This event changed the course of my life. It stopped my nursing career in its tracks, because over the course of just five years, I had undergone eight spinal surgeries. I experienced severe bouts of depression and anxiety, and slowly became seriously addicted to the painkillers I had been regularly prescribed. I was simply existing – not living; surviving- not thriving. As a result of my addiction, I chose poor choices and got in trouble with the law, which ultimately resulted in surrendering my nursing license. Up until this point, I had only known my identity to be a “critical care nurse,” and I felt lost at sea.
Finally, with the support of people who never gave up hope on me – even when I had completely given up on myself, I entered into an inpatient rehabilitation facility (not my first, but definitely my last). I decided to get honest with myself and address my underlying issues. I had been fighting this because I was terrified to trust anyone, including myself and was afraid of what would rise to the surface. After all, the alcohol and prescription drugs were just a symptom of what was really hidden beneath and within myself.
The therapists and counselors that supported me through this journey gave me the tools and the coping skills I needed to build a new foundation. I didn’t know what the future was going to look like, but I remained focused on the present moment. And one day at a time, I invited the feelings I had blocked and resisted – guilt, shame, embarrassment, frustration, anxiety, worry, fear – to the surface so I could finally experience them and move forward.