My story begins like most, a troubled childhood, parents who fought a lot, a sibling who was favored, family secrets, physical and mental abuse etc.
By the time I graduated highschool I was well off into a drinking career. It had become my survival mechanism. I had been voted “Most Attractive Girl” by my senior class, I was on prom court, hosted homecoming galas at the school, you name it I did it. I grew up escaping into school and the social scene at a very young age. It was my place of refuge, because at home I was getting beatings by my mother who suffered from mental illness and had a penchant for prescriptions and alcohol and when she wasn’t pouring hot coffee on me or beating me unconscious she was verbally abusing me, reminding me I was my fathers child and that she should have aborted me when she had the chance. My parents had a very tumultuous relationship and at five years old I witnessed my mother attempting to shoot my father in the head. That would be only the first time I witnessed her with a firearm. My parents were married and divorced twice to each other by the time I was a junior in highschool, and when I was 14 I learned from a cousin on accident that my sister had a different father, my sister didn’t even know. My mother always favored my sister, and she had a number of medical issues at an early age and was always overweight and introverted. I know now this was due to my mothers guilt and shame of never revealing the identity of my sisters father. I grew up doing everything I could to excel in school from winning a state writing test in grade school, to being president of my class in middle school, to cheerleading for my school. I did very well at hiding what was really going on in my home life. My parents were not involved with me at school whatsoever so it was actually pretty easy.
Once I hit highschool and discovered alcohol it was if all the worlds worries had been lifted off my shoulders. Having a few drinks, a few beers, a few shots, whatever I could get my hands on made me feel carefree, confident and joyful. Well, atleast for a while anyway. By the time I graduated my personality had changed dramatically. I went from being eager to please and excel academically to barely having enough credits to graduate and getting into drunken fist fights at every turn. I had become an angry drunk, but it wasn’t enough to stop my drinking.
After highschool I moved to LA to study acting at a prestigious film school. Within 3 months of being there I got a DUI at the age of 18. At this point I had been in and out of doctors offices for 2 years having been diagnosed with Bipolar, depression, and multitude of mental illnesses’. Somewhere along the way I completely lost passion for life in general and shortly there after I moved back to Florida.
I enrolled into Cosmetology school and drug that out for a couple years, kind of going through life on autopilot until I met my husband at the age of 21.
It was something right out of a movie, we met one night and became inseparable. We were immediately pregnant and for the first time I was forced to stop drinking and get healthy. My life seemed to be on an upward motion. Our beautiful daughter was born and I was still doing ok not drinking but a year after she was born I was having trouble with focus and depression. I started psyche meds and that became a 4 year trial and error basis of finding the right medication. I got back into acting and landed my first role as the lead in an ensemble cast in a political play, I was happy to get back to my creative arts, it was after all the only place where I felt sane. Life continued to happen and I figured I was fine that I could handle a drink or two. At this point I hadn’t yet accepted the fact that I had any type of true mental illness or that I was an alcoholic.
By September of 2015 I was an assistant director on a new television show, and my marriage was completely falling apart. My daughter and I moved back in with my father and my husband and I separated. At this point my doctor had me on a number of medications for sleep deprivation, anxiety, bipolar, adhd, and I was mixing all of this on a daily basis with alcohol. I was completely miserable and heartbroken, feeling like a complete and total failure in life drinking away every waking moment of existence. I feel into the deepest pit of depression and in the heat of the moment told myself that my daughter would be better off not suffering watching her mother and growing up in the hell like I did. She was the only thing that brought me true joy and I wanted to protect her. Besides, the world would be a better place without me in it, my husband was a great father and he would be sure to look after her. I took every single prescription pill I had, chased it with vodka and closed my eyes hoping all the pain would soon be over.
I woke up in the hospital days later to my husband sobbing by my bedside holding my hand. He had found me by the grace of god, and taken me to the hospital. The doctors didn’t know if I would wake up or be brain dead since I arrived at the hospital too late to pump my stomach. I asphyxiated and ended up with pneumonia from the vomit in my lungs and had to stay at the hospital for 10 days before they could even transfer me to a psychiatric hospital. I spent a total of 18 days in the hospital, and for the first time in my life started to understand my disease. I was in fact an alcoholic, and I did suffer from mental illness. It was the absolute most incredible experience of my life being in the medical center. I was able to actually pause and take a time out to address issues that I had buried since childhood. Through hours and hours of therapy and group sessions I was finally released to go home.
Here I sit today, exactly 78 days sober and I can honestly say I am grateful for hitting rock bottom. I am taking my life one day at a time, my marriage has been renewed in faith and love, my husband is completely sober and supportive with me. Our daughter just joined the cheerleading team and is about to start kindergarten, we moved into a new house, and I have taken up a new interest in photography. I go to meetings, and therapy weekly, I exercise, I drink all sorts of those super healthy yucky green smoothies haha, I resort to my higher power in moments of weakness, and try to be as gentle with myself as possible. I no longer have fear in admitting that I suffer from mental illness, I wear it like a badge of honor. I am strong, and infinitely supported by the universe just like everyone and I have every intention of making this life as beautiful as possible one day at a time.
Thank you for letting my share my story, I hope that I can help another person suffering silently for the fear of being judged. Everyone deserves to live this magical thing called life.
Chelsea- Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. First- you have a BEAUTIFUL family. What a lucky girl you are indeed. I am so glad that you were unsuccessful in your attempt to end it all. You are needed here. You are worthy and there is so much more you still have left to do.
I often marvel at the resiliency of children. What you witnessed and went through as a child was nothing that any child should have to see, hear, or experience. Makes me wonder if it puts you in a position to be a fantastic mother now because you know first hand what it’s like to be on the other side of the equation: scared, hurt and alone. We applaud you in your recovery and are so glad to see a success story. There will undoubtedly be some hard days ahead yet, but stay strong and remember who you are and why you are fighting. Keep sharing your story- it’s through the stories we share with each other that we help and touch those who need it most. Most importantly- you can say, “we survived”. -Kate