How Instagram Opened Up An Invaluable Conversation About Addiction

by Matt Peet
*Trigger warning, please be advised – this article features sensitive content regarding addiction*

I got a message on my Instagram saying ‘Love your page man! Keep up the good work’. Me being me, I wanted to say thanks for getting in touch and that his throat tattoo was class. We then got talking about what his throat tattoo and how it represented his own struggles with addiction. At the time he was 1673 days clean and he’s since continued to grow in his recovery.

After learning more about him, I felt that his experiences could really help others, so I decided to interview him for the blog.

First off I would just like to say congratulations on your hard work and commitment to breaking free of addiction. What would you say was the hardest part? 

To me the hardest part about the addiction was admitting that was what was actually going on, you live in a denial stage where no matter what you constantly tell yourself you are not dependent on something when you are you get inside your own head to much and everything is a struggle, people questioned me and kept a close eye but I kept at the fact there was nothing wrong. So in reality first facing the fact you were an addict of sort, but then trying to come clean and get away from it definitely was the hardest part for me.

What would you say lead you on the road that you have been down?

What lead me on the road…? There was a mixture of things – to start with I was a victim of a very serious and unprovoked attack in my early teenage years, I was attacked by a group of around ten people, kicked and punched to the body and head, smashed into shop windows, arms held back to stop me fighting back as they punished me with blows to the body and face. This lead too many physical and several mental injuries, an onslaught of depression anxiety and fear. This caused me to struggle with day to day living, when I should have been a flowering bud, I was withering away.

After my terrible attack I watched my best friend get hit by a lorry, seeing his lifeless body at such a young age – never dealing with grief before or loss in any way – this took a terrible toll on me and my already ongoing problems. Due to it all I lost work and slowly the will to go on with life.

I started to search for a coping for a way to help me cope – taking pills was a silly answer but at the time made me feel numb and blot it out so there for made me feel whole again.

When did you start to think that you might be an addict or did you have to have it pointed out to you?

I guess I never realised I was addicted or an addict, it was more a case of it being pointed out to me by my behaviors and actions. An ex-girlfriend now but a girlfriend at the time took notice of the empty boxes of painkillers appearing when night before they were almost full. A few times I had tried to say I must have woke with a headache and just took too many but in reality I was taking them constantly. As more and more people realised I became more ignorant, I started taking in the open, blatantly! As my body ached with other pains I realised that painkillers had started to cause me pain physically.

How did it affect your normal day to day life?

I hardly ever ate, I struggled with sleep, was in constant pain because although it was numbing a mental or physiological pain, physically it was doing my body damage all along. It heightened my anxiety, made me withdraw more and more from people and society. It cost me friendships and more importantly, relationships.

I sometimes think that I have an addictive personality, would you say the same about yourself?

I would agree that I have an addictive personality also – this makes being a recovering addict all the harder, you latch on to something else in the replacement of your previous addiction.

After experiencing such traumatic life events, do you ever look back and wonder it was fate?

I couldn’t say it was fate no – fate to me is generally a happy ending, devastating grief and assault wouldn’t come under fate to me no, unless I believe I deserved the punishment.

Was there anything that you enjoyed about your addiction?

The feeling of numbness and freedom was enjoyed but it never lasted for a great length of time. In reality you’re only putting a bandage or plaster on something that requires stitches.

When I was at my lowest I did some very selfish things that I am not at all proud of.  Did your addiction cause you to do anything that was out of character?

… Sadly my addiction drove me to a point where I attempted to take my own life…I didn’t want to live like I was anymore, I took a massive amount of pills and hoped I wouldn’t wake… that has been my most selfish action. Really it was a cry for help.

What was your most hated part of your addiction?

At the time I didn’t hate anything about it…now I hate everything about it and myself at that time. The only way I can describe my addiction is disgusting and selfish. I should have spoken up about my feelings and searched for help in people and sharing instead I went down a lonely route which only lead to self-destruction and pain.

Could you offer any advice to other people who need help with their own battles?

My advice to anyone fighting addiction, mental health issues or even loneliness would be confide in people and speak up – It is perfectly OK to talk, It’s also OK to cry and show your emotion. Talking helps it allows others in and lets you see things from other points of view. As much as you see the glass half empty others will see it half full – always remember that you can replenish what’s in the glass. Do not be afraid of judgement by anyone and those who truly are there to help will never hold anything against you.

Try to find yourself a tranquil place for thinking and reflection, a little area where you and your thoughts can feel free. Somewhere you can go and just let go for a while – Whether it’s the drive there or whatever makes you feel good, it’s important to have time for yourself. I use a drive to the loch where in the hills I can just breathe, disappear for a couple of hours and just let myself be one with my thoughts.

Also on a side note for anyone who is a partner or friend of someone who sufferers from any mental issues, allow them 15 minutes a day of your time, just a simple amount of time to let anything that is bothering them off their chest. It is important that they can speak totally freely with no questions or judgement. Bottling it up can create serious issues inside and make demons for the person to deal with, talking to someone will help them to slay these demons.

What are your dreams for the future?

My dreams for the future are simple enough, to be loved for who I am scars and all. To just be accepted with all my flaws and live life to the full – I do not require riches and so on -I only dream of normality and peace, peace in my heart, peace in my life.

Do you have anyone in particular you want to thank or say sorry to but you haven’t had the chance?

I have said sorry a million times but it’ll never change what I have done or put others through. To my parents without you I would never have made it through, with your love and support you helped a withering bud blossom into a flourishing red rose. I have grown through a crack in the concrete, you have been my water and sunshine – for that and everything else I am eternally grateful. All I can offer in return is to make you proud of the man I have become.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, please visit NHS Overcoming Addiction or Action On Addiction.

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