Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown
January 19, 2009 3:43 AM   Subscribe

Convince me that I can go on, I can get work, not to kill myself, etc.. Not sure how serious I am, but seriously personal emotional fucked up stuff within so don't go on unless you are prepared for irrationality.

To anyone who may be paying attention to my history here, a while back I had to go through a serious amount of painful surgeries during which I had all of my teeth extracted. During that time, I became addicted to painkillers, it was a quick jump to heroin at that point. The fact of the matter is, my heroin habit is/was small, but I was shooting up (as well as smoking and snorting), and lost my job because I overdosed at work.

I started abusing because while I was dealing with my loss-of-teeth I was literally living my recurring childhood nightmare, I felt utterly humiliated, lost, alone, depressed, and uncared for. The painkillers I was taking made me feel like I had never felt before, like everything was okay. It was easy at that point to simply make the jump to heroin, which was cheap and easy to procure for me. My habit wasn't serious, but was a habit and I was willfully physically addicted. I lost my job because I used at work, passed out in the bathroom, and was discovered by co-workers and didn't wake up until after the paramedics had been called. I blame no one for this but myself, and do not blame my work for firing me. My work was graceful enough to make it clear that I can return, with time, to work. I worked there for over a year and gained enough capital as a worker and a person and they know I was going through a lot of pain and problems at that time. I cannot speak of how grateful I am to them for offering me the grace of returning to my job with time..

But now I am in a place where I have no routine, no discipline, and no income. In a time when what I need the most is routine, discipline, and most importantly income. I have roommates whom I have pissed off with my habit (they learned of it around the time I OD'd and I narrowly avoided getting kicked out only through a tearful and painful intervention) and I have no income or means of paying my rent until I can get my job back. I have no prospects for jobs, and cannot even think of why anyone SHOULD hire me with my history at the moment. All I can think to do is contact my previous employer and plead with them what I have said here, that right now I so badly need routine and income that without it I am much more likely to relapse then without it.. because honestly unless I can get an income soon I'll end up sleeping on the street.

My habit was .1-.3 grams a day of black tar heroin of varying degrees strength, and I feel that for the most part aside from some lingering insomnia and diarrhea that the physical symptoms of my addiction are over.. of course I still think of it, but I know now that it is simply something I cannot do anymore. I've cut substances out of my life before, having stopped drinking alcohol over a year ago after I realized it had become a destructive force in my life. My resolve is strong, and I honestly have no desire to let heroin take over my life like it had. But I am in such a deep, dark, emotional depression right now that I cannot stop my irrational thoughts that I am of no use to the world. I feel like I am unemployable and a strain to everyone I encounter, and that suicide seems like a logical (if far fetched, as I am a coward) option. The very fact that I used heroin as I did though does indicate that I have little care for my life.

It was very easy for me to use and hide my use because most all of my friends are fairly hard drinkers, out every night getting drunk as people in their 20's tend to do. I stopped drinking a long time ago but was able to maintain my quiet habit because all I would have to do is retire for a moment and come back feeling perfectly okay and all my drunk friends were none the wiser.

I've attended a few NA meetings, but cannot honestly follow the program because of its quasi-religious nature and feel the participants a bit too intense for me. I like the idea of it, a place where people can talk openly and anonymously about their problems and why they had them so that they can face them.. but I'm sure that I don't have to explain here why the "higher power" issue is a sticking point.

I'm trying to just "get a hobby" as it were, I am going to be joining a knitting circle so I can make myself a Doctor Who scarf, but more then just occupying my time I need to feel like I have a use in this world. I tie so much of my self worth to the fact that I work, that someone has found me useful enough to pay me for my work. And right now I feel myself unemployable and thusly useless. I cannot shake this feeling, and this more then anything else leaves me suicidal. I don't like using that word, because I don't think I honestly have the guts to kill myself.. but I have proven that I do have the guts to shoot up dangerous amounts of drugs, so I cannot underestimate my own ability for self harm.

I guess I don't even know what I am asking. I am just reaching out for some sort of advice, some sort of knowledge that I am not alone and not completely useless to this world. I have spent the last week alone in my room, with nothing but my DT sickness and thoughts to dwell on and I am in a seriously self hating mood. I don't want to use again, but I need to feel needed. I need routine, I need work, I need income, I need not to lose my room. I don't know what to do, feel desperately alone, and have spent the better part of the last four days crying in my room so scared that I'll piss someone off by even leaving it that I have countless jars of piss around me. These are signs of a serious emotional breakdown, I'm sure.. but I am a poor, unemployed, uninsurance-less person, traditional treatment for emotional breakdowns is not an option for me. And I am so full of shame for the fact that I let myself develop this problem that I cannot bring myself to talk to my friends about it, especially since most of them have chemical dependence issues of their own.. be it alcohol, cigarettes, pills, or whatever.. I just let mine become the darkest of them all..

I don't even know if I should post this. And in fact, will probably regret it and wish I hadn't within moments of doing it. I will probably ask for it to to be deleted later, but right now I am reaching out for advice, or help, or just some voice to tell me that everything is not over for me and that my life does have further use to the world. Please help.
posted by mediocre to Human Relations (43 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You aren't alone. We're all in this together, even if some of us don't know it.

I know other people that have felt like you, that have been that down, and are happy and fulfilled now. There is a path from where you are now to the joy you need--it might be hard to see, but it's there. It's always there.

