My story

In early November of 2013, I had reached my lowest point and attempted suicide by overdosing on drugs and alcohol; I awoke from a coma about a week later. Unable to move or make noise, I found myself as one sees a newborn baby. I was extremely anorexic and malnourished; I was also very addicted to drugs and alcohol. What strikes me now as no coincidence is this: my family was holding vigil over Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital cafeteria when I came back to life.

My life had completely taken a downward spiral since my days as a glowing college philosophy student. My dream of becoming a professor had been replaced by the hellish torture of alcoholism, drug addiction, and an eating disorder. While in school, I modeled myself after the great philosophers and truly thought the greatest thoughts were derived from the use of some sort of substance. I imagined myself holding council with the greats in absinthe bars across Europe and sharing my brilliant two cents with those around me. As an adolescent, I was an avid athlete and won many scholastic awards; I graduated ahead of my class and the future was in my hands. My addictions had other plans:  a dentist’s daughter, private school and university taught, I often found myself homeless and at the end of my addiction, living to drink and drug. My dreams had been replaced by nightmares and it all came to fruition that bleak November night. No longer could did I care about my mental or physical health; I was physically addicted and drinking to live. How dark it is before the dawn!

Upon overdosing I found myself in a coma on life support; unable to breath on my own, my systems were shutting down. Recently, I found out that one night, they prepared my family for the worst. It is very important for posterity’s sake that one takes into account what atrocious shape I was in, as you may find the later portion of my story rather uplifting. After awakening, my living nightmare began, I had cut off the oxygen supply to my brain and was unable to move or make noise, due to the large holes now in my cerebellum. I wish I could say that was an a-ha moment, an awakening of sorts; sadly it was not. I did not drink, drug, or practice my eating disorder for  three years, as I was physically unable and due to mobility issues had moved back home with my mother (my father committed suicide in 2002). After three years, I was walking with a walker, and ready to live on my own again… so I thought. By 2007, I had destroyed what little progress I had made; I was once again drinking and practicing the eating disorder, only this time I was severely disabled. In the spring, I found myself, once again, in a psych ward. Guardianship was relinquished to my mother; I know not why, but all of a sudden a switch flipped on inside of me and I decided then and there I would “get better”, so to speak.

I remembered the philosophical teachings of Epictetus, how one creates their own circumstances and of the great psychologist Viktor Frankl who claimed that “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” I began inpatient hospitalization to nourish my body and uncloud my mind. Once I was well enough, I began working with a nutritionist and attending support groups; I abstained from alcohol and drugs, but faltered with the eating disorder. Honestly, it was difficult to let go of all of my unhealthy habits. Resisting drugs and alcohol, I remained sober for 3.5 years. On December 14th of 2013 I, again, drank; that is an important date for me; that is the day I took my life back. I decided enough is enough and all but wore out my copies of my motivating philosophical books. The next few months found me sober, quitting smoking, halting the eating disorder, becoming vegetarian, and obtaining a gym membership. It’s truly amazing as to the things we can do when we apply ourselves! All this while, I’ve held onto the notion that there is reason for one’s suffering; if anything, it is to share hope with those who may well be fighting their own battles. For the first time in 20 years, I myself began to see hope. I sought refuge in the works of William James and studied Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”. These works led me to believe there was an immutable sense underlying all; it was not up to me to figure my life out, but I could, indeed, live to show others that hope is for all, not simply the worthy.

In 2014, I was doing so well all around that I set a new goal for myself: to go back to school to be a personal trainer. You must remember that from 2003-2004 I could barely move; so this was a lofty goal. I gained my certification on the first try, joining only 10% of my class; next up, find employment. Believe it or not, I applied at gyms and health and nutrition stores. I secured a position in a health store and took the paratransit bus to work; I remembered stories from my childhood: these helped me overcome adversity. Aesop’s Fables, morals, and abstractions guided me through troubled waters. CS Lewis is another favorite who I studied intensely, not for his religious, but philosophical teachings. I believe now that “Even at night there are stars that shine”.

