Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Addiction Can Be a Killer

I never thought I would ever write about this secret part of my life, but I think enough time has passed that I can let it out. It's not a bad story, it is a true story, and there are much  MUCH worse cases of things happening to people. I am not expecting any lectures, or pity, or concern because all toll it only lasted about 2 and a half months, but in some cases that is a lifetime. In the end I know why I did it, that it is all on me and not on the person who caused me to do it. I am not writing this to blame anyone but myself because in alot of cases that is how addiction works. Someone may get you hooked on something, or you may be doing it to get over something bad that happened to you, but in the end it is your responsibility to take care of yourself and not let yourself get caught up in it. Again easier said then done. I am not here to lecture anyone. I am here to share a story because I feel the need to write, and nothing really interesting is going on that requires me to write a blog. Yeah the Ravens won the Superbowl, but my last two blogs were about the Ravens and I really do not have that much more to say on the subject. Yeah I am VERY HAPPY they won. Ecstatic that they won. But enough has been written. I have touched the Lombardi trophy, the last time they won it I was able to touch it. I have also worn a Baltimore Colts Super Bowl ring that Tom Matte let me put on. That's about all I have to say about that.

18 years ago I was addicted to sleeping pills. Well technically over the counter/on the shelf sleep aids that say non-habit forming. (Boy were they wrong). It was 1995, January. I was a Senior in College at school for our January mini-mester, then my final semester ever and graduation were staying at me in my face. I was dating a wonderful woman, who I will not name but those who were around me at the time know who it is.  And again I am not damning this wonderful woman who I feel nothing but happiness that she was in my life, and occassionally on Social Media she pops up and we chat. I don't hate her, I don't despise her, and I never ever blamed her for this. It was my own fault. She was my first real serious girlfriend and I had never ever broken up with someone nor been broken up to. She broke up with me near the end of the January mini-mester saying she changed her mind about me. For the longest time this was the thing that nagged at me, I thought we had something great and in the end it wansn't quite good enough for her. And the more I have reflected on it, the older I have gotten, the more experiences I have had, I got it. I realized what it was that screwed us up. And it WAS ME. I had never had any real experience on how to treat a girlfriend. I was good to her, got her stuff, was her sounding board, her companion, her friend. But I just did not enough for her. I really don't want to dredge up what it was that I didn't do, but the fact is I KNOW, and that is all that matters. It has helped me in the present because I am looking at my 10th wedding anniversary this year with a woman I love more than anything and two amazing children who I love just as much. We have been together for almost 13 years so I obviously have learned from my mistakes. But to get back on track so she broke up with me. I have never had that happen before, I was still madly in love with her, and now she could not stand being with me anymore. My heart sank, my brain fried and I tried to make sense of what was happening.

I was denying it, I was thinking I could do more for her now, so I bought her presents almost everyday and mailed them to her campus box along with letters declaring undying love and that I can change. And I was slowly becoming that horrible guy who instead of making her fall back in love with him, could very well be creeping her out more with all these gifts and letters. But I didn't care how I was coming off. I wanted her back. So with all that in my head I was finding it hard to sleep. So one day while grocery shopping I stumbled upon the sleep aid section. I was having trouble sleeping why not try these to give me a hand. We lived in the same dorm, our campus was very small, and I discovered that I unknowingly signed up for a class that I needed to graduate that had her and her friends in it. I was active in the theater company we had, as was she and our school was putting on a series of small plays directed by different people. I was cast in one of them, she was stage manager of another one, so again I was seeing her alot. So the constant barrage of seeing her caused me to keep buying more sleeping pills since they were working. So I kept buying them. And they were not cheap. Sometimes I would go to the grocery store just to buy them and nothing else.

I was not really paying attention in my classes and I was skipping the one she was in often. Call it apathy, because I had that to. This was my final semester, unless I really screwed up badly (which I still could at this time but that was not my mindset) I was graduating no matter what. I was passing my other classed though not in stellar fashion, but I was still passing. I was very quiet now, my friends had been living off campus all year and I was barely visiting them. I had my own room so I was not going out, I was staying in reading comics, watching movies, writing my newspaper column, doing school work and still trying to figure out ways to get her back. The pills were letting me sleep but I was becoming a hermit, on a college campus filled with other single beautiful women, or I could be hanging out with friends and having fun, acting goofy. No I was a hermit.

