Category Archives: Sober

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Kip Shubert – Safety from Stigma

Safety from Stigma

Learning how recovery, addiction, and mental illness are so intertwined has been eye-opening in my three years of sobriety. Being able to see how my depression opened the door to the depths of addiction in my life now makes perfect sense. The stigma that comes with both addiction and mental illness is a double whammy for most in recovery or those searching for their answer. There is a stigma in recovery circles as well as with the general public. We must begin to bring these issues to life by the telling of our stories.

Before this week my life has been void of being personally affected by a death due to addiction and mental illness. On Monday that changed. My best friend from college, who was also my roommate and best man at my wedding, lost his son to mental illness and drug use. It is a pain and grief that I cannot fathom. Having battled mental illness and addiction, as well as, having four children I have great empathy for him and his family.

My friend is a well-known food critic for a major publication. His son, who was 19, worked closely with him in the kitchen from a young age and was following a passion of cooking and culinary arts. I do not know much about his son as his father and I have not kept in close contact over the years. I can only imagine the devastation this has left him but he already is trying to make sense of it all by speaking out about depression and opioid use. I know that he will not let his son’s life fade away but he will instead use the legacy of his son to bring awareness to the deadly dangers of mental illness and drug use.

This death has brought me a new perspective on just how deadly the issues of mental health and addiction are in our society. It has forced me to search my feelings on the effects of the stigma so many of us face. Not only are addicts and those suffering from mental illness shamed into silence but so are the families that love and care for them. Our society feels compassion for a sickness such as cancer yet looks down upon things like depression and addiction. One is not more self-inflicted than the other. We addicts know this and it is something that ones who have not experienced it probably will ever understand.

We must fight the stigma. But the best way in my opinion to do that is to reach out to communities across our nation and let them know that they are not alone and there is help. We cannot force others to understand or be compassionate about something that has never touched them in any way. But we can provide a voice of security and trust to those who have been afflicted. We must continue to spread our stories so that they realize there are many just like them and their suffering does not have to be in secrecy.

We must be proud and not anonymous. We must put a healthy face on the options of recovery. We must make sure people feel a sense of belonging and a safe place to turn in times of trouble. They must see us not being afraid of who we are and what we battle. I am not afraid of my past, my addiction, and my fight against depression. In my fight, I will make sure that I bring a light into what has been darkness for those who are struggling or love someone who is struggling. As warriors on purpose, they will see that we can and do recover, that life can be more than we imagine, and that through the storms we come out on the other side, strong and empowered.

 

Personal-Pic I am Kip Shubert and founder of Warriors on Purpose. I am a 48 yr old father of four beautiful children. I have been an educator, coach, and motivational speaker for over two decades. A decorated middle school teacher, Oklahoma All-State Coach, and an award-winning collegiate athlete. I am also a recovering alcoholic. Throughout most of my life, I constantly wondered where my life was going. I never felt worthy or good enough. I spiraled into a darkness I had never dreamed could affect me. Homeless and clinging to my teaching career I hit my bottom. Through my struggles, I learned to fight for the life I knew was there for me. My battles and my addiction helped me to overcome the emotional issues and fear that had always held me back. Through God and my experiences in life, I have come to find and fulfill my purpose.

Kip can be found on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Stigma Fighters: Brittney Taylor

For many years I was caught up in the vicious cycle of alcohol, anxiety and depression. If I was anxious, I drank. If I was depressed, I drank. Then I would sober up and the anxiety and depression were still there, only now I felt even worse.

I suffered from social anxiety. I just wanted to fit in. Alcohol solved that problem. A sip of alcohol and I turned into a bubbly, outgoing, fun girl. I had the time of my life. I laughed, I danced, and I made new friends. Alcohol is a depressant, but it seemed like the exact opposite. It made me happy. It filled the void that I felt inside. My addictive personality found its new favorite vice!

I faced more trauma than I care to think about. I had to deal with things that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. One of the worst was losing one of my best friends when I was 17. I left the hospital and started drinking immediately until I passed out. I woke up and I grabbed a bottle of vodka that was next to me and took a big gulp. That was the first time I thought to myself, this is what alcoholics do. But I had a free pass to cope however I wanted; my friend just died.

Anytime I didn’t use alcohol to cope, depression completely consumed me. I felt like it swallowed me whole. I would feel so low that I thought the only answer was taking my life, which I attempted more than once. Little arguments were magnified in my mind. I felt so helpless. Arguments with my boyfriend were the end of the world. I was so co-dependent. My happiness depended on another person. This was not healthy.

Eventually the alcohol stopped working. Instead of turning me into the person I thought I wanted to be, it turned me into a devil. I would lash out at people I cared about. I sabotaged relationships. One sip turned me into a completely different person. I pretended I didn’t care about anything. If something hurt me, I drank and turned into this bad ass girl that gave zero fucks. I couldn’t allow myself to sober up. I couldn’t allow myself to feel anything. I needed to numb myself. When alcohol didn’t work, I started to experiment with different drugs.

I had been in the hospital multiple times and each time they had me talk to a social worker. They recommended rehab. They recommended counseling. They recommended anti-depressants. I went to detox after one visit and left within 24 hours. I tried counseling, but I didn’t want to talk to a stranger. I tried anti-depressants, but quit taking them after a week. All those recommendations sounded great and all, but they would take time and effort to work. Alcohol worked right away. Drinking always seemed like the best answer to my problems.

I gradually started to realize that alcohol wasn’t helping me anymore. It was only making things worse. I would wake up and feel shame and regret. I would wake up more anxious and more depressed than I was when I fell asleep. One day I woke up and decided I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. It was time for me to face my problems. I checked myself into rehab and this time I stayed. I stayed for 6 months. The alcohol was gone, the fog started to lift from my mind, and I could think clearly. It felt terrible. Depression and anxiety were back with a vengeance.

Over those 6 months, I faced my problems head on. I learned how to cope with depression and anxiety in healthy ways. I was surrounded by people who suffered from this disease and they helped me to feel normal. I had a counselor that I talked to twice a week. She helped me grieve over the losses I’d faced. This counselor helped me to heal from the things that I never allowed myself to confront from my past. I learned to open up and talk, rather than hold things inside until I exploded. I learned to meditate and do yoga to cope with anxiety. I started working out. Exercise helped me to release anger. I didn’t want to do any of these things in the past because I didn’t want to admit I suffered from depression or anxiety. All I ever wanted was to fit in. The last thing I wanted to do was label myself as different. Simple techniques that I would have laughed at in the past have made a world of a difference. The best therapy has been writing and sharing my story to give others hope and inspiration. I don’t need to ingest toxic substances in order to find peace. I have been able to find peace within myself and that has been the best medicine of all.

 

IMG_3418-1My name is Brittney Taylor. I am from Michigan and currently pursuing my Communications degree at Saginaw Valley State University. I went from girl gone wild to girl gone sober. I want to share my experience, strength and hope with others so they know there is more to life beyond whatever their vice may be.

 

 

 

 

Brittney can be found on her blog and Twitter.