When I was young it was difficult living with my mother and not understanding what if anything was wrong with her. Today, I understand my mom was sick from her mental illness and unresolved abuse, as well as losing her mother when she was 10. Back then, I just felt she didn’t love me. I became pregnant at 18 and it caused a separation between me and my parents. I dropped out of college and got married because I felt I had to, but I didn’t want to be married and didn’t know how to be a mother. I had problems with my son’s birth requiring an emergency c-section and that was my first introduction to opiates.

When my son was 2 years old, I went back to college but had to work and sometimes was the only one working. I made it into nursing school, but in my last semester, I had my clinical rotation in the ER and the next patient being brought in was to be mine. It was my father and he was having a heart attack. He was shipped to St. Vincent’s and had 4 by-passes. I almost dropped out, but my nursing instructor encouraged me and I graduated with my nursing degree in 1995.

With my first job, I began a path of destruction using street drugs, opiates, and eventually alcohol and crystal meth.

I entered my first detox in 1997 and by 2002 was divorced, my parents were raising my son, my nursing license was suspended, and I was arrested for 21 felonies. I entered treatment and detox too many times to count. I became pregnant again in 2002 and did what I said I would never do, and that was use drugs while I was pregnant. My baby was protected by God and born healthy, but DFCS opened a case to protect my newborn. I continued to use and was admitted to Unison’s Garden Gate residential women’s program. I remained drug free for almost three years, but relapsed after I found out my mom had end stage emphysema. I became someone I couldn’t recognize and used until after my mother died. I couldn’t remember her funeral and after going to jail again, I was released to go to treatment in 2007. I finally got sober on July, 11th 2007. My last difficult challenge was getting my license back. I was placed on a consent order by the Board of Nursing. After several years of supervision and education, I completed requirements and all restrictions and sanctions on my license have been lifted. Today I work as a nurse and certified addiction counselor at Garden Gate one on one with others who struggle with addiction. I absolutely love it. I am grateful for all the help I was given at Unison, especially the St. Illa CSU. No matter how many times I relapsed, St Illa would give me a chance in hopes I could get myself together. Most of all, Garden Gate made a powerful impact on my life. The staff believed in me, allowing opportunities for me to move forward with the career I have. I used to believe I wasn’t capable of persevering but today I know I can. Today I can give back what was freely given to me.


Former participant and now a registered nurse helping others find recovery at the Garden Gate Residential Treatment Center

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