My Name is Caitlin Propheter. This is My Story.

September 2017. Clean. Free. Happy.

I grew up in a military family that was very Christian. We went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. My parents were the youth leaders at our church so I was very involved with youth conferences and choir and other activities that were centered around God. When I was 14, I was baptized.

The summer before I turned 16, a friend asked me to go to a party with her so I asked my brother to take us. He stayed for a while then left us there. This was the first time I ever drank alcohol. I sat my drink down and told my friend I needed to use the bathroom and she showed me where it was and we laughed and giggled because of course we are drunk. After we got out of the bathroom, I picked my drink up, chugged it and about an hour after I felt weird, and needed to lie down, so I went to an empty room to lay down. After I shut the door, I passed out.

The next thing I know I’m being woke up by three guys standing over me, one begins to touch me and held me down while the other two began taking my clothes off. I fought so hard and I kicked and tried to scream until one of the guys punched me in the face multiple times and knocked me unconscious. When I came to, they were holding me down, raping me over and over again. I started screaming again and the same guy hit me so hard that last time I was completely knocked out. I woke up in the closet, naked and bleeding with bruises all over my body. The dresser was in front of the door and the window was open. I called my brother to come pick me up. When he asked what happened, I just told him I got in a fight and he believed me. We never spoke about that night again.

When I was 18 I was dating a guy that told me he had an STD and that I needed to be checked (I was clean, so he cheated on me). That day when he told me, I knew I had to tell my mom what really happened. I remember walking into work crying and the woman said to me “Why are you crying? It can’t be that bad.” But little did she know that my youth and my virginity were stolen from me.

I suffered from depression for many years before I told my mom. I started to self-harm and developed an eating disorder.

When I was 19 I met my ex fiancé and at the time he was the best thing that ever happened to me but little did I know, he would steal even more from me. In 2011, we moved in with each other and that is when the drug use and the domestic violence started. One night he came home with Crack and I tried it. I wanted more and more and so did he. He used to beat me every single day. He made me call my mom one day and tell her she was the reason I was raped which hurt me to the core because I know she had nothing to do with it.

At this point in my life I was mad at God, I wanted nothing to do with Him. Why would He do this to me? Why me?

The drug use progressed to acid, ecstasy, and shrooms.

In August of 2011 I found out I was pregnant, so I stopped doing the drugs and the drinking. However, my ex did not and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia around this time as well. In March of 2012, I came home from work and he did not have his drugs so an argument started. He pushed me to the floor, hitting me repeatedly in the face and in the stomach with a crowbar. He grabbed a box cutter. That is when I got up, and tried to run. He slashed my arm 8 times. All I was worried about was my sweet baby boy Brantley Ray. I stumbled going out of the front door and fell on the ground and that is when I heard a gunshot. I tried to get up and run again but realized he had shot me in the back and I blacked out. I woke up in the hospital being told that my son did not make it through all the trauma. That day I lost my life, I lost my son, I lost myself, and I had no reason to live.

So the drugs were calling me back. I dabbled with crack here and there; but I eventually got clean.

In August of 2013, I was riding with a boyfriend to go ride four-wheelers when he ran off the road, over corrected and we flipped 5 times. I was thrown from the closed passenger side window and landed in a ditch full of water and mud. When I looked up I saw the truck flipping and it landed on top of me. I walked away from that wreck with broken ribs, a broken arm, and a bruised spine.

God was with me and He was with me through everything else.

October 2014, I met a girl named Audrey. We were friends on the internet so I invited her over for Halloween and that is when she introduced me to heroin. She talked about how amazing it was to be shot up with it…so I tried it. It was off to the races. I needed it every single day, 7 times a day. I shot up almost 2 grams of heroin a day along with crack.

In Active Use

I stole, I lied, and I manipulated people who loved me. My mom said she planned my funeral every day on her way to work. My dad disowned me.

One night I found myself lying on my bathroom floor surrounded by needles, spoons, a razor from a box cutter and a lot of dope. The enemy said kill yourself. So that is what I tried to do. My mom knew what I was doing and she sat outside the bathroom door begging God not to take me while I begged Him to take me.

July 10, 2015 Headed to Chicago for Recovery Treatment

July 10, 2015 I boarded a plane to Chicago to a faith based treatment center. I returned home October 30, 2015 sober I had almost 2 years clean!!! Longest I have ever been clean before! I was living for the Lord, serving Him, doing tent ministries, revivals, bible studies!

Then I rekindled an old flame. I got pregnant in September of 2016. I miscarried in October 2016. I immediately relapsed with my boyfriend at the time. However, this time no one knew, and I could not stop! I needed help again so I got on Suboxone in January of this year, and I have been clean since and now I am even off Suboxone.

Me at Two Months Clean

I started serving God again and living a beautiful life of happiness. Then God said okay, you’ve been through enough pain and suffering, here’s a man that’s going to value you and respect you and love you. He sent me the love of my life, who is also in recovery for alcohol.

I have learned that no matter what happens in life; never take your eyes off the Lord. If you have too much pride in your life and in yourself, God will break you to the core to remind you what you have and what He has brought you through!

NEVER EVER GIVE UP❤

When Women Won’t Talk: Prescription Pills and The Sound of Silence

 

Over the last three years of my sobriety, I have grown accustomed to talking. Telling my story. Sharing all of me; the dark and the light. But, in a case like mine, this isn’t the usual story. We might have a safe space in a church basement, among friends who understand the beauty of destruction, but where is this safe space in the world?

I am one of the millions of women in this country who will abuse prescription pills. Pills prescribed by a doctor, with no intent to get