I grew up in a wealthy neighborhood and my parents often told me how “I lived in a bubble.” I had been sheltered from violence, suffering and hardships since they would cushion my every fall. I was raised Catholic, and attended Catholic schools. I was bound to succeed and be as perfect as the quaint world around me.
At the end of my freshman year of high school, I felt like there was something missing from my life. I felt like there wasn’t much excitement. I made new friends and started partying. I took my first drink, and everything from that point forward was out of control. It was like a switch was turned on for the first time. Drinking became something I did every weekend with my new friends. My old friends distanced themselves from me. I felt really depressed and so I switched schools mid way through the year. It was definitely one of the worst choices we could’ve made as a family–things went from bad to worse.
I was a very self-conscious sophomore who had no idea who she was, what she stood for. But what she did know for sure was that she was going to do whatever it took to make friends. On April 20th, someone thought it would be funny to try to offer the new girl some pot brownies to make some cash. It was one of the first times someone showed interest in me. I was so excited; I thought I was actually going to fit in, so I bought two.
I was hesitant to try them, but everyone assured me that everything was going to be fine. I ate both brownies and felt loved. After about half an hour, I started feeling the effects of the pot. I felt very paranoid, that my teacher knew that I had done pot. After class, I went up many flights of stairs and told a teacher I felt like I was going to pass out. She assigned one of the other students to walk down to the nurse with me. I remember very little after that–I blacked out while I was walking down the stairs. Some people said I ran into a wall, others said I had a seizure.
I will never forget that day and how embarrassed I was. It made me even more self-conscious. Soon, the pot smokers started hanging around me and I became friends with a girl named Abby. She convinced me to give pot another try, that I just had to learn how to handle it. She was very reassuring telling me how smoking pot was different than eating it. Thinking she had my best intentions at heart, I trusted her and tried smoking it. I fell in love.
I smoked all the time after school, on the weekends, whenever I could get my hands on a device. I felt totally relaxed; my confidence was high. The anxiety I had since I was a small girl in kindergarten had evaporated into thin air. It was a temporary escape from the bullying. After smoking pot with Abby for a year, she introduced me to ecstasy. It became a new love of mine, an obsession. I had heard that it made holes in your brain, but I didn’t care. I just wanted all my feelings of sadness and pain to be washed away. After taking ecstasy, I felt like nothing could get me down, and no one could make me sad. Doing drugs became more than just an avenue to make friends, it become my coping mechanism.
However, once my parents discovered what I had been doing, they sent me away to a wilderness program. I met with a therapist weekly and lived outdoors with eight other girls for two and a half months with no access to air conditioning. I hiked daily with other girls in my age group for four miles to gain access to more water at our new campsite. We cooked our own food, made our own fire and built our own shelter. After those sixty-nine days I felt more empowered and sure of myself.
After those two months, I was transferred to a residential treatment center where I stayed for six months with twenty other girls around my age who were struggling with heavy personal issues. I went to AA meetings, grew to love myself, and learned to live a sober lifestyle. I was a leader. For the first time, people actually wanted to look up to me! I began to understand the love my parents had for me, and without them I’m not sure where I would be today.
I graduated my treatment facility roughly nine months ago and have been living a normal life for the very first time. There is no need for drugs, alcohol, or dependence on anyone or anything. I became a vegan two months ago in hopes to be the healthiest “me” I can be. I have loved this new journey and developed a love for running. Exercise and nutrition are very powerful, especially in synergy. The long term benefits from the two far outweigh the temporary high from the drugs and alcohol, and I’m never looking back.
About Ally Fitzgerald:
Ally Fitzgerald is a recent high school graduate about to start her studies at Florida Southern College. She has been sober for eighteen months, and hopes that by sharing her story, she can reach out and provide encouragement to others in need.
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