“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve struggled writing a post like this for around five years now . . . four years, two months and 24 days exactly.

That was the day I went into detox for a week . . . to begin withdrawing from opiates.

Not just some Tylenol #3, but full-blown Dilaudid.

Medical heroin, in other words. A form of pain medication that is legal, and 10x the potency of morphine.

I had gotten to the point where I was taking enough to likely kill someone, and I continued it not out of “fun” or out of pleasure—but because it was the only way I was able to physically function because I was so dependent on it.

This is my story.

The summer of 2014, I had gone to Mexico and somehow gotten a thorn lodged in my toe, which I didn’t realize was in there until October of that year. I ended up getting osteomyelitis, accompanied with a PICC line for seven weeks so I could get high doses of antibiotics to fight the infection. During that time, I began having grand mal seizures.

I know, living the dream, right?

We will get back to all of that in a second; a little backstory first.

I was 24 at the time, and was charge nurse over the pre-op department at our local hospital. Surgery was always where I wanted to end up working, and I was very lucky to be there right when I got out of school.

Being charge nurse requires working some long hours. I was usually there at 5:30, sometimes earlier if we had a lot of cases that day. I would try to leave around 2-3ish, and if I was on call I would possibly have to go back later that evening and then start the next day all over again. And to all the other nurses reading this—don’t mention the lack of pee breaks, guaranteed lunch and not being able to drink some dang water every once in awhile!

Every morning, I would gather report sheets to call on inpatients needing surgery for the day, coordinate who goes where, what patients needed to be seen first . . . then there were doctors asking where their patient was and why aren’t they ready yet.

It was high-paced and challenging, yet rewarding in every way.

It was also very demanding to me, and I never wanted to admit that it was.

As a disclaimer-anyone who already knows me is aware that I’m very OCD and I hate asking for help.

Spoiler: I never asked for help.
That’s where it all begins, isn’t it?

Not being able to say we need help when we are struggling? When we need help the most but are too proud to admit it?

After my toe infection, I was prescribed some pain meds. I’ve had surgeries before, pain meds before; this time in my life was much different than before, though.

I wasn’t taking care of myself.

I had no idea what the term “self-care” was, or what it meant to take a “personal health day” when I needed it.

I started taking those pain pills to help with the pain in my foot, and then I realized that they not only took away my physical pain, but they took away my emotional pain as well. They numbed me in ways that I could not achieve on my own, and they made me forget about how stressed and tired I was.

It got worse.

I started using stronger and stronger doses until I couldn’t NOT use them.

I did a lot of things I’m not proud of just to keep functioning in my addiction. I lost trust with people I was close to, and in turn, gained a lot of guilt and shame.

I kept underestimating the amount of control the drugs had on me, thinking I could stop whenever I wanted. “I wasn’t an addict, I didn’t fit the criteria.”

On April 17th, 2015- I had my 3rd grand mal seizure, and this time it was at work.

After going home from the ER, a dear, DEAR friend came to my home.

She asked me, “Do you want help?”

I did, desperately. I just had no idea what was going to be involved to obtain the help I truly needed. As well as not wanting to admit that I needed help.

Later that day, she drove me down to an inpatient psychiatric facility and helped check me into detox.

After a week in detox, I was sent home.

“Free” of my afflictions, or so I thought. 

I thought I was “cured” and that this was just a short hiccup in my years of life.

Addiction, once again, put me in my place.

I relapsed a whole two days out of detox, on my brother’s 29th birthday. At that time, I was so consumed in my addiction that I forgot to tell my brother happy birthday.

For the first time in 29 years, I forgot to tell my OWN brother happy birthday. I will never forget getting the text from him reminding me of that as well . . . never.

People assume addiction is for the lower class, the people who couldn’t make it through high school, or the homeless who just can’t afford any shelter because their addiction to meth and heroin has taken all of their money.

Addiction has no stigma, no boundaries. It doesn’t look at your tax return and determine if you are eligible for a drug addiction this year, or if you paid enough in your charitable work that you could be exempt from it.

It doesn’t grant you a pass to get out of jail free when you rolled your dice wrong. It takes you for all you’re worth and puts big motels up on every piece of property it owns.

When I relapsed, my loved ones (out of pure concern) tried to make me go to a 30-day rehab that same day.

The thing that no one told them, or me for that matter, is that you can’t help someone unless THEY want to help themselves. It’s a hard concept to grasp, especially for the people who love a person going through addiction.

So I literally kicked, screamed, and said a lot of not nice things to them when they were purely trying to help me. I regret all of that to this day, but I don’t regret saying no to treatment when I wasn’t mentally ready.

On May 1st, I admitted myself into a 30-day rehab in Hunt, TX.

I came home from rehab with something a lot of people will never experience: peace.

Peace about life, peace about my purpose.

It’s taken me a long time to finally realize this though, and I apologize to you all.

I’m sorry for not recognizing it earlier and speaking out about it before now. To let others like me know that they’re not alone. To own up and publicly acknowledge my mistakes.

