When my past calls, I don’t answer, it has nothing new to say

It’s been nine years since I last took a drink. Nine years since I woke up with the crushing guilt of another night lost to alcohol, the fog of hangovers clouding my mind and the ache of regret settling into my bones. Nine years since I decided to break free from the chains of addiction that had shackled me for 12 long, painful years. Today, as I celebrate this milestone, I reflect on the journey that brought me here and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Addiction is a beast that thrives on pain, fear, and self-doubt. For years, I drank to escape the relentless chaos of my undiagnosed bipolar disorder and severe ADHD. Alcohol was my coping mechanism, my numbing agent, my temporary reprieve from a world that felt overwhelming and hostile. The highs and lows of bipolar disorder coupled with the constant restlessness and impulsivity of ADHD created a storm inside me that I didn’t know how to calm. So, I turned to alcohol, believing it was the answer.

But it wasn’t. The more I drank, the more my life unraveled. Relationships crumbled, jobs were lost, and the light inside me dimmed to a flicker. I was lost in a haze of broken promises and shattered dreams, unable to see a way out. Until one day, I had convulsions in my house after a heavy night of drinking. I couldn’t stand up; my legs were wobbly and I felt like my floor was caving in. I was sure that if I could only get a drink the withdraws would be managed and go to the office, but this time around I did not have a drink close by. It was the wake-up call I needed. With the support of loved ones and my employer, I was admitted in rehab for a 90-day program. That marked the beginning of my journey towards recovery.

My road to sobriety has not been an easy one. It’s a path fraught with obstacles like self-stigma, societal and cultural expectations and temptations, but it’s also a path of immense growth and self-discovery. In the early days, I was haunted by my past. The memories of my failures and the weight of my regrets were constant companions. They called out to me, luring me back to the bottle, whispering that I was unworthy of happiness, undeserving of a fresh start.

But I learned to silence those calls. I realized that my past had nothing new to say and no comfort to offer. It was merely a reflection of a time when I was lost, a time when I didn’t have the tools or the knowledge to manage my mental health. I couldn’t change what had happened, but I could choose how to respond to it. I could choose to learn from it, to grow from it, and to use it as fuel for my recovery.

Through therapy, I began to understand my bipolar disorder and ADHD. I learned coping strategies that didn’t involve alcohol. I found solace in routines, in mindfulness, in medication that stabilized my mood and calmed my restless mind. I discovered the healing power of community, surrounding myself with people who understood my struggles and celebrated my victories. I reclaimed my life one sober day at a time.

Now, nine years sober, I can say with certainty that recovery is a continuous journey. There are still challenges, moments of doubt, and times when the shadows of the past try to creep back in. But I’ve built a resilience that allows me to face those moments with strength and clarity. I’ve created a life filled with purpose and joy, a life where I am not defined by my past but by the person I am today.

Celebrating this milestone is not just about acknowledging the years of sobriety; it’s about honoring the hard work, the perseverance, and the unwavering commitment to my mental health. It’s about recognizing the beauty of second chances and the power of transformation. I come from a society that stigmatizes mental health and that still affects my recovery. I have chosen to share about my recovery journey as a way to fight the stigma attached to addiction and other mental health conditions because I have come to learn that; When I keep quiet, stigma wins and I can’t let that happen.

My lived experience is a testament to the fact that no matter how deep the darkness, there is always a way out. There is always hope. So, when my past calls, I don’t answer. It has nothing new to say. Instead, I look to the future with optimism and gratitude. I continue to embrace each day with the knowledge that I am stronger than my addiction, that I am capable of overcoming any obstacle, and that my journey of recovery is proof of the indomitable human spirit. Here’s to nine years of continuous sobriety, and to many more years of living a life free from the shadows of the past.

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