From a pretty early age, I struggled with self-esteem. There was something maddeningly ephemeral about it: I always felt like I was the butt of a joke I would never be in on. Regular social interactions seemed as though there was a lethal electrical current just beneath the surface. I knew that this feeling was irrational, but it persisted nonetheless.
By the my late teens, I had discovered a cheat code. I would rotate through coke, MDMA, speed, and booze. Whatever reliably obliterated my default headspace was good enough for me. Looking back, it was kind of amazing that I was able to keep it going into my 30s. There was no element of self-care or responsibility. Just living paycheque to paycheque, bender to bender.
I got a needed scare one night when I was doing GHB. The thing about GHB - a central nervous system depressant - is that it’s fine until it isn’t. Over the course of that night, I drank more than I ever had - mixed with Sprite - and became more and more relaxed and uninhibited. Eventually, there was a turn. I felt like I’d been poisoned, which in a sense, I had. I had to force myself up out my bed in a stupor and induce vomiting. I then fell asleep without any certainty that I’d wake up again.
Whether I had actually been on death’s door or not is ultimately irrelevant. What stuck with me was the terrifying indifference I had felt while drifting off into what — for all I knew — was the end of everything. I swore off drinking and drugs, and I was convinced I needed to do it on my own.
Over the next few months, I retreated into myself. Whatever the drinking and drugs brought out of me, I was determined to lock away forever. I wasn’t using, but I wasn’t living either. I was terrified of the world, and terrified of myself, which left me with nowhere to go.
My mother did an online search for resources and came across Lifeline. She told me I would have to call in myself to get help. I dreaded the idea of talking to someone, but I didn’t really trust that my fragile sobriety would hold up under the weight of so much isolation. I dialled the number, wincing.
What followed was a process of reconnecting myself to the outside world. For me, stopping drinking and drugs wasn’t the hard part; it was living my life, facing my fears, and realizing that I needed guidance and support from others to rebuild from the ground up. Today, the world isn’t exactly free of unpleasantness or dread, but I have a far better grasp on how to deal with it, and it’s much harder to have low self-esteem when you trust your ability to handle what life throws at you.
*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved. Additionally, we would note that the reason we were able to attend to Ava immediately is because we are regularly expanding our staff in order to meet the growing demand for our services. As Chabad Lifeline is sustained through private donations, this entails significant fundraising efforts. Making a donation can help ensure that we can continue to provide timely care that can ultimately save a life or set a family on a better course, creating a positive ripple effect on future generations.