To this day I still sweat when I tell my story to someone. I haven’t been able to figure out if I’m sweating because I’m fearing what they will think of me, or if I’m still ashamed of what I think of myself at times.

I came home to a world of uncertainty, change and most importantly, love. I was so scared to tell anyone my story because I didn’t want to lose a friendship over it or people to think I’m just some addict and was not the same person as I was before.

Thankfully, I’m surrounded by people who love and care for me and only want the best for me.

After attempting to make amends with several people, I felt devastated that some people wouldn’t even respond back to me, or acted as if they never knew me.

It hurt . . . not enough to make me fall, but enough to make my shame rise higher.

On the other hand, I also received love and encouragement from others I had reached out to at such a vulnerable time during my recovery.

Each day I’m thankful for those people. I hope I’ve told them that enough.

Growing up, I always thought addiction was a choice someone made. I always looked down on those people who become addicted to a substance in order to feel happy or accepted, when now having personally gone through it, I can understand the struggle.

I’m envious of the people who went to rehab and never once relapsed afterward, because that wasn’t my case.

I’ve had setbacks. I’ve lost a lot of things.

I’ve also gained a lot more though.

Addiction has taught me quite a bit: 

  • Make amends. Reach out to the people you may have hurt, or at least try really hard to let them know you’re sorry. I try every day to live up to my word to be the best person I can be for the day.
  • Those rumors you may hear about yourself that aren’t true, they are devastating. No one can make you feel shame quite like yourself, so don’t take anything personally. They haven’t lived your life, so don’t let their assumptions keep you from living yours.
  • And lastly, as I mentioned before, always be your best version. Whether it’s still in the making, you haven’t even started, or you’re already there. Don’t settle for mediocrity for yourself; it’s not worth anyone’s time to be less than what you’re meant to be every day.

I’m far from prefect. I’m far from an ideal example of a recovering addict in my opinion . . . but I hope this story is able to help someone.

I will never be “cured” from this disease.

It will be something I live with every single day of my life, as well as fighting it every day of my life.

I’ve had numerous people ask me why I’ve chosen to be more holistic or natural in my approach to illness or general health.

THIS is why.

Addiction to a man-made synthetic substance has truly shown me that I can be just as healthy, (even healthier!) with supplements and natural derivatives.

I’m not discrediting modern medicine, because I feel there IS a true need for it in acute situations. I wouldn’t have gotten into the healthcare profession if there hadn’t been a belief in new medications and innovative technology that can help others in need.

I also am a firm believer that there are other routes to take before you need this acute care though, and that if you practice a healthy and balanced lifestyle you won’t have to encounter complications.

Take care of yourself.




There will always be a higher power for you, whether it be God or simply the air that surrounds you. You finally need to give up your control and allow someone else to help you through your deepest darkest moments.

I hope this helps someone . . . whether it be the person who needs help but doesn’t know it yet, or the person who needs help but refuses to ask.

I’ve been both of those people, and there is a light at the end of this long tunnel of addiction.

It’s not a straight road. There’s not always a light at the end when you look. You have to stay strong and surround yourself with loving and caring people.

Whatever you do, don’t push them away.

There is a life after addiction.

After the fails, after the shame, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy.

Four years ago I thought I had no one, was no one.

Today I’m a wife to a wonderful man, a mom to two precious boys, and a much better person to all my loved ones because of my addiction.

Life goes on, and so do you . . . you just have to strive for it every. Single. Day.

If you’re struggling with addiction or any mental illness, please call this number and reach out to a licensed professional who can help: 

SAMHSA National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

You may also like:

“What Happened to my Daughter Can Happen to Your Child.” A Mother’s Story of Loss in the Opioid Epidemic

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now


About me? Well it's a funny story... I'm a previous Registered Nurse converted to the hollistic health lifestyle. I must credit my wonderful Chiropractor of a husband for helping, but it was by means of figuring out things on my OWN. Not by what people were telling me to do. We have two adorable little boys in our lives and his Dad and I are over the moon about them. We love days filled with relaxing, spending time with our loved ones and striving for a better life not only for us, but these awesome children we are so blessed to be able to raise.

To the Teacher Who Let Me Dance: Thank You

In: Living
Feet of a young dancer on darkened stage

If you would have driven through my neighborhood in 2008, you would have seen a strange and humorous sight: a 12-year-old girl dancing outside her garage, blonde ponytail flying.  You would have seen the long, bright orange extension cord hooked up to a silver boombox and the concentration on my face as I practiced the moves from class. I’ve never been a confident or carefree person, but as I danced, you would have seen a girl who was free and fearless.  But what you wouldn’t have seen was the teacher who made it all possible.  It was the great recession...

Keep Reading

Marie Kondo Has “Given Up” on Tidying Up. Oh Marie, We’ve Been Waiting for You!