Others will weigh in with more specific advice, and I might add more later, but I wanted you to know this much now.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:03 AM on January 19, 2009 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Please don't beat yourself have the inner strength to get through this. First things first: call these places tomorrow and get yourself the help you deserve. I know it seems overwhelming tonight, but help is out there, just call--and keep calling--till you get in a safe place psychologically.

Oregon's emergency rent assistance program

Free Oregon drug rehab, jobs, housing and counseling services

I'll add more later, but just wanted to get this up before supercilious, vapid losers start snarking away about how you're making this up. Don't let it get you down, there are people out here who get it.
posted by aquafortis at 4:05 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Way outta my league here, but a couple of the assumptions that confine you seem unnecessary.

...out every night getting drunk as people in their 20's tend to do.

No, people in their 20's don't tend to do this. Some do, but most don't. You've fallen in with a crowd that's really, really bad for you.

Also,...traditional treatment for emotional breakdowns is not an option for me. does not follow from I am a poor, unemployed, uninsurance-less person. Seeing a shrink will probably be more challenging to arrange, and might take a little while to pay for, but you're valuing being debt-free over being alive. That's the crazy talking.
posted by jon1270 at 4:13 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oregon 24 hour help line. Might as well call now to talk to someone, then tomorrow you can start calling aquafortis' numbers. If you hate making phone calls, email me.

Here is the (self-titled) ultimate resource list for mental health in Portland - it seems to be mostly locked for editing at the moment, but might be helpful to check out later.
posted by jacalata at 4:16 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: You can always kill yourself later.

That thought has kept me alive more than once.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:32 AM on January 19, 2009 [17 favorites]

Best answer: The thing that has kept me alive (like a lot of people, my teen years were absolute hell) was the idea that things will, in all likelihood, get better. Now sucks. It's ugly, and it's there, and it doesn't seem to go away. In fact, now can, and often does, become even worse than now. But at some point, things will take an upturn.

I can understand the advoidance of NA because of the religious thing. But at the same time, the one mantra that I have, the thing that has allowed me to put up with all of the shit that life has thrown (and is throwing) my way is "This too shall pass." I'm very, very non-religious, and I don't take it in the Jesus-sense. I take it in the knowledge that there's pretty much nothing that we've done that won't, someday, be different.

First thing, though, take the jars to the bathroom and flush the piss. Sitting surrounded by your own waste is not going to help you get into a positive place. If you're worried about the roomates seeing you (and yeah, carrying your urine down the hallway might cause some waves) wait till they're gone, or asleep.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:54 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: Way out of my league as well, but I need to agree with jon1270 that getting drunk every night = bad crowd, honestly. One of the things you'll need to do is befriend fun people who don't have that habit so that your future sober life has company. That knitting circle/who scarf is a great idea.
posted by dabitch at 4:57 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: You don't need to beat yourself up. You had a very painful procedure, both emotionally and physically. They put you on opioids. Opioids make you feel like you're safe, everything's okay, and the future is bright. I'm pretty sure everyone is addicted to that feeling, and spend their days trying to achieve it, and are crushed when they fail. I'm not surprised at all that you moved to heroin.

For perspective: I got morphine after my surgery last winter, and omg I suddenly understood why so many people get addicted to opioids. I'm not sure how any society with access to opiates ever managed to get anything done. I only had it for a single afternoon. It feels dangerously good.

You didn't randomly take up heroin. You were pushed into this corner through no fault of your own, and anyone who's taken morphine should understand how that happened. Your doctor should have been more careful about the kind of drugs s/he was giving you and how much, particularly with a history of addictions. You were in a lot of pain and this is what they do for people in a lot of pain. Often those people don't recover and never have to recover from their addiction. You're different.

Don't blame yourself for this.

You know what, you're going to get through this, and you're going to feel like that good again because you'll really be safe, and on top of the world, and everything really will be okay. And you won't need the drugs to feel that way. Those friends don't sound like they're much good for you, but the job sounds like it will still be around. They seem to understand that this isn't your fault. Just do your best and when you go back, you hold your head high, because you found yourself in a difficult situation, in a lot of pain, and clawed your way back to the other side.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:04 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You sound like you have a decent handle on getting out of your bind in a productive way. I agree with the above that you need a new peer group, because alcohol and the daily-drunk lifestyle can destroy you just as much as heroin. A poor substitute.

I realize you're broke and unemployed at the moment, so this might not be easy, but if you're starting over anyway, have you considered trying a new city? Picking a place with more sun and less rain can do wonders to your internal mood-control system, and getting away from those friends sounds good anyway.

(I like the rain, myself, and I find the lingering sadness in rainy cities quite beautiful, but it doesn't sound like the right place for your current state of mind.)
posted by rokusan at 5:25 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: Is there something you can bring into your life that you can incrementally get better at? I was thinking of running, because I like to run, but maybe somthing non-physical, like cooking, and maybe the knitting thing? It sounds like you feel a lack of forward momentum, which is easy to do because it sounds like you're feeling motionless.

Secondly, can you ask if your job will let you get back part time? I don't think you should go back full time, because it sounds like you need to do and are doing some powerful self-reflection and the act of busy-ness can detract from that. You really sound like you're doing some growing as a person, and sometimes that sucks, but I think you should allow it to happen and take pride in the fact that you're doing it. Growing is rarely easy or fun, unfortunately.