I'm still not sure what caused me to get out of the haze of the sleeping pills. Maybe I was running out of money since I did not get paid much by the cafeteria, and my mom and dad sent me money sometimes as well. So soon I was staring at the fact that I may not be able to buy the sleep aids anymore, that I needed to keep my money to buy things I really needed like food, or wanted like renting movies, or buying comics. Maybe I got a talking to by my teacher of the class I was skipping, or maybe a friend showed concern. I honestly do not remember. It may also be that the time came where I was facing no money and no pills and I was going to have to find a way to sleep on my own. So that was the night, whatever caused it, that made me say, you know what. You only have about a month and a half left before you are in the real world. This girl has given no response whatsoever to your odes of loving. She was avoiding you for good reason because you were verging on the edge of stalkerdom. She was two years younger then me and you were never going to see her in person again when you graduated and returned home to start your life. And maybe you have a problem and if you don't stop it now it could get worse and you could get into heavier things. So I stopped. I stopped cold turkey. That night was horrible, almost as bad as what I consider what withdrawal might feel like, but again not making light of people who are addicted to worse things, but that is what I imagine withdrawal feels like. Cold sweats, nervousness, shaking, trying to figure out what you can take that has the same qualities as the sleep aids. Pacing, bouncing around the room, turned on the tv to try to relax, reading a book that is boring like a school book to put you to sleep. Somehow I think I got some sleep. The next day things looked a little better. I got back into my schoolwork, slowly but I did. I started to move on from my someone I was now referring to as my Ex-Girlfriend. I was focusing on the roles I was playing in the play, and the cute girl who I had been hanging out with during rehersal and who was also in the show. I started feeling better. I started to be able to sleep on my own. I started reconnecting with friends in my Senior Class who I really had not hung out with in awhile, I was also reconnecting with my friends who lived off campus.

Soon it was Spring, I had weeks left in my college career. I had finally accepted the fact that I was now single, and took advantage of it with a nice couple of nights with the cute actress. Nothing serious, just fun. I finished my requirements for graduating, took my exams and then had a fun filled week of nothing but Senior activities. Trips to bars, restaurants, we did the annual 10th street crawl, I was hanging out with people in my class who were in the same boat I was. I was talking to former roomates and friends who had drifted out of my life. Fun stuff. The day before graduation my buddies and I went to see Die Hard with A Vengence in the movie theater. Then I graduated and I started my life.

Since that time I have not touched sleep aids, nor will I ever again. Nyquil is not so much a sleep aid for me since I literally cannot sleep after taking it. Maybe that was one of the side effects of the sleep aid addiction. Things that are supposed to help you sleep and fight disease do nothing for me. Though that is one sleep aid I can take. Well since it doesnt make me sleep!  Maybe things are opposite for me since Coffee makes me tired. For a few years I did take Ginseng supplements regularly, but that was actually to keep me awake because one of my jobs started at 330am. But I never got addicted to them. When I left that job I stopped taking them. No harm no foul, as non habit forming items are supposed to be.

Addiction is a serious business. It causes you to feel like you have lost control of your life. And it can screw up your life. I got lucky. It was a minor addiction to an item that really could not hurt you. It's not like the millions of people who are addicted to drugs, or alcohol. I do not claim that I know what that is like. Cause I don't. That addiction is serious business. But my main point is that all addictions can become serious. Even ones as small as sleep aid addiction. Addiction is you depending on something you really do not know, you have all the strength you need inside. You just need to be strong enough to find it. I was not strong enough, but I feel I have become strong enough now. It's a serious business, and it can kill you. You are strong, you just have to prove to yourself that you are strong enough. Easier said then done, but if Life were easy. You would never find that strength.


  1. You are brave for talking about this. I am honored to call you friend.

  2. Love you so much sweetheart! And I'm so glad you are stronger than you know.

  3. Thanks for sharing! You are a very strong person. I'm glad to be able to say I know you and call you a friend!