Sunday, 27 October 2013

FREEDOM - an update from Claire

In May 2013, I posted a heartbreaking story called "My World Came Crashing Down". It was about a young woman named Claire who was desperately trying to get help for her opiate addiction.

I've really gotten to know Claire over the past few months and she is an amazing young woman. This journey with addiction has brought so many wonderful people into my life. Claire is one of them. I am so pleased to give you an update on where she is at now, written in her own words. 

When you read her story, I hope that you will see why it is so important that we demand more from our government in terms of treatment for addiction. Many wonderful people like Claire, who have so much to offer the world, are lost to addiction. We have to provide life lines for them to find their way back. Treatment, compassion, and recovery support are those life lines. Because Claire finally received the help that she needed, she has her son back and he has his mommy back.

When Health Minister Doug Currie tables his Mental Health and Addictions Report and action plan on November 1st, I hope you will think of Claire and her son when you read it. The document may be just words on paper, but those words could mean life or death for people like Claire and my son. 

Here is Claire's story.... 

The moment I opened my eyes every morning, I awoke to my nightmare. For the longest time in my dreams, I wasn't me. I was someone else. I was always happy in my dreams.  My life was my nightmare.

Most mornings, I would lie in bed trying to fall back asleep so I could be happy again in my dreams. Unfortunately, no matter how long you stay in bed, you eventually need your fix. The longer you put it off, the sicker you will be. The quicker you do it, the less time you have until you need to do it all over again.

Imagine being in survival mode every day of your life. That's exactly what it's like to be an addict; every day is about survival.

Every day, before I picked up my toothbrush, I would pick up a pair of tweezers and very painfully peel the skin off my open wound around and on my nose.  I applied make up over it to try and hide the obvious infected wound on my face.

I could never tell if it was blood or drugs dripping down my nose, but I was constantly checking for this in mirrors when I was at work, home or anywhere else. For me, having this sore on my nose was like somebody had written “Addict” on my forehead. Everybody and anybody that looked at my face could tell what I was doing. For this, I had a lot of shame. I didn't like going out.  I could not leave the house without having piles of make up on my face. To this day, I still go to pick up that pair of tweezers, but I am sure glad that I don't have to do that anymore.

Once you lose yourself, it doesn't take long to lose everything else in your life. Now that I have found myself again, I no longer worry about losing my son, losing my family, losing my home, probation officers, jail, rehab, detox, money, drugs, or sickness.

The last time Rose posted my story, I was denied methadone. I didn't know what I was going to do at that point but I knew I couldn't take no for an answer. I called every doctor, every doctor at Mount Herbert, and did everything remotely possible to get in the methadone program. It was even a thought of mine to leave the island to try to get on methadone maintenance therapy in another Province, but I knew I would want to be able to come back to be with my son, and that would not be possible. Finally, for the first time in my life, I saw myself reaching out to different people; asking for help from people I thought I would never ask for help from.

Finally, I got a call back from my doctor. He said, “You're coming into detox on June 10th. You've been inducted into the methadone maintenance therapy program.”  It was the most out of body experience I've ever had. I cried and, at the same time, asked the same question over and over again to him. "Is it for sure?"

That day was a great day. It was the first sense of relief I’ve had in years.  I knew right then my life would be different. I knew that I had no chance for error. This was my time.  If this didn't work, nothing else would. I had to make it work.

Going to detox for the last time was a positive feeling. It was different this time. I was in a different headspace. I felt hopeful.  I took a lot more back from the meetings. I was positive the whole time.  I was just so happy that I was chosen. June 10th is my favorite day in the whole world for two reasons:  June 10th is my son's birthday, and June 10th is the day I got my life back.

After detox, I really wanted to commit to my recovery so I took the only rehab program offered on the island - the Strength program. This would be my third attempt. I wasn't too excited about going but I wanted to make sure I did everything possible to ensure recovery.

I only spent a month at the Strength program. I found it hard because they mixed all different types of addicts together, who were all at different stages in recovery, and who all had to live in a house together.  I decided to leave it because it wasn't the road to recovery that I needed. It wasn't the help that I needed. I was still very committed to my recovery, and had a very positive outlook on life. I just needed to find the support that would work for me. I decided to join the WrapAround Program and it was just what I needed.

The thing that I know about addiction and recovery is that there are many different types of addictions, and there are just as many different types of recovery options, so what works for one person may not work for the other.

Life couldn't be better for me. I am in the process of rebuilding my life. I dedicate my days to my son and my recovery, so now I am a good parent and a functional member of society. My family trusts me again. I have new friends. I was able to pay off all of my fines, including my criminal and traffic fines. I have paid off my student loan.

For the first time in a long time, I can wake up with a smile on my face. Life can never be perfect. I still have my struggles to this day but, after everything I've gone through, it doesn't seem as hard. It doesn't seem hopeless.

I am now six months into my recovery. I never thought I could say that. I am so proud to say that. I am now confident that my future will be better because of this experience. I'm going to dedicate my life to helping others. I’ve always known that I wanted to do that, but now I know it is my destiny to help other people who are dealing with an addiction, anxiety or depression.