I have not had an eating disorder or used substances since 2013; neither have I eaten meat or smoked. As I now know, there is meaning in the suffering. Life happens; it is up to us as to its meaning. I know today that I make a choice everyday as to the path my life will take. “I am the captain of my soul; I am the master of my destiny.” Hope is available for everyone; take heart; it is yours if you want it.

 

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Acts of kindness

“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world.
There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created
in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores
of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will
appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.” –Leo Buscaglia

 

This world is writhe with choices; kindness and love is a choice not unlike any other. Happiness and sadness both take the same amount of effort on our parts. I can choose to be grateful for what I have… or I can wallow in misery. I have reasons beyond belief to feel sorry for myself, but what good would that do? The past is behind me. I can place blame or I can take responsibility for my present actions. I cannot control the actions of others. Seriously… I can’t even control my cats! I have no power over what is said or done to me, but I can, indeed, choose how I interpret such things. I am indeed blessed to have people surrounding me who deeply love me, unconditionally. Those who do not know me judge me based on my history and appearance; it does not affect me unless I let it. Generally speaking, a kind word or a smile tends to soften such pre-conceived notions. It is relatively funny to see someone with a walker holding the door for someone with a wheelchair. If all you can manage is to tell someone you love them today; do it. The world could use it!

Judgements

“Judge lest not ye be judged.” Word to humanity, every form of life is just as valid as the next. Just because a person may not be a prime specimen does not mean they should be treated with less value or care as the next person. If an animal is old or disfigured it is not less capable of loving. Often times in society, we only reach out to that which is aestheticallly pleasing, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder,we only see what we can see externally.

Mental:Accomplishments are not always tangible;for example: attitude and perseverance cannot be quantified, but are of the utmost importance. You influence on society is rarely measured, but felt by those around you.

Physical: If you are ailing in one part of your physical self, don’t let other areas go unattended. The body performs MANY different functions and each effects the other.

Social: Give of yourself to the world,do not be so quick to evaluate certain people or situations not worthy.  You will reap what you sow,let it be positive

love yourself

On beauty

I simply love philosophy; namely for it’s questioning of things and breaking down pre-conceived notions. But there is a point at which I can get too “philosophy-y” and trip myself up by questioning TOO much. One of the first people I studied, my foray into this realm, was David Hume. I love this quote: “Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.“-David Hume. That is to say within each of us lies the innate ability to perceive the world around us as we so choose. If I choose to be pessimistic and perceive the universe as ugly, I will probably have a negative mindset. If I am open to kindness and the beauty of the world, it makes sense that I would be positive. For example;it is raining this morning. I can get caught up in the gloom and ugliness of the day OR I can look at is as this: water is the source of life, this is a way of bringing vital nourishment to my environment. If I get wet, that’s ok;it will dry. There is something of beauty, I think at least, in even today. Some people at my gym brought much joy to my morning. They might not have had 6 packs or million dollar teeth, but the beauty they give off RESONATES! Physical beauty is only skin deep. True beauty, for me, is having an inner light that is so blinding it cannot help but effect other people.

Mental: Realize your inner beauty, rather than external. Realize that you are much more than a body;you have MUCH to be offered non-physical.I will give more insight in physical.

Physical: I have given the example of Hawkins being the most brilliant man of the hour;unable to act physically. I am nowhere near him! but I have been unable to perform physical tasks, and still do much of the time. Quite often, value is placed on what we can do physically. I assumed I had lost my value as a human being, as my physicality was greatly diminished. Often times, we are quick to overlook that which can be offered by the mind alone. It is great IDEAS not always physicality that has had the greater impact on the world. If you have a quality, functional body; be grateful! If you have both of these aspects…you can do much good! “A sound mind in a sound body, is a short, but full description of a happy state in this World: he that has these two, has little more to wish for; and he that wants either of them, will be little the better for anything else.”-John Locke

Social: Again, realize that what you have to physically offer society is much less important than that which you can offer internally. It is hard, in the world we live in to disconnect from your physical self( I have trouble!),but it will help,with practice, to lessen one’s conception that their sole value is defined by things physical and tangible. YOU are not stylish hair or an IPhone.

What you think,you become