What’s Your Passion?

Ohio

Kristi Lynn

SFYB Author/Writer

Being from a very small rural area in Ohio, it is commonplace for all that you do to be under the microscopic view of the general public that surrounds you. Many talk in their hushed circles. Many speak from the aspect of their own stories and cast judgment due to personal reference. Many also participate in these conversations for the simple task of keeping the gossip mill running, full throttle.

Keep in mind, I’m neither an active addict nor am I an addict in active recovery. I’m just a person. A girl who has grown into adulthood understanding that no matter what path I’ve chosen, and will choose, it is, has been, and always will be under constant scrutiny.

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I’ve spent my life on the defense; defense of myself or of others. Not all of my paths have been the best ones I could’ve taken. However, the one aspect of myself that I have found to be consistent is that of standing my ground, and I do it well; even when shunned by the majority of those that surround me. I’m stubborn. But I’m passionately stubborn. It takes a wild soul to stand apart from the crowd. It takes an innately driven spirit to be comfortable enough with one’s self to be able to speak differently than what is considered to be the norm. It also takes many years of experience. I didn’t become this person overnight.

To those that know me, well or otherwise, it is not secret that I have suffered from depression my entire life. I chose to share this information a few years ago on social media. Some didn’t know or expect that I was affected by this; others knew and have watched me battle from the sidelines. But this battle has been a very hard one. Not always uphill, but extremely inclined when it was. I have spent many years learning to understand myself as well as aggressively despising those that didn’t understand a damn word that came out of my mouth.

As I drifted through my teenage years into my twenties, from high school and into college, I drank. I drank often. There was rarely an evening that I didn’t; there was hardly an occasion that didn’t call for it. I drank socially and I drank alone. I say I’m not an addict because I never needed it. My body didn’t physically depend on it. I liked who I became while drinking because I was brave. I also wrote, and I wrote often. My depression became the part I wanted because it was the part that brought me poetry. While in college, I may not have attended my classes all week and chose to remain on my couch during daylight, by nightfall alcohol fueled me. Slowly, I became sad more often. Not only did I carry the emptiness and uncertainty of myself and life, but it saddened me so much that I cried. I cried often and I cried a lot.

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It was also during college that I discovered free writing. I wrote on the bad days, and I began re-reading what I wrote on the good days. Little did I know that this would be the start of my own evolution. In time, I started to see my weaknesses, I even laughed at times, at my words, my moods. Let alone having been called crazy by others when drinking, I began calling myself crazy when sober. It made me realize that I needed to change. The only question I had: Who was I?

I had no idea. I couldn’t answer it. I had no idea about the person I wanted to be because not only was I too busy worrying about how the world saw me but I hated the way the world made me feel. I began hating my depression. I hated this person living in sadness. I envied all of the faces that passed by me, wondering if they suffered, too. I started wondering if medication was something I should consider. Since I had been determined to overcome depression on my own, I saw relying on medicine to fix me as weakness. However, what I didn’t realize was drinking was a vice to mask it. Drinking or not, I was complacent inside, and I needed to find myself. In the same breath, the writer was the role I loved. But the writer existed because of my depression. It was as if the depression had given me a split personality, and as much as I hated her, I still couldn’t imagine my life without her; that girl that lived inside of me. The change wasn’t easy. But it happened. Today, I’m medicated. I’m functioning better than before, and for more days in a row. I still have hard days, and I always will. But my own struggle has helped me to understand more about myself than I ever would have known otherwise. I’ve seen the dark and I’m not afraid to live in the light now. Oh, and I’m still a writer. I’m now in my next to last semester in graduate school – that is, if I can survive it.

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Through the years, I’ve suffered from a mentality of never being good enough. I’ve also learned that I have no idea whose standards of good enough I was trying to meet. Depression is a tricky beast. Yet, I had learned enough that I could eventually see my own triggers and work through the periods it wreaked havoc on me. Perhaps that’s why I started advocating for those suffering from addiction. Perhaps I have personal reasons close to my heart which propelled me. Either way, it’s a part of me now.

I have watched for decades as friends and acquaintances since childhood have battled with their addictions. Some have since quit in their own ways, some have been in and out of the legal system, and some are still using. The reasons for being an advocate I have concluded, are this: I live in an area that is heavily affected by the present epidemic. I live in an area where judgment is passed easier than the air that is breathed. As a human being, I am very aware that every day isn’t easy and every decision is not always right. As a lifetime member of my community, I also know that when you and others mess up, those mishaps are never forgotten. Ever. They hang over you like a bad aroma and noses turn up in your presence. If aura’s could be seen, the mistake itself would be the noticeable color. The conversations persist regardless of changes made in the positive, and the ‘I told you so’s’ fly freely, especially if another mistake happens thereafter.