Re. the teeth: I had a tooth extracted last year and went into a three week freak-out about it; I mean, crying in the car freakout. There is something incredibly deep and visceral about teeth, and they're connected to lots of other things about our childhood, social class, health, feelings of loss. Maybe even fear of death. I kind of hashed out what the implications were for me, and it's taken over a year but cosmetically it'll be okay soon...I don't have advice to offer on that part--just that I understand how bad it must suck to lose all your teeth, and that there's stuff to learn from it and eventually you'll feel okay w/your mouth again. It sounds like the experience freaked you out as badly as mine did, and I guess I'm just saying, pay attention to what's underneath your feelings.

Good luck. I think you'll be okay.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:28 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: I'm mostly posting here just to say that you're not alone, you're part of the MeFi community and hey, we're here for you, even if it's just for you to post to AskMe and know that someone *will* respond.

If, for the sake of your depression, you can set a routine for yourself, that would help lift you out of the funk at least a little bit; help you get your nose above water, if not your whole head. It doesn't have to be elaborate - wake up and go to bed at the same times every day. Eat meals (or snacks, or whatever) at the same time. Be sure you eat SOMETHING - low blood sugar isn't going to help your situation at all. Even if it's just an apple at a time, feeding your body will help feed your soul.

I get the religious aspect of NA being a turn off, but perhaps a few meetings might give you a sense of purpose in establishing a routine - someplace to BE. If nothing else, I would recommend going back to establish a support group of people who *aren't* drinking every night. As well-meaning as your friends are, you need to be around a different crowd to really help you get/stay clean.

Be well. Keep us updated.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:40 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: First thing, though, take the jars to the bathroom and flush the piss. Sitting surrounded by your own waste is not going to help you get into a positive place.

Oh, yeah -- also that. No more being surrounded by pee. You don't have to cartwheel into shining mental health in two minutes or two days or two weeks, but you do have to start by not being surrounded by pee.

And I do think you should let someone in -- either NA (lots of people get help through it without engaging in God stuff) -- or a friend. Shame is compounded and reinforced by isolation.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:41 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: mediocre, I only know what I've read from your posts and comments here, but it's clear that you're a genuinely interesting, smart person with a lot of tenacity. It probably means nothing but I remember your name because I've liked things you've written, and thought you were a person I would like to know.

There's resources posted here already, and it sounds like there are people out there who can and want to help you. Things might be utterly shitty right now but (with a lot of perseverence and damn hard work) you can get past it, and you will. If you can deal with and access counselling, roll up your sleeves and get down to working on it that way. It may also give you opportunities to build your own routine

Also, if you have any friends who aren't heavily into drinking or drugs, look to them for support, meet them to go for a walk once a week, whatever. The knitting circle sounds like an excellent way to meet new people with a totally different lifestyle, and while getting to know new people takes a lot of time, you've got a scarf to work on in the meantime.

It's worth fighting for, and I very very deeply wish you strength throughout.

Just as an aside, if you have access to the Doris zine anthology, one of the early issues has the Anti-Depression guide. It's not a miracle solution and it won't replace rent or work or anything, but the tiny things in it about what to do with your day come close to what I've used when I've been profoundly depressed. Worth a look if it's easy to get your hands on.
posted by carbide at 5:58 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are more than 10 strangers have taken the time to respond to your post in just a couple of hours, your housemates let you stay despite being pissed off at you, and your employer offered to let you come back to work once you've sorted yourself out. The last one particularly makes me think that you must've been a really great employee, otherwise they wouldn't be willing to take another chance on you. It also sounds like you have a bunch of friends who might be bad for you, but they like spending time with you. So even on the little evidence I have, you're definitely a valuable person.

Plus, what you're dealing with is really really hard and heavy. You don't sound that irrational to me; you sound overwhelmed. And fair enough too. Most people are fortunate enough never to find themselves in a situation like yours, so instead of beating yourself up for finding yourself in such a position, give yourself a little credit for getting clean, sticking it out, and reaching out for help. To me, that is impressive and shows great strength of character. Keep reaching out til you find the help you need - the helpline listed above, the counselling service, the most stable of your friends.

Perhaps to help with routine until you're ready to go back to work, you can think of time in smaller blocks. It is hard when the future blindly stretches out in front of you and you don't have any concrete times to set store by, but if you break each day up into hour blocks to fill, that might make things easier. An hour for exercise each day, an hour to read the news, an hour at the library, an hour to prepare a meal, an hour with a counsellor, a couple of hours for your knitting class etc., might be easier to come at than x weeks of blank canvas.

I really hope that you find a way to make things better. I think you can do it. Good luck.
posted by Emilyisnow at 6:09 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: Considering the length (and interest) of your posting, perhaps writing about your experience might procure you some therapy, work, routine, and cash. "Everything is copy," they say. Contact your local papers with 500 to 1000 words on what you've been through, leading up to your current situation. Tell them you'd like to do a weekly column in which you try different local things to see if they convince you to hold on to life a little longer. Perhaps in your initial sending you should write an article about the knitting group. Send the idea to as many local papers as you can, and be prepared for rejection. Everyone gets rejection often. Tell them you'd be willing to have someone else write your story, to be your personal journalist, if they don't like your writing style. "I'll do articles about local entertainment and restaurants for you, to see if they'll convince me to stay alive." Sounds just about perverse and exciting to me to be a hit with the editors, if they like the risk.