In: Living
Marie Kondo in red dress smiling

Dear, sweet, adorable, impossibly neat, put-together Marie Kondo, Pull up a stool to my kitchen counter, won’t you, love? I’ve just shoved aside a pile of odds and ends (including a teal hairbrush, a candy cane-shaped tube of half-eaten M&Ms, a notebook, pen—sans cap, always sans cap—, last week’s third-grade classroom teacher letter, and a toy motorcycle I still need to superglue) to make space for you. Don’t mind the little bits of nail polish on the laminate I can’t magic erase off from an appointment at the girls’ nail salon last spring (at least it’s coral, and coral never...

Keep Reading

We’ll Get Through Daddy’s Deployment Together

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother, father, daughter selfie, color photo

“I didn’t think we did that anymore.” I wish I could attribute that to one person, but I’ve heard it from multiple people when I’ve mentioned that my pilot-soldier National Guard husband is deploying overseas. Yes, we still do that. Men and women still suit up every day to carry out various missions, both valuable and confusing, around the country and the world. And for the whole of 2023 that includes my husband. My partner, my co-adventurer. The one who will use our flight and hotel benefits from his day job to visit Hawaii for three days on a pre-deployment...

Keep Reading

I Was Never Good Enough for My Mother, So I’m Done Trying

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman walking away

I’m on a path in life that is so different from what I ever imagined growing up. It’s a path I’m not even sure I consciously choose. And it’s a path that exhausts me. I grew up with a narcissistic mother, and I was the scapegoat. No matter how I tried, I could never gain my mother’s love. It was love that was tainted with conditions and taken away at any time—and that was often. And thus, I tried harder. Best grades, best behavior, cleanest room. It never worked. I was too fat. My thighs were huge—make sure they were...

Keep Reading

I Am an Immigrant Mom

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and toddler in sunshine

I have many moments of What did I get myself into? during the day, especially when one of my kids is screaming at the top of his lungs and the other is having a make-believe experiment in the kitchen. We’ve heard countless times that raising kids is hard, but raising kids as a first-generation immigrant is harder. Obviously, there is no competition for who has more struggles or whose life is harder because child rearing is hard. Period. But this piece is specifically aimed at shedding some light on the unsung heroes, our so-called, first-gen immigrants raising kids in a...

Keep Reading

The Emotional Cost of Teaching Can Be Too Much

In: Living
Empty classroom desks and white board

“Do you ever regret leaving education?” I send this text to multiple former colleagues.  I feel a pain in my heart and tears swelling in my eyes. To be honest, I’ve thought about writing this multiple times but have always pulled back due to second-guessing myself. My goal as you read this is to not ask for sympathy but rather to be honest with you—and actually myself—in hopes that this time, I realize it is my time to go. RELATED: Want to Know Why Teachers Are Leaving Education? It’s Because We’re Exhausted Thirteen years ago, I proudly walked across the...

Keep Reading

I Went No-Contact With My Toxic Mom: Here’s What It’s Like

In: Living
Toddler girl looking out over mountains, color photo

Two and a half years ago, with tears in my eyes, an ache in my heart, and an eight-month pregnant belly, I walked off my mother’s porch for good, and I never looked back.  The month after I left was probably one of the most chaotic times of my life. My husband quit his job, I packed my house up into a 14-foot cargo trailer, moved into a new home that I bought online, then drove 2,100 miles to it with my husband and our 18-month-old daughter. I immediately hired a brand new OB-GYN and had my C-section birth alone...

Keep Reading

This Is Not a Drill: Ted Lasso Season 3 Is Almost Here!

In: Living
Ted Lasso Coach Nate Apple TV+ still shot

Confession: Ted Lasso didn’t interest me at all.  Soccer is not my thing. I live in the kind of Midwestern state where soccer is code for “I’m either freezing on the sidelines watching my kid play in 40mph winds and snow, or sweating so much I’m sticking to a camping chair in 100-degree heat, there is no in-between.” It’s just a fact of life for us.  So when the Apple TV+ series first crossed my radar, I skipped it. Who cares about soccer (nee, fútbol for our European pals)? Then my husband and I needed a new series to watch...

Keep Reading

There Are a Lot of Families Simply Trying to Get By

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman buying eggs

Times are tough right now. If you’ve been to a grocery store lately, or a gas station, or anywhere really, I’m sure your wallet is feeling it. I know mine is. My family falls somewhere between low and middle income—like so many families around the world.  We’re just on that line where we don’t qualify for assistance, yet we also don’t quite make enough to comfortably pay bills and have much leftover for anything else. And, boy, are we feeling it lately with prices the way they are. We stretch our food and our budget as far as possible, but...

Keep Reading

Hey Girl! Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Welcome Rainbow Baby, Esti Maxine

In: News
Luna and Miles holding their new baby sister

UPDATE: Hey girl, hey! We finally have the details on the new addition: Welcome to the world, Miss Esti Maxine Stephens! This rainbow baby is already clearly adored, which was apparent in the debut photo Teigen shared of her being cradled by her older siblings. According to her Instagram caption, Daddy John Legend “sheds nightly tears of joy seeing Luna and Miles so full of love.” Teigen also apparently gave birth for the first time via C-section, which she shared with the realization she still has to wear diapers. She says “the house is bustling and our family could not...

Keep Reading