Life was simple when I was younger but as I grew older, I lived in a world where I never thought I belonged. The majority of my life was spent trying to find where I fit in and I struggled with a sense of belonging. From difficulty at home to extreme bulling at school, there always seemed to be this disconnect between myself and other people. Through the years of struggle and a series of unfortunate events, I was left with no self worth, no thought of a positive future for myself, no recognition that I was worthy of any sort of good life. I felt I was never pretty enough, smart enough or good enough.
To start coping with all of the fear, insecurity and pain, I fell into a life of addiction. I found what I thought was a friend in substances. They took away all of those negative thoughts and feeling and turned me into a completely different person. I thought I found where I fit in. What I found though was that euphoria from using substances wore off…..and wore off fast. Before I knew it my entire life revolved around my addiction and I was more alone then I ever had been. I had cut myself off from my family, burned many bridges with so-called friends and was living in a very unhealthy environment, wasting away to nothing.
One night I had a moment of clarity – just a brief one, but that is all it took. I looked at what my life had become and I knew that I was either going to continue down that long road of misery and probably die or I was going to get up and get help. It took me a few attempts but I finally decided on the latter.
After trying to reach out to multiple treatment centers in the Ottawa Area, I finally came across the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Center. After looking over the programming it offered, I realized that this 3 month residential program was the place I needed to be. I walked through the doors of the centre with no hope, no thought of success, and no plan for a future outside of the life I was in. I was ready to accept my fate of death if this did not work. I am truly grateful that is not how it ended.
My life completely changed during my stay at the Dave Smith Centre. Not only was my addiction addressed but so were all the underlying issues surrounding it. I was able to start focusing on my anger, insecurities and self-worth with the help of the amazing staff. I started finding enjoyment in things I never had enjoyed before like exercising and art. I learned how to open up and be vulnerable with people. Most importantly I was able to let my family back in my life. I no longer felt like I had to hide from them. I was no longer ashamed of who I had become.
The Dave Smith Centre showed me how to let down the walls I built so high. They showed me the path to recovery and in doing so, gave me the ability to have solid relationships with family and friends built on mutual communication, honesty, love and respect.
Today I can proudly say that I am over 2 years clean and sober. I help run an office for a major company here in Ottawa. I have a beautiful partner and step-son. I have found a passion in photography. My life is filled with things I never thought I would have and it all started with Dave Smith Youth Treatment Center.
I learned at the Dave Smith Centre that we are more than just our addiction.
So with today being Valentine’s Day, I know that love of self helped me get to where I am today. Thank you for reading my story.
Please continue to show your support and give other youth like myself a fighting chance.
P.S. Trivia Pursuit of Happiness is happening February 28. Join in the trivia fun – teams of 6 needed. Visit here for more information.