Basically, make your life your job, and make its betterment the goal of that job. You'll meet people, you'll get limitless response from people, and it will, if it succeeds, be enough of a feel-good activity to get you back on your feet. It may even offer you a lifetime job.

Just one of the many solutions out there. If you'd like to send me an example of your writing, I work with a couple of different publications, and could tell you whether I believe someone might be interested in it. I'd be happy to help you edit it. If nothing else, I'm quite fascinated in your story already. I'd love to be able to keep up with where it goes from here. I'm sure I'm not the only one (just look at the responses your case has generated already). For your information, I live in New York, amongst probably the world's biggest collection of on-the-edge people—they might relate to your situation personally, so try local New York papers as well. I imagine, for example, that New York Press would absolutely love the idea. Village Voice might, Chelsea News...there are several that come to mind. Even the New York Post could work.

Give it a shot. Looking forward to hearing from you (send me a message through my profile),

posted by omnigut at 7:09 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: I am sorry to hear your situation, it really sucks. One thing I hope you will do is reconsider NA. You may not like it, but it offers many of the things you really need right now: most especially peer support from people who have been where you are right now. You really don't need to be drinking or even to be around drunks. The NA meeting will give you a support group, and if you can bring yourself to listen, the message might help. You need to "live one day at a time" and "fake it till you make it" and all the other slogans the 12-steppers live by. Maybe you don't believe in God, but you clearly believe in MeFi as a Greater Power or you wouldn't have posted this AskMe. Well your GP is asking you please to continue with your meeting for 6 weeks--if it doesn't help you can try something else.
posted by RussHy at 7:26 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: A few quick comments:

First sorry about your current state.

Good for you for taking an honest assessment of your situation. That is a HUGE positive step. Thank you for your honesty.

I know from personal experience that in a state of depression it seems impossible to take even one positive step. But do it. Find one small thing you can do to make things better, and do that one thing.

I concur that you should reconsider NA. I understand the problem you may have with the "higher power" part. To be honest, I do believe in God, but I even had some trouble with that when attending Al-Anon meetings. In a way, I just didn't want it to be part of the meeting. On the other hand... when you are at a point of desperation, is this really the time to be splitting hairs about the semantics of spirituality. The whole point of the "higher power" is to get you outside yourself.

Good luck!
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:38 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: Wow. You know what strikes me most about your posting is that you wrote it under your own name - not Anonymous. That's a whole mess of guts you've got.

You've really been through the wringer. Any one of these elements would have been bad enough to cripple the ordinary person: the dental ordeal, the opiates fiasco, the job loss, getting OFF the junk, the anxiety about everyone judging you for this stuff, and even the plain old garden variety depression. Hell, depression on it's own without all the other stuff is enough to keep a person in bed for a month.

Frankly, I think that the fact you've hung in there and kept your faculties about you to the degree of writing such an eloquent post demonstrates ample evidence that you're kind of a badass mofo and way way tougher than I am. Hats off.

Think of someone you love and respect. Put them in your circumstances. How would you advise them? Would you judge them and ditch them, if they were going through the tribulations you have and were feeling the way you feel now? Please be as kind and forgiving to yourself as you would be to that friend.

You're in the hole right now, but I can promise you, you won't always be. These are the times that make us appreciate normal. You'll have gained such a profound gratitude for what most people take for granted every day. Having been in the dark and come out of it, you'll have the empathy and authority to help others out of it in the future, knowing whereof you speak. You've gained so much wisdom from this. Your post demonstrates that you're very self aware and intelligent - the experiences you've been through aren't being wasted on you because you're taking every lesson from them in the most fundamental sort of education there is. You've earned your degree in Survival and I think you even made Dean's List. Please don't kill yourself, that'd be to burn down the library you've become.

Dump the pee. Walk in the world like you deserve. Take a wonderful hot shower and put on clean stuff. Eat something with a lot of protein. Throw out the accumulated rubbish in your room. Air it out and change your bedding. Thank your housemates. They'll be glad to see you up and about and behaving like a human, they've been worried about you. Follow up with the mental health resources provided by folks above. There are definitely resources for the uninsured and poor - free and sliding scale. I know this cos they helped me out of 2 years of agoraphobia, depression, and panic disorder. There are lots of people who have gone through this stuff - you're not alone.

We can see you've got humility down pat. But you deserve dignity too. Please love and forgive yourself so you can walk tall again, you've earned it many times over and you can teach so much if you wanted to.

I'd love to see your scarf in progress. It's kind of a neat metaphor for your own progress, isn't it? I would love to see it done and you wearing it proudly! Knitting is awesome. You can knit during therapy sessions, at a cafe, in the library. You can be out in the world among people working on your project, which is a comforting and sort of meditationally soothing activity and dissipates anxiety. Tactile texture and color are pure art material in your hands. It doesn't get much more basic than string and two sticks. And you can be sure that as your scarf takes shape, nerdy cool people will definitely recognize it and give you a big dorky grin of appreciation.

I'm a handspinner. I make yarn from wool, alpaca, silk fibers, mohair, and whatever other interesting bits I can card and dye. If you take to the knitting, can a make you a skein of something cool? It's pretty typical to do a hat after a scarf, and it'd be the right amount.

Of course you have to be not-dead, so please look after that.
posted by Lou Stuells at 8:04 AM on January 19, 2009 [11 favorites]

Best answer: I'm not a medical professional, and I don't have any special expertise or wisdom. I don't know if it will help, but I'd like to tell you a personal story which I hope will help you in some small way.