My future goals include getting more community support for addiction, including bringing SMART Recovery to the Island. I am currently in the process of completing that goal with Rose and another wonderful lady as well as with another gentleman who also suffers with addiction and is in recovery.We are going to work as a team to get trained and to co-facilitate the meetings.

I feel like I have purpose in my life, not only am I a parent, which is a priceless feeling, but now I have the ambition and drive to make a change in bettering our Island with much needed resources for addicts. From detox to rehab and everywhere in between we need to improve all areas. From the lack of recovery options to society's judgement, there is a lot of work to be done. I am determined to make a difference. 

I wrote a poem today, and that's how I will end my story.

I stand for one
I stand for all
I'm there for those who are about to fall
I'm also there, for those who have been through it all
Let's stand as ONE
And let the Judgement be Done.

Sincerely Claire, living in paradise ♥


  1. So proud of you.Way to go!!! One day at a time. :)

  2. So happy and proud of you :)

  3. Claire, I am so happy to be reading this today. The sun is shining and it is wonderful to hear your heart warming story. Please cherish this gift that you have finally received and stick to the dedication that methadone and your recovery requires. You and your son and family and friends must be very proud. Take care.

  4. "No Swiming Allowed" in De-Nile =it is not a river but we can be drowned by it, if we so desire = find yourself a life saver / jacket today.
    Cheat, steal and lie or die.
    Cheat those who would keep you from being yourself.
    Steal time to look after yourself.
    Lie in the arms of the one who loves you.
    Claire, Keep up the great works.

  5. Therapeutic process 4 you.
    Please SHARE this WITH appropriate OTHERS.

    “One example of the principles and practice of Self Help”
    “The Therapeutic Process”
    + Regarding Reoccurring Negative Dreams and Flashbacks.


    A father and son, living on the West coast of Canada ( in the Vancouver area ), loved to go sailing between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The father, over the years, had
    upgraded from a small boat to a larger sail boat and the son was intending to follow his example, but, at the time of this example the son only had a small boat.

    One day the son went for a sail in his boat and a major storm came up which caused his boat to capsize. The son drowned on that day and his body was never recovered.

    As result, the father kept having a reoccurring dream regarding the loss of his son and the lack of closure. ( no funeral for closure because the son's body was never recovered )

    In the dream the father would go out in his sail boat to where his son had drowned and he would dive over the side and swim down to the bottom. When he would get to the bottom he would find a treasure chest and when he opened it up it would, always, be empty.
    ( it can be said that the father treasured his son )

    At that time, I was a co-facilitator of a therapeutic group in which the father ( as a participant ) told the story of his reoccurring dream and to address the problem the following potential solution was proposed to him.

    Write up his story including his emotions, feelings, appreciations, anger, resentments, positives and negatives of the relationship with his son and with his death, etc.
    Buy a small tree ( hopefully his sons favourite kind of tree).
    Take the write up, the tree and some pictures of his son ( + small personal objects / reminders of his son ) and take them to his son's favourite place.

    NOTE: His son's favourite place was up on a forested knoll over looking Horse Shoe Bay on the North Shore of Vancouver where he could see the marina that he and his father used to dock their sail boats.

    The father was to take the write up, the tree, the pictures and the personal
    objects to the knoll.
    Dig a hole for the tree / then read your write up ALOUD..
    Set fire to the papers ( write up ) pictures and personal items.
    Let the smoke go up into the air, the ashes and personal items fall into the hole.
    Plant the tree over them. ( burying them and the problem in order to gain closure )

    The father never had the reoccurring dream again...

    NOTE: People and their family members can, by using these principles and practices, gain closure in relation to various kinds of personal and family issues = loss of a loved one, abuse, addiction, PTSD ( especially reoccurring dreams ), suicide prevention, anger management, beginnings and endings, unfinished business, closure, etc.

    Some guidelines:

    Use your own imagination and creativity when you apply
    these principles and practices to your own personal + family issues.
    This can be done alone and/or with others who can appreciate their attendance
    and find value in the process.

    NOTE: This therapeutic process can stand alone and/or be an addition to
    existing individual or group therapy programs.

    Helpful hints:

    1. You can bury and get over your own personal / family issues and start an anger free life.
    2. Planting ( a living memorial, a bush, shrub or a crop ) represents hope for the future.
    3. “The obstacles in life, often, become precisely what is required”...

    Warm Regards, to family members dealing with the loss of a loved one(s) and related family issues ( past, present and future ).

    Author James L. Halstrum ( The Stone Shadow )
    P.O.Box 1326 Montague, PEI C0A-1R0 + Phone 902-838-2218

    Note: If this helps and/or saves the life of one person, I'll be pleased.

  6. Therapeutic process + GUILT +
    Two good friends got summer jobs at a convenience store. These two girls were such good friends, they were like sisters - always together in one way or another (in person/on the phone/texting/emailing). It hardly seemed like work when the two shared the same shift!

    One afternoon, a young man came into the store looking for a certain brand of cigarettes. He did not initially look suspicious - except for the long leather jacket and gloves he was wearing; it was a cloudless 30 degree afternoon in the middle of summer!

