I was completely out of my mind. One morning I had this psychotic break where I took a GoPro and violently threw it at my door and broke it. I felt high. I felt angry. I had flashes of feeling like a total monster. Concerned and frightened, my wife called my friend. He came to the house and they both took me to the emergency room because they thought I must be doing cocaine among other drugs.
I told them, “Let’s go to the hospital. I promise it’s just marijuana and Adderall.”
It was just those drugs but I have learned that there really is no such thing as “just” anything when you are self-medicating. There were nights that I thought I was going to die. My heart rate would race as my blood pressure would rise. I was at a real risk of having a massive cardiac episode.
The downward spiral I took with Adderall started at eight years old. In school I had comprehension issues. I was distracted during class but not hyperactive. I do have Attention Deficit Disorder but I do not have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. At first they gave me Ritalin. Later on I was prescribed Adderall. When people with hyperactivity take the drug it calms them. But for those without hyperactivity, it is a stimulant and it feels like you are high. I knew something wasn’t right. I never thought I was as sick as people thought I was but I was a child. Who was I to question a doctor?
Meanwhile, the drug destroyed my confidence and self-esteem. I thought I needed it to get anything done. I thought I needed it to be successful. That ultimately became one of the main reasons I started to abuse Adderall – the fear of what would happen when it wore off. I felt I needed to stay on it at all times to be productive.
About three years ago I began to seriously pursue my music career. That is when I began heavily abusing Adderall. I would take significantly more than I was prescribed to sustain this feeling of euphoria for as long as possible. I was very aggressive toward the people I love and care for most in my life. I was a jerk. I couldn’t sit still.
I was like that for a couple of years before I began to mix cannabis with the Adderall. I would eat a lot of Adderall in the morning. In the afternoon I would smoke a lot of weed so the crash would be less abrasive. The combination of those two turned me psychotic. Not to mention it made me dangerously dehydrated.
After that psychotic break in November of 2018, I spent 30 days in rehab. I have been sober since. I feel much calmer now. I also now feel the emotions of life. Some days I feel a little bit down in the dumps. Some days I feel fine. As a result, even my music has changed. Through my music I express the ups and downs that I now feel, which has led to unique sounds as opposed to ones that mimic the structure of a typical pop song.
I want you to know it’s not easy. If you are someone who is just starting to take the drug, I get that it’s really hard to question a doctor. But if it doesn’t feel right, get a second opinion.
If you are in the midst of this illness, get help. It’s nearly impossible to recover on your own. I highly recommend getting a therapist. That’s what helped me. If you don’t have the means to see a professional, find a person that you can confide in, someone with whom you can share your deepest secrets and your demons.
I promise you your worst day off drugs is better than your best day on drugs.
I talk to myself a lot during the day. I know that sounds a little crazy, but I have had to learn to calm myself down. I can’t call my manager, my wife, my dad or my mom every second of the day.
While I am still working on my confidence and self-esteem, I am not letting those internal struggles stop me from pursuing my career in music. I am starting to realize I am not going to be a bad writer if I don’t take medicine. I am going to be OK. I am going to be better. And so will you. Just don’t give up. Don’t give up on trying to get better and don’t give up on whatever it is that you love in life.
Healing takes time. It may not happen at the moment you want. I am still healing and learning to cope with sobriety. But I promise you your worst day off drugs is better than your best day on drugs. Living life high is like putting on your favorite album without turning on the sound. So I wish you the best as you move forward in your journey as I continue on mine. I hope that both you and I can live sober lives so we actually experience and dance to all the melodies life has to offer.
With Hope and Clarity,
Written with Lauren Brill
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Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.