In 1999, my best friend was a very sweet guy with clinical depression. That year, he was in and out of hospitals because his parents would commit him when they thought he was in danger of making a suicide attempt. He tried at least seven different medications in various combinations and strengths, he was treated by many different psychiatrists, and he tried several different treatment programs. It was exhausting. I have to admit that after a while, I started to lose hope. I didn't know what I could do to help him, as my best efforts at being a good friend to him were not the magic bullet, and so many professionals had tried that it started to feel like he was doomed.

I remember one day when we were talking over IM and he asked me to give him a reason to live. He straight up told me he was going to kill himself right then unless I came up with something about tomorrow, not in general but the next day, that was worth living one more day for. My mind went blank. Suddenly, I couldn't think of anything. Everything I did think of sounded stupid. I ended up saying that he shouldn't kill himself because we had both promised to help another friend move, which always makes me laugh when I remember it. Anyway, I think it worked, but I'll never know because while I was typing out my answer I was simultaneously calling his parents to tell them what he had told me. They committed him again. Then he was out again, but not better. Things kept going as before.

About a month later, they sent him to a new treatment program, and it worked. He's married now, and has a good job, and seems to be happy (we've lost touch over the years).

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, there was no magic moment where things got easier. To my knowledge, he didn't have any revelation. He (and his parents) just kept trying one thing after another. His parents never gave up on him, no matter how many times they tried a treatment and it failed to help. And, in time, they found the treatment that worked. And for the last decade or so, he has been happy.

To you, then, I would say: start trying. I am not sure what that means for you - if not NA, then a different program? One-on-one counseling? Group therapy of some kind? Whatever you try, if it doesn't work, try more. Never give up on yourself. You're in a deep tunnel, and you can't see the light at the end, but I promise you - it's there. The people around you believe in you. Their judgment is better than yours. Trust in them. I wish I knew more about your area and the resources that are available there. In any case, if you can just find one person to ask for help - even a family doctor, or a social worker - who can connect you to what's out there, do it.

One last story.

I went through a rough patch a few years ago. I was isolated from my friends and family, alone in a new place, and I had no money, no job, and absolutely no idea what to do or how to get out of the mess I was in. I was living on the first floor of an apartment building, and it was fall. One by one, then in greater numbers, camel crickets began to invade my apartment. These insects look like a cross between a roach and a spider and they jump at your face. They terrified and disgusted me. Because I was in a really bad state emotionally, I found that I just couldn't deal with them. I would drown them in puddles of 409 and cover them with a kleenex. After a month, my apartment was carpeted with camel cricket corpses under tissues. It was disgusting and shameful. Most importantly, it made me feel insane. It didn't feel like I was behaving as a normal person would behave, and the camel crickets were proof. One day in November, I finally worked up the courage to deal with it. I put on giant rubber gloves, rain boots, very old clothes, and tied a kerchief over my mouth. I got a trash bag and a broom and I got every last dead bug out of my apartment. Then I cleaned every surface. I cried bitterly the entire time. It was a total nightmare for me. Once my apartment was clean, I felt better. Now it was the apartment of a sane person.

So: clean out your room. Just accept that it's going to suck, but do it. Flush the pee, trash the jars, open a window, do what you need to do to make it a space you can inhabit without shame. That's step one. Step two: find someone, anyone, and ask for help. If it doesn't work, find someone else. Keep going. I know that if you do, this time in your life will be one you look back on with sympathy for yourself and gratitude for the happy life you will have made.
posted by prefpara at 8:13 AM on January 19, 2009 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Can you apply for other jobs to give you something to do (and some income) until you're prepared to go back to your real job? Fast food restaurants, many retail stores, warehouses, etc., none of them are going to have the same hiring criteria that your old job has, and so unless you have a ridiculously long criminal record, you're likely to be able to find something.

Just being employed may help to rid you of some of your ancillary worries, leaving you more mentally free to pursue the other things that will get you better.

And I agree with the suggestion to call a suicide hotline or someone else you can talk to. At the very least, know the number for such a hotline so that if you start to go into a crisis, it'll be there for you.
posted by decathecting at 8:25 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your situation is pretty clear. In addition to your material difficulties you are suffering from low self-esteem, stemming from your 'shameful' drug addiction. Your low self-esteem is your recognition that you are powerless and socially isolated. Accordingly you can tackle your situation by taking methodical steps to increase your power and social connectedness.

How you do this is largely up to you. However, I have a couple of suggestions:

With regards to making you feel more powerful, I don't think blaming your circumstances is going to help. Moreover, I think you are right to scorn the submission to a 'higher power'. You should however utilise whatever resources are available (i.e. other people). In general take small positive steps towards taking control of your life by making tough decisions, rigourously maintaining your body, focusing on solid short term goals and achieving them.

With regards to your social isolation, I agree with some of the others above that your friends situation sounds pretty rubbish. If it was me, I would move back in with my parents or a close relative. If that option is not available to you, then you are still going to need to reach out to somebody trustworthy. Those helplines might be of use as well as an NA buddy.

You can get a job. You know you can. It's just likely to be a very bad job requiring hard work. But it will pay the rent. This is no time to be precious. Get down to the job office and take whatever shitty, manual labour job you can get. If you are so inclined, see it as your punishment for allowing your life to slip out of your control and failing to live up to your personal standards.

