given to stay away from each other. I still loved the guy. I never stopped loving him. I still love him today. Unfortunately, I hadn’t stopped craving my old ways of coping. Neither had he. We the more we saw each other, the more we realized we weren’t ready to let go. I started lying again, he started hurting, we started isolating, and I developed a nasty cold. I had gone back to work and realized I was still an outsider, sober or not. A few weeks later I was back in treatment after draining my bank account and admitting I hadn’t gotten better.

-I stayed for two weeks. I was kicked out of process groups. I had two mental breakdowns. I fought on the phone with my guy because deep down I was still conflicted. He reminded me that I had to learn to forgive myself. There would still be dark times ahead, but now we had the mindset and the tools to avoid another breakdown.

-I discharged the day before my birthday. When I turned 28 the next day, I felt more free than I ever had before. Even though I had a tendency to start future tripping, the panic was nothing to dwell on. I had faced my biggest fears. Everything I was most scared of was no longer taking control of me. I felt God’s presence, I asked him for help, and I believed his will was greater than my own. Since then, I have been seeing signs, getting little reminders of his love. His will allows me to live in truth and light. It gives me the strength to face my fears and live honestly.

-I have a lot to learn. For now, I try to listen to others without thinking too much. I am working on the job, as well as opening my mind to new ideas. I’ve been paying more attention to what goes on outside of myself. It’s still progress, not perfection, when it comes to taking suggestions and following directions. Though, now I better notice when I start rationalizing or justifying thoughts. I try to make amends whenever possible. I read and write more often than I used to. I pray and love honestly. It’s a daily thing for now. “All I know is that I don’t know.”

Published by Shea

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