The Fears that Drove My Addiction and Overcoming Them

A common theme throughout my life has been my deep-rooted fear of incapability. I can remember being a little kid and my only real aspiration was to be nice to people and make everyone happy. In fact, on my softball team when I was about nine-years-old I won the award for “Most Supportive Teammate”. Being agreeable and passive seemed to remain my identity throughout adolescence and young adulthood.

Academically I always did what I thought was expected of me but at the bare minimum. It wasn’t until I was a couple of years out of college working at an Art Gallery that, for the first time, I developed a pretty major goal for myself: to get my MBA. It wasn’t until I moved across the country by myself to start this prestigious program that I came face-to-face with my biggest demon, my paralyzing fear of being incapable.

Within my first semester, I was struggling so much in my quantitative courses that I went to a psychiatrist and was prescribed two 10mg Adderall per day. It seemed as though from the moment I took the first little blue pill that I was unable to stop until the bottle was empty only just a few days later. Pretty quickly this little prescription to help me with my math classes turned into two Adderall prescriptions and buying as many off of classmates as possible. Ironically, I was too sped up and too sleep deprived to even show up to my classes, let alone keep up with them.

I took a medical leave before that first semester was over and haven’t gone back, this was the Fall of 2014. I went back to work about a year after I took that medical leave once getting clean from uppers. Unfortunately this fear of being incapable now turned into a fear of not being able to keep up – I suddenly found myself struggling to wake up for work and perform alongside all of my coworkers because I was haunted by the thought that ‘if I only had Adderall I could be doing so much better’. This insidious thought led to my relapse one year ago and my termination. During which I was doing any kind of upper I could get and couldn’t seem to even start a job application, yet the thought consumed me.

I now have six months sober, and thanks to Pax House Recovery Center in Pasadena, California I’ve been able to get my life back in order and overcome these deep-seated fears that kept me functioning. I learned about cognitive behavioral therapy, ways to self soothe, and how to set boundaries. Pax also introduced me to 12-step recovery and the combination of that plus the coping mechanisms I gained during my time at Pax has allowed me to overcome these false narratives for the first time ever. I’ve since built the healthiest and happiest life I’ve ever known, which I can’t imagine living drunk or high. I now realize expressions like “easy does it” and “one day at a time” really do allow me to be capable of all the things I once thought I wouldn’t be able to do.

-Stephanie C, Pax House Alumni

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