    It turned out that the particular brand of cigarettes was no longer being produced and the store did not have any more to sell. As per protocol, the girls explained this to the customer and suggested another kind. This did not go over well with the customer; he began to yell and throw things around the store. When one of the girls tried to calm the man, he pulled out a gun from one of the many pockets in his jacket and pointed it at one of the girls' head. Before the other girl was able to activate the soundless panic alarm, the irate customer spontaneously pulled the trigger; his hostage crumpled to the ground instantly.

    When the police got to the store to investigate the shooting, they encountered one teenage girl sobbing over the lifeless form of another. "It's all my fault!" she cried, "I should have hit the panic button earlier. Now look, my best friend in the entire world is dead."

    As the days progressed, the girl became more and more silent and kept to herself; her face was devoid of colour and the bright smile that once shone on her face - the faces of the two best friends. She refused to eat or care for herself; there was not a night that she did not have horrendous nightmares of being attacked herself or of experiencing the hostage situation over and over again and watching her bff be shot dead by a single bullet.

    When her parents finally got her in to see a counsellor, the girl was encouraged to write out the events of that day in as much detail as she could; she was then instructed to read it over and over again until it no longer evoked the tears and anger that it initially did. When she could do this, her therapist then asked her to compose an email for her friend as if she were alive and well; in it, she was to express everything she felt about what had happened at the store: her guilt/sadness/fear/anger/etc. Once she composed and "sent" it, the girl was instructed to write the response that she envisioned that her friend would compose: how would she respond? Would she cast blame on her friend? Would she criticize her friend for her actions/lack thereof?
    Once this task was completed, the girl felt a sense of relief like no other. She was then able to open up to others about the incident and talk freely about the awesomeness of her friend. She began caring for herself - indulging in the manicures and pedicures and deep hair conditioning that she and her friend used to do. Remarkably, the nightmares and the flashbacks never returned.

  7. Claire, I am so delighted and relieved that things are going well for you and your son. You deserve to be happy. I wish you all the best in achieving your goals.

  8. Final revision of Small town insanity" to "Small town Mentality" and still trying to find ways to keep PEI kids from that first use of drugs = ideas, contacts, etc. + Lyric needs music = Collaboration?
    Pg. 1 of 2

    “Globally it's the brand of Small Town Insanity”
    ( The informal Pharmacy )

    All the boys in a row fraternally
    withhold and grant opportunistically.
    Surviving on the “no tell” philosophy
    developing the powers of dependance.
    Selectively affecting the destiny
    while bearing toxic gifts of gratuity.
    Globally it's the brand of small town mentality.

    Look behind the mask of the propriety.
    See through the window of opportunity.
    Around the view promoted politically.
    Past the misuses of history
    to the avoidance of present reality.
    You'll uncover the local gentry.
    Globally it's the brand of small town insanity.

    The gentry laugh unceasingly
    playing the game blatantly
    banking on the prosperity.
    Users take it humorously
    while looking at the hypocrisy
    recognizing the fraternity.
    Their victims aren't always the enemy.

    It has to be dealt with truthfully.
    Know what to look for you will see
    which of the pillars of the community
    hold the keys to the informal pharmacy.
    Living beyond their means materially
    toys for the boys can be costly.
    Globally it's the brand of small town insanity.

    Pg. 2 of 2

    Ironically victims possess the key
    to the powers of the local gentry.
    Votes of disapproval anonymously
    can close the window of opportunity.
    Spoken in united group harmony
    only your truth will set you free.
    Globally it's the brand of small town mentality.

    Strangers don't go away accidentally
    seeking distant equal opportunity
    it's just not their brand of insanity.

    Author: James L. Halstrum ( The Stone Shadow )
    (C) 1991 All rights reserved.
    “Lyric Publication and Promotion”
    P.O.Box 1326 Montague, PEI C0A-1R0
    Phone/FAX: 902-838-2218

    The youth of the world must turn their backs on the informal pharmacy.
    No one is forced into the informal pharmacy it's their own decision
    to give up the self control of their lives and their self respect.
    + all of the collateral damage to self, friends, family, community, etc.
    Make more positive and better choices in your lives.
    NOTE: Especially stay away from MOLLY and Krokodil : look up
    the results of using these 2 drugs, alone.

    File # 3 of 5.

  9. Going back to the very first use / decision is where the answers will be found = what was going on @ that time in ones life? + If people don't own their part in their problems with addiction little can be done to stop the OD deaths of addicts. = Too many OD deaths will continue to be the outcome / sign of the times. Dealers are the only ones who see their victims / addicts as assets - while governments / law enforcements / medical organizations / etc. see them only as liabilities = this must change inorder to save lives.
    + We must do all that we can to insure that every young Islander / kid has a positive drug free life experience now and in their future..This can be done in every community across PEI = Rotary, Lions , Commerce, Churches, Schools, Town Halls, Parents etc. can all take appropriate action, along with the media, TV, News papers, etc. to educate and empower kids so they can say " I KNOW BETTER ". + Parents must be able and willing to say " I KNOW BETTER ". Heplful - I hope..


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