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I also know that along with my depression, came an intense compassion for mankind. In my most recent decision to become involved as an advocate, I’m not afraid to declare it on social media. I’m bold and brave and I say it all. I say so much that I’ve begun being shunned by family members, by friends, and by faces I don’t even know. Yet surprisingly, I don’t care. I don’t care because I have found my passion. In all reasons stated and all reasons not stated, I have found something that I strongly believe in. Living in a rural area, I have found the urge to stand up to all of the people that are clinging to a century old belief that addicts are worthless. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing it. I’ve known some great souls that sit on the judged side, and I realize that they can’t even be seen by others beyond their labels. They never have been seen. I can’t help but wonder why someone would choose to not socialize with another person just because of a label that another someone else gave them. The school district I reside in teaches my son and all of its students to stand up to bullying, every day; but the adults are doing it every day. It doesn’t seem right and it’s not. I know how it feels to be judged and I believe that’s all it takes for compassion. I have had a circle of friends canvasing all walks of life. I believe that every person I’ve encountered, whether I still associate with them daily, or not at all anymore, has some small part in helping me to become the person that I am.

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I am appreciative of my bad days for showing me my good days. I have learned by watching and listening that remaining quiet during times that I should’ve spoken up have left me regretting my own silence. I have missed out on happiness because of other people’s opinions. I’ve missed out on being myself for the same reason. I’ve adjusted and became, time and again, and I was miserable. But today, I’ve finally evolved into the only person I can be, and I’m okay with that. There are people hindered from becoming because the rest of the world tells them they can’t. It’s sad, and it makes me sad to have watched it happen time and time again; I know how it feels being the person stuck in the same exact cycle, over and over. I know how destructive self-doubt can be, and I know how it feels to be trapped in the doubt of the world that surrounds you.

I have found solace in representing a population that remain stuck in their own evolution. I have a voice that can be heard and I’m sharing. While there are people that resent me, there are people quietly thanking me. While some call it crazy, I call it balance. While other people spend their time judging, I spend my time helping. And it feels awesome. Nothing good has come from the inability to promote growth, on any level. From the place inside of me that was once so overridden with depression I couldn’t function, to becoming someone positive, I hold true to my own belief that if I can change, anyone can change. The only question I have now is: Who’s going to stop me?

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Kristi Lynn
I graduated from Kent State University in 2009 with a Bachelors degree in English. I will soon graduate from Tiffin University with a Masters degree of Humanities in Creative Writing. Obtaining a graduate degree was a personal goal of my own.

I came into the recovery community with open eyes and a naive mind. I began researching addiction and rehabilitation on my own accord. In a matter of months and through involvement online, I found that helping others is what I am meant to do and is what I am meant to be doing.

I am from a very small community, surrounded by many other small communities, in rural Ohio. Geographically nested in low populations, I have found the stigmas surrounding not only addiction and addicts, but also of the family and friends of those suffering, to be trying and difficult for those considered to be cast out of the social spectrum.

With my own initiative and perseverance, and also as a non-addict, I have prevailed at educating myself, which in turn has allowed me to educate those around me. Not only am I outspoken with many I have known throughout my entire existence, but I have found myself widely accepted and well known in the online community.

With the connections I have made, as well as the social marketing work I have accomplished, I am able to spread the message of hope, alone or with others, as I am determined to go beyond all boundaries that remain intact, not only with addiction, but with the close-minded mentality as well.

I am in the process of obtaining Peer Recovery Advocate certification through the state of Ohio. Once this is final, I will then move into learning SMART Recovery and will undergo the education necessary to facilitate meetings. While I may not be included through the mandated guidelines within the NA community, I can achieve the skills necessary to continue to assist and educate those around me.

Regardless of the individual process for each person, I am adamant in the belief that nothing changes if nothing changes. Instead of sitting back with hands tied while those around me suffer, I will put my thoughts and heart into action by doing all that is within me to be of better service for my community.

As a Mother, I am determined to raise a son with a mind that is open to accepting possibility. I am driven to make sure the needs of his physical, mental, and spiritual well-being are met. Not only this, but if at any point in his lifetime he finds he needs resources or tools to bring about positive changes in his own life, that he will have every avenue open and the means necessary will be within reach.

I do not feel society as a whole, or as a portion, holds the right to judge another or to deny anyone of growing and becoming the best person he or she can become. Society should have no bearing over deciding who will succeed and who will not. In a world where anything is possible, those stuck in the grasps of addiction deserve to have more than enough resources to promote a positive change. Rather than there to continue exist a lack of resources, we all deserve more than enough resources to help ourselves and each other become the best that we can become.

Norms are meant for the weak minded and are unfortunately accepted by the masses. I am strong willed and I will not stop this journey until I can reflect contently upon all of the correct changes having been brought about. Every addict is suffering, in many ways, and on many levels. Each addict is someone's mother, father, sister, brother, son, or daughter. An addict is someone. What has happened before remains in the past, and the present is the here and now. There is no future for those accepting a dismal fate. What is suffered from addiction is that which can be temporary. Given the educational tools and the correct resources anyone is capable of change. Nothing is permanent in this life until death, and everyone deserves to live life to their fullest abilities while living.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

I am an addiction advocate. I'm a voice for many and that isn't stopping for anyone.
Kristi Lynn on sabemail

Filed under: Inspirational