Addiction, Cory Monteith and Me
The passing of Cory Monteith has left me rattled. I am not a fan in the sense that I followed his career or life but I have watched Glee since the beginning.
This news was especially difficult to hear because it came on the heels of the verdict in the George Zimmerman case. I was absolutely appalled that he was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin.
I am also a mother of two boys and any time that something happens to a young man, even one closer in age to me than my boys (I had no idea he was 31, he certainly didn’t look it.), I can’t help but think of his mother and how she is coping. Many tears were shed for these two young men that I’ve never met.
This morning, I woke up thinking about addiction. It hasn’t been ruled if it were the cause of Cory’s death, but it is highly likely given his past struggles with it. As I was cleaning today I got to thinking about my own past, my own addictions and how devastating this disease truly is.
When I was in college, I struggled for a short time with an addiction to being high. I was abusing marijuana because I loved the feeling it gave me. I went home from work many nights looking forward to getting high. I am lucky though, I realized what was happening. I recognized the signs that I was going down a bad path and I was able to stop. I could, very easily, have continued to abuse marijuana and eventually may have tried other drugs. I may have headed toward the same destination that Cory did but I was able to recognize it in myself and stop.
I found other ways to get that high though. I shopped. Rather than using an illegal substance to stimulate and numb my senses, I abused my credit cards. I shopped for many years, running up debt and acquiring stuff.
Addiction is a disease that has many forms. Some of us are “lucky” enough to become addicted to ways of getting high that won’t harm us physically. Others of us must continue to seek out a different rush, a stronger high or a better numbness.
Addiction to spending money can seem less dangerous but it can lead to serious issues later on in life. It can lead to bankruptcy which has lead people to suicide because they have felt like there was no way out. There have been parents who have committed suicide for the purpose of saving their family financially.
Addiction to spending money can turn into addiction to drugs or other methods of getting high. It too can become a gateway.
I am very lucky. I got help from a great counselor. He was able to show me that I have an addictive personality that was passed on to me from my father. He was an alcoholic and also smoked marijuana.
I have learned how to see the signs of addiction in myself, I know what to stay away from and what to do if I should begin to get out of control.
Sometimes it works.
Sometimes, I start down that path and it takes me years to gain control again.
In 2008, while divorcing my husband, I began spending uncontrollably. I began to feed my emotions and seek a new high because I had been numb for so very long. There was no intervention by anyone. No one told me that I needed to stop charging on my credit cards. I was forced to stop when I ran out of credit. When I was finally forced to step away from it all, I was able to realize the damage I had caused by my out of control spending.
In the time since 2010, I have taken actions to make sure this never happens again.
I have cut up all my credit cards and do each time a new one arrives.
I have forced myself to cut all excessive spending and limit my discretionary fund.
I have sought out support by talking about my addiction and sharing with others who are like me.
I have worked hard to pay back my debts and continue to do so.
I have been lucky. My addiction only led me to financial problems, a poor credit score and a lot of tears.
I wish the same could be said for others who are battling with addiction. I wish there were more people stepping in when they see the signs.
I have seen so many people blaming Cory on his own passing. The same thing happened when Amy Winehouse died and when Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston died. They blamed the addict and not the addiction.
I don’t get that, you don’t blame the cancer patient for getting cancer. You blame cancer and vow to fight it.
Why are we not working harder to fight addiction?
Why are we not talking more about mental health disorders? Why aren’t we raising money to create awareness and fund research on how we can help people avoid the devastating effects of mental illness?
Why do we continue to blame the person afflicted rather than fight to help others like him or her?
The older I get, the more disappointed I become in our society. I’m not giving up though. I know that we can all grow to become more caring, more inclusive, more of a team. We don’t need to blame people who are born a way that is different.
Whether it is the color of their skin, the nature of their attraction, the method of their mind or the health of their body, we are all human. We should be supporting one another.
We should be loving harder.
And we should be fighting together.
Living a royal life on less.