I always like to remember Nietzsche's 'that which does not kill me makes me stronger'. I think at the end of this, you will probably emerge a better person with a new set of values.
posted by leibniz at 9:29 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: Stop with the self-pity and asking others to feel pity for you. Start doing the right thing. You think you're the only person to ever get hooked on drugs? Or to lose a job? Give me a break. Get real.

You lost your teeth. Well... Ok. That's done. Over with. There's nothing you can do about that now. At least you didn't lose your legs. Same with the drugs, same with the job, same with everything that's ever happened to you. The great thing about life is that when you get up in the morning, time doesn't flow backwards. Never, ever. Every moment is a chance to recreate yourself.

Open your door. Throw out the jars of piss. Go take a shower. Clean your room. Go fill out applications so you can make some damn money -- a job is not just going to fall on your lap.

Not one damn good thing is going to fall on your lap if you don't make the effort. Start to plan and execute. If you want insurance, then research insurance and plan to get insurance. All sorts of things are out there. They exist; people have them. There are ways to do things and to get things.

May I humbly recommend that you do your best to find a wholesome activity that taps into your creative energies, and that you meet wholesome people.

Start being the best. I'm not joking. Be the best you that you can be. Expect it of yourself and give it.
posted by Theloupgarou at 9:58 AM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: If you are unemployed, with no income or savings, you can apply for Medicaid benefits at your county assistance office that you can use to get treatment. I would recommend filling an application out tomorrow as there's a lag while the application processes that can be lengthy depending on how ass backwards your local welfare department is.
posted by The Straightener at 10:22 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Everyone said what I was going to say. Except that it's excruciatingly difficult to kick a heroin habit and the fact that you were able to go through the withdrawal and not relapse- just because you knew it was destroying your life - takes an extraordinary amount of strength. I don't think I could be that strong. It might help if you allowed yourself to recognize that as an accomplishment. The lowest point isn't where you are now; it was when you were using.

Listen to the Straightener - he has a lot of experience helping people climb out of very deep holes.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:24 PM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: I just found a stack of papers from last summer when I was batshitinsane as a result of serious alcohol addiction mixed with SSRIs. I was really not lucid. And I wanted to die.

But today, I don't want to die. I don't want to drink. I have a job I enjoy.

I understand why the "higher power" issue of a twelve step program is a sticking point for you and for many many others. But you know how I dealt with it? I took a look at it, and realized that the words were, "God as we understood him." And you know what? I don't. I don't understand God. I don't really even understand the concept of God. But what I do know is that this world is bigger than me, and it is bigger than my experiences. And that these programs have helped a lot of people come back from some seriously shitty things. And you know what? That's what I need to move beyond that sticking point and get the help of AA.

But you know what you also need to hear when you are in this dark place? That 12 step programs are not the only thing that has ever helped people come back from seriously shitty places. There are a lot of ways that people have come back from the brink, and you've already started to do that.

Get into treatment. Get stable. Work will come. So will all those other trappings of everyday living. But, as the twelve-steppers say: First things first. You have to stop living in all those very complex things that are not doable right now. Today? You have to not use. Today you have to eat three times. Today you have to sleep normal hours, not more and not less. That's it. You have to start over, and you have to start from the very basics. And you know what? Doing that makes you a winner today. Right now.
posted by greekphilosophy at 1:16 PM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you've really been through the wringer. I can't even imagine how much crap you've had to deal with.

I echo the general sentiment here, and I want to reiterate one thing. This is gonna sound maybe really lame, and maybe even offensive, but I've found that in one's moments of pain and suffering, some really valuable--perhaps our most valuable--experiences in life can be wrought. There is a way to spin gold out of tar, bile, and vomit. The way there may be easy or difficult, depending on who you are and what circumstances life has given you, but the greatest things in life, I believe, come from the darkest depths. You were apparently, strong enough for the first half of your journey, even though part of you is frightened and despairing right now.

Please, please, keep going. If I had given up years ago, I would have seen only one side of the story, and not the other half of it.

When does it get better? I can't give you a date. I can tell you, however, one way to help the process: which is to transform your perspective on how you see things. Philosophy or spirituality is a way some of have used to begin this transformation. There are other ways, but of those I'm not sure.

I haven't read it myself yet, so forgive me, but I have heard good things about Pema Chodron's "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times." This is a woman who has gone through a lot of pain in her life, and found a way to transform herself through Tibetan Buddhist philosophy (a non-deist version, if that matters to you.)

I'm sorry for all that you've suffered. I send you my best wishes, with all my heart.
posted by uxo at 1:54 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Lots of amazing advice here. I hope you are able to feel loved by the universe that these people are here to share with you some other things to try. I know that sounds sappy, but based on my own dark times and sharing space with others who have gone through similar depths as the one you are now exploring...these people and their advice equate to a balm in a hard world. A cosmic blessing.

Mushiness over, I only have one thing to add to the solid input above:
You craft! You do a thing! Do that thing and build an Etsy shop. Make what you can as you learn, sell it cheap, and just make it your thing to do while you do all of the productive, proactive, positive things the folks above are listing. When you don't know what to do with your hands, when you're afraid, when you feel like you need to stay quiet - craft. Give some away to the good people around you. Let them know you've got a storefront in case someone likes what you've made.

