National Suicide Prevention:
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I Always Knew I Was Different

I knew from an early age that I was different. I can remember when I was in first grade I started isolating and felt alone and different. I had difficulty in school and was diagnosed with a learning disability when I was in fourth grade. This only made me feel even more different and caused me to isolate more. I continued in public school only to struggle due to my disability. I never felt like I was normal always comparing others’ outsides to my insides.

By the time I was in seventh grade I had fallen so far behind I thought I would never catch up. My parents worked hard to give me a good education so they sent me away to a small prep school in PA to help me overcome my learning disabilities. I realized that I was not alone and soon began to thrive academically because I was around others like me and had the tools and help from teachers that knew how to help me. Little did I know that as I began to learn to overcome and deal with my learning disability, I still had a disease that would soon start to grow and develop; that was addiction.

I completed this 2 year program with honors doing well in school and playing sports. My self esteem was starting to develop, however my disease of addiction was developing faster. I then went to a coed boarding school in NH where I did well and thrived in sports and school receiving leadership awards and honors. I was introduced to alcohol and marijuana while there, and I felt even better. I never got in trouble from drugs or alcohol but I was slowly getting sicker and did not know it.

I went to a small college never being a partier, but when I would drink I would get drunk. Then came dental school.  I drank and smoked pot on the weekends thinking that was OK and that I did not have a problem, but I did and could not see it. When I drank I would get drunk, so I did not drink often as I knew I could not control it but never thought anything of that. I smoked marijuana, and my shame fear and guilt started to grow. My disease of addiction was growing stronger and faster, and I had no idea what was happening.  I was a good student and never got into trouble, so I thought I did not have a problem.

Once I started practice my fears grew and my marijuana use continued on and off for another 18 years. I was becoming consumed by fear, guilt, and shame. I was in denial that I had a problem. I really wanted to stop but did not know what to do. I started to live for the weekends not so I could use so much but so I could check out emotionally and feel safe that I would not do something wrong and be discovered. I soon lost my self and became motivated to seek approval from others because I did not know who I was. I started to isolate and become irritable and discontent. I wanted to change but did not know how.  I soon started to have serious marital problems that resulted in me separating from my wife. My great desire to change and become the person I knew I wanted to be was at war with the person I had become and it was killing me through my drug use to escape. I soon discovered cocaine and this relieved me for a short time. As my separation continued my cocaine use escalated to a point that I am lucky to be alive today. My wife thought something was up and took the hair out of the drain in the shower and had it tested and discovered I was using drugs. She called the CDP and turned me in and I was soon at the CDP office where I was both terrified to be and also relieved to be. I realized with it like I had my learning disability I had to admit I needed help. Somehow God was doing for me what I could not do for myself. Margie Graves showed me that they cared and I felt safe again. I did not like it, but knew if I did what she told me I might have a chance at this. I was off to treatment. It was hard but after three weeks in treatment I let go of so much and started to deal with me and stopped blaming everyone and everything else for where I was. This was a freeing process. I was learning to take responsibility for my part in things and let go of trying to control other people, places, and things. I was asking God to do for me what I could not do for myself. I began to turn my will and my life over to the care of god asking every day for help with my recovery and new way of living. It took some time but my sanity returned and I began working with my AA sponsor and my obsession and desire to drink and drug was lifted one day at a time.

Today my life in recovery is better than I thought possible. It is taking hard work and commitment to work the program but I have been amazed at the results. I know a new freedom I could have never imagined. I do not fear things like I used to. The gift of knowing God will give me what I need if I maintain a fit spiritual life has basically removed my fears and settled a peace in my soul I never imagined. I have enjoyed my practice so much more and my patients see a difference in me. I have more meaningful relationships with those in my life especially my children and my ex-wife. Today I have a support system in place through AA and the Caring Dental Professionals. Today I am learning to live as a grateful recovering alcoholic and am happy with who I am and the person I am developing into. Thank You Margie Graves and the Caring Dental Professionals for getting me the help I needed and giving me a program that will help teach me how to continue to live a life in recovery.

A grateful recovering alcoholic