Beads to Recovery by Carly Leigh
I’m not going to lie…I’m a bit of a mess. LOL. I’m a 34-year-old formerly homeless, drug addict and am currently in recovery. While beginning my recovery, I had a counselor tell me that I should replace the addict part of my life with something that I enjoy and is productive. Something that I can feel proud, or happy to do. That was when I took up beading.
I have always enjoyed making websites and being online, so when I started making jewelry, I had people ask where they could buy it, so I decided I would make an online store with a blog about my recovery and what I’m up to.
It is true that when you are doing something you enjoy – time flies and you don’t think about that nasty habit as much as you did before. I think that it was the best advice I’ve gotten throughout my recovery.
I plan to write my blog about my addiction and how my recovery is going along with what I’m doing with the business side of the website as well. If you have ever had an addiction to anything, doesn’t have to be drugs or alcohol, no matter what it is – it is still an addiction and if you have ever tried to overcome that addiction then you know how difficult it can be. Please feel free to post comments or send me emails if you are struggling with your addiction. Don’t be embarrassed about what it is. Whatever it may be – it is your struggle and you should be proud of the fact that you are trying to overcome it.
My So Called Life
Basically to make a long story short, in the last 10 years I’ve hit complete rock bottom. I lost everything including my home, my job, my pets, my friends, and everything I owned. Luckily I had my husband through it all because he is my rock as cliche as that sounds. It’s really the only way I can say it.
I have suffered from depression and anxiety for most of my life and this is one of the things that led to my addiction. It started off with alcohol but then switched to hard drugs. Day by day, it got worse and worse and I couldn’t admit that I had a problem. There’s no way that I had a drug problem.
For quite a while I juggled my addiction with regular life. I was a “Functioning Addict“. But as time went on I found I couldn’t do my job to the best of my ability anymore so I took a medical leave of absence. They actually offered to send me to rehab at this point, but I wasn’t ready for that yet. I figured I’d be back at work in a couple months. Boy was I wrong.
Looking back, leaving my job was the first thing in a long chain of events that sent me spiraling down to rock bottom. Our best friend passed away which led to losing my pets (except for 1 – my heart, my kitty – Cheese). During this time we lost a lot of people to drugs, but that didn’t stop me. I started stealing from stores to support my habit. Each day I would wake up wondering the same exact thing. “What am I going to do today so I can not be sick?” Most days we figured it out. But some days were torture. Basically it got to the point that I needed it just to be normal and not be dope sick. At this point I got really tired of hustling everyday so I got back on Methadone which is a lifesaver. It makes it so I don’t need drugs to be well.
We were homeless for about 2 years which during this time we stayed on people’s floors, couches, etc. Lived in a car, Slept under a bridge. Lived in hotels when we could. Then we met the greatest person we could have met. She was a social worker at the methadone clinic I went to and she started helping us do everything we needed to do,like get IDs, get on welfare, and she also got us on a waiting list for subsidized housing. We were about to have to go back to the street and I told her if that happened I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t have it in me to go back to the street after staying on a friends floor for 3 months. Basically I told her I gave up. I was finished fighting. We tried so hard to get a place to live but there was always some reason why they wouldn’t take us. I couldn’t do it anymore. It had really taken a toll on any progress I’d made with my depression and / or addiction.
It must have just been our time, because we finally got placed in our subsidized housing. The place we were placed was not great. It was full of addicts and it was dirty and falling apart. It was an old hotel that was made into apartments. I won’t get into how awful this place was because no matter what, I was thankful to have a home and be off the street. My addiction though, worsened living in this building because everything was so readily available.
After we had lived there for 3 months, in February 2019, I got a headache that didn’t go away for days and days. Then I started getting sick to my stomach and couldn’t eat or drink anything. Then my body started hurting so bad I needed help just to walk or go to the bathroom. Bend my legs? Forget it. I had been told to go to the doctor or the hospital for about a week but I put it off and put it off until I couldn’t take it anymore and realized that no, there was definitely something really wrong with me. So about a week and a half after I first started feeling sick I finally went to the hospital and immediately the intake person said “You’re really sick.” I got taken to a bed right away and the tests started.
Turns out I had contracted Endocarditis, which is a blood infection that goes to the heart. I was as close to death as I’d ever been. They told me that if I waited a couple more days to go to the hospital I would have died for sure. So began my epic 2 month hospital stay and the beginning of my recovery from Endocarditis AND my addiction. Basically they told me if I kept doing what I was doing, I was going to die – and soon. This was the time when I really accepted my addiction and my family – who had been in the dark about all this because I live on the other side of the country to them – now knew the horrible truth. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I was sad. I didn’t know how to feel. I was in pain for weeks, to the point of being wheeled everywhere on a stretcher and being moved with sheets underneath my body. I couldn’t eat for a month. I lost so much strength from this that I am still using a cane and a walker. I need a new heart valve. I have kidney disease and may one day need dialysis. It hurts to breathe because my lungs are still scarred from the infection. I get tired very easily and out of breath very quickly. I’m a 34 year old woman with a walker.
But, one thing getting sick did for me is make me realize that things needed to change and that I wouldn’t be alive much longer if I kept going the way I was. I talked to a lot of people and doctors while I was in the hospital and honestly for the first time that I could remember, I was actually thankful to be alive and actually wanted to live. Now I am working everyday on my recovery and bettering myself.
When I got out of the hospital in April I was approved for a transfer into a better subsidized building and for the first time in awhile things were looking up. I felt like there was nowhere to go but up. So we are in our new, better apartment. And I’m still not able to go to work, so Beads to Recovery is helping me in more ways than 1.
If my story, or me blogging about my recovery can help even 1 person. Whether it helps them come to terms with their addiction, makes them want to get clean, helps keep them motivated to stay clean, or to reach out to help someone else in the same situation. If just 1 person is inspired in some way by my story or blog – then it’s all worth it to me. Or maybe someone will be inspired to reach out to a loved one or friend or even a stranger who is struggling with an addiction. Either way – it’s more than I could ever hope for.