I know this might sound silly, but crafting has literally saved my life. I used found beading materials to feed myself and my brother 20 years ago, selling bracelets and such outside of a reggae club in Dallas. I used found t-shirts and an old stock of acrylic paint to make unique t-shirt designs and sold them outside punk shows in Houston to get groceries for the family. My list goes on and on - I can't advocate the healing and feeding power of craft enough, if you're at all interested in making things.

Cobble together your solution out of all of the good advice here and hold it tight to yourself. If something feels like it's hurting more than helping, try another thing on the list. I'm contactable through my profile if you ever find yourself questioning existence and need to find a listener via scattershot. I've been there, I love many people who have been there, and I've lost more people than I'd care to list...and I wish they'd known they had a non-judgmental, supportive ear in more random people than they thought possible.
posted by batmonkey at 1:59 PM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: And I feel the need to add this, but it is certainly your choice to do what you want with your life.

There is certainly hope for you, if only for the fact you seem to realize this. (Not everybody does.)
posted by uxo at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: If you can't kick the habit look into Igoba. There are treatment centers outside of the US.

Everyone's mostly said everything but I'll add:

1.) Bummer, man
2.) You've gotta help yourself - no one else will do it for you
3.) Not all is lost - you can do it. And once you get rid of the addiction - because that is really messing with your sense of self-worth and "usefulness" - you can start taking care of yourself psychologically. But get your mind, body and soul clean first, then figure out who you are.

PS Addiction is no fun, have had too many brilliant friends waste their lives away strung out in front of the tv.
posted by HolyWood at 2:32 PM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: You should consider applying for Medicaid/seeing what type of aid you can get to get back on your feet.

Also, most 20-somethings do not get drunk every night. People who do are probably not the best people to be friends with while trying to get/stay clean.
posted by fructose at 3:17 PM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: Please do not hurt yourself. Read How Not to Commit Suicide. If you feel like hurting yourself, call 9111 or go to the emergency room.

Posting this here means you want to get help, want things to get better. Things can and will get better. The phone book should list emergency mental health resources.

Good luck. Please keep us posted.
posted by theora55 at 3:34 PM on January 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you to everyone who has responded. I dreaded revisiting this thread as I put it out there non-Anon for everyone to see and associate with me. I didn't want to see what was in essence a living breathing monument to my problems, demons, whatever. I wanted to pretend I never wrote this, probably drop off MeFi for a while and hope that people just forgot about it whenever I came back. But then came a flood of well wishing MeMail's, and when I decided to read through here I started crying from the first post and didn't stop until 20 minutes after I read the last. I know I am worth the effort and pain of living through the hard times, but doing it alone is what drives people mad. Right now, at this moment, I don't feel so alone and cannot stop crying good tears because of it. I honestly don't know what the future holds for me, as homelessness looms on the very near horizon if I cannot find income seriously quick.. as in, 3 days ago.. My phone will be disconnected in days, so job searching will become all that much more difficult. My bank account is overdrawn. I have a small amount of money from my final paycheck that I can't decide whether to apply to my overdrawn balance and I'm trying to think of anything I have that I can sell for rent money. I have to be goal oriented and focus instead of feeling overwhelmed in a sea of problems. Right now that goal is: keep a roof over my head.. stay tuned..
posted by mediocre at 5:05 PM on January 19, 2009

I'm so sorry.

I was in pretty bad shape from 4-6 years ago (as in, that entire timespan), toward the tail end of it I had no job, a ton of debt and nothing to show for it, no way to pay bills other than racking up charges to the limit on my credit cards, depression and terrible anxiety, months of gloomy, cold, miserable weather, no health insurance, only one good friend who was excessively busy (dissertation + teaching full time). And on and on.

So.. here is one thing I did that helped me, a lot.. I walked every day to either a coffee shop or the public library, and did some reading. These books in particular were very helpful in getting me to step back, start to see things in a different way, try somehow to see that all the bad stuff that happened had, in some ways, been a gift. I know that sounds absurd, but I am saying, try to focus on some things you can be grateful for even from bad experiences, that would let you grow and change, it is an opportunity. What Uxo said is great advice IMHO.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
some excerpts of this ^^^ here

Pema Chodron:
The Places That Scare You
When Things Fall Apart

Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, Mark Epstein (this is also about psychotherapy, it's v interesting)

Sorry for links to Amazon, I just went for what was convenient. Anyway the public library is free, fresh air and exercise are good, one thing to do would be to get up, get ready, and walk to the library every day, and read something (even if it's just a little) that is positive, and walk home. Oh, and the advice to clean your room, really clean it, is also very good.
posted by citron at 5:36 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you lose your housing, new housing can be arranged for you during an inpatient rehab stay. Like the rehab stay, recovery housing will likely be funded by your county welfare department. These things vary from state to state so I don't know what resources will be available to you. Recovery houses aren't glamorous; they are usually in bad neighborhoods, can be crowded and a little rowdy, but it's better than being on the streets in the middle of winter. There will most likely be a 12 Step component to both the rehab stay and the recovery housing, which will probably chafe you, but, again, listening to some people talk some shit you don't want to hear a couple times a day is probably better than detoxing in your local homeless shelter, which if it's anything like Philly will be filthy and very dangerous.

You can just do a medical detox and refuse the rehab stay if your 12 Step aversion is that strong. Buprenorphine is becoming the standard medication for opiate detox and it's quite good -- I was detoxed on it, myself. Even though it's quite good, you will still be in for a world of hurt, but I suspect you know this.

