From a very young age I was diagnosed as having a Mental Illness. The word "Illness" to me communicates that someone is sick, or not normal. Anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, you name it, I was diagnosed with it. I constantly was trying to "fix" myself. I decided to cope with this in other ways that made me feel normal instantly, and thats when I met my cure - alcohol. I drank until I couldn't feel anymore. I drank until I blacked out. I drank alone. I drank everyday. I drank to feel normal.
I woke up on May 16, 2014 in a hospital bed, both of my parents crying over me. Was I dreaming? Was I dead? Reality struck me when I learned that I was .02 BAC away from my brain completely shutting down from alcohol. On that day I admitted that I had a problem, and that was the first step of a long journey ahead.
Not So Anonymous
As a 20 year old college dropout, I fly out with one suitcase to a treatment center (aka rehab) in the middle of nowhere. When I thought of an "alcoholic" I thought of a homeless man under a bridge drinking out of a paper bag. But I soon came to learn that this wasn't the case. That millions of people from all different backgrounds struggle with this same thing. In order to get sober we had to work as a community and lift one another up to a life of recovery.
I also learned that there was in fact nothing to fix, that this was a part of who I am, and it's what I did with it that mattered. So instead I fought for my life, I embraced my brokenness, and lost my anonymity in the process. I returned to school and made it a goal to start an open conversation about mental health. The more people I told I was an addict, the more people reciprocated and opened up about their personal connection to mental illness.
The Chain Reaction
One by one, this continued to happen, until I began my own platform called "Spread Wellness with Wesley". This is when I discovered the power of the word "WE" and the power of community around the topic of mental health. If you take the "I" out of Mental Illness and replace it with "We" it creates Mental Wellness. I held the very first sobriety chip I picked up when I was standing in front of the entire student body and was named Miss Homecoming. I realized they all knew my flaws, my brokenness, but accepted me for who I was because they related in some shape or form.
Today, I am thankful I am far from perfect. I am thankful for the people who help me everyday with this second chance at life. I am thankful for my diagnosis, because I have been able to connect with others through it. Today, I am thankful to be sober and I continue to spread the message, one day at a time.