If you chose to just take the detox stay you'll be cutting yourself off from housing and other resources that might become available to you if you do a full rehab stay, so you might want to consider hanging in for the long haul, especially if you're about to be homeless.

The good thing about welfare medical benefits is that they are usually very good for the purpose of obtaining drug treatment. Private insurance usually pays for the medical detox but skimps on the rehab bed. You have to fight them to get every day you stay, and they'll try to bounce you as early as possible. On welfare you'll likely get the full 28 days, just don't burn them by leaving the rehab AMA (against medical advice). If you AMA yourself it will show up on your file if you need rehab again and you'll be less likely to get full funding the next time. Don't be to proud to get the welfare coverage, that's how I went to rehab -- unemployable and uninsured, just like you -- and it was the best thing I ever did.

If you smoke, bring lots of cigarettes as you won't be able to leave once you're in.

Drop me a line if you have any other questions.
posted by The Straightener at 5:48 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

You've got a lot of insight into yourself, how you've reacted and what you need. Congratulations. Seriously, it blows me away. Perspective like that is rare. It's also gonna be way useful in the recovery you now face.

It sounds like you are over the physical addiction. Congratulations again, that took moxie.

Do get the jars out of your room. Do tell your housemates that you are unable to make the rent, but that you will have your job back at X time, and see if they are willing to bargain. You may have to agree to do their cleaning or something. But it sounds like they aren't total hardnoses, so there's potential for a deal.

Really, really do take the advice about finding a circle of friends who do not resort to any intoxication for confidence or entertainment. Find a half-dozen Meetup groups that spark your interest, and become a regular at at least two of them, whether it's for slam poetry or cross-country running or whatever.

Do start living cheaply: Cook from scratch, it's healthful and tasty and cheap. Get your entertainment from a public library. Save your money so you can make rent. Even ask your bank about getting a loan to stop the gap (make sure they know that your employer has said you can come back).
posted by eritain at 6:12 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are so many things you are facing, all at once, but for now, for tonight -- do only one thing. Clean your room.

1. Do all your laundry -- all of it, bedding included. Organize your books. Go through all those papers and crap that everyone accumulates. Vacuum or sweep. Run a rag soaked in water and a little bleach over the baseboards and windowsills. If you have wood furniture, polish it. Listen to punk (or whatever pumps your 'nads) while doing this. Clean and organize absolutely everything in your room.
2. Go take a shower. Put on clean sweats or whatever you lounge in.
3. Now rearrange the furniture in your room. Put the bed in some other place even if it blocks the closet door a little. Do you have a plant? Put it where it is the center of attention. If you don't have a plant (you need a plant) go pick something green out of the yard and put it in a glass.
4. Now, sit on the bed. Look around. You have what you started with, but with a lot of work, you made it nice. A pleasant place to be. And you made it different -- this isn't the same view you saw when you were suffering yesterday or any of the days before that.

Do this, and then you will see the next step. And the next. And the next. Et voila, life.
posted by Methylviolet at 9:09 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

I came late to this thread and everybody else has given such wonderful advice already, so I can only send you warm thoughts, all this shall pass if you want it to. I do think the worst thing about your situation is feeling that you are alone in the world; this thread alone should show you that you are definitely not. Good luck.
posted by keijo at 10:40 PM on January 19, 2009

Another latecomer who wants to wish you well - you have gone through a lot of crap, but you've stopped using, and that's amazing. You should be proud of yourself for that. Getting a hobby is a great idea. Sometimes when things are bad, we can all be our own worst enemy, minds spinning endlessly through negative thoughts. Something to try while knitting is listening to audiobooks. The action will help you relax and keep your hands busy, and listening to a book will get your mind out of the negative rut it's running in. Librivox has a lot of the classics. Also, while you are looking for work, maybe you can do odd jobs for friends? I once cleaned friends' apartments for extra cash - other things could be painting or fixing stuff. It might even be a good idea to offer to do odd jobs for people without asking for money, just to keep yourself busy, and feeling useful.
good luck - you can get through this
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:11 AM on January 20, 2009

I'm glad to hear that you're feeling a bit better and that this thread has helped some. Please keep us updated if there's anything that strangers from the internets can do to help you through this.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:55 AM on January 20, 2009

One time a friend of mine experienced another friend kill herself. Friend 1 asked me what stops me from killing myself (I've mused on it a couple, three, ach...several times). My answer: it's going to happen anyway.
posted by telstar at 6:30 AM on January 20, 2009

Just want to add my well-wishes. Someone very dear to me kicked a 3-year H habit with methadone. It's always an option, but probably should be considered a last resort. You can and will get through this. You're so lucky that your job will take you back! I bet that's because they consider you very valuable. Take good care of yourself and know that you've got a lot of online friends in your corner.
posted by xenophile at 6:27 PM on January 20, 2009

I just wanted to say hang in there, things can get really bleak some times. I'm going through a hard time right now as well and I just keep telling myself things are going to get better. I hope you can hold on to something that will give you the strenght to go on. Find something that you can make better in your life right now, anything that you know you can improve and do it. Even if it's just cleaning up your room or kitchen or car or whatever little thing that you can do, and say there I've made this a little better. Good luck.
posted by nola at 8:25 PM on January 20, 2009

Agree with eritain on the perspective thing. I don't think you realise how strong you appear to be from your post.

Please don't hate me for saying this but if you think about it, the lowest ebb is indeed the turn of the tide.
posted by xm at 8:05 PM on October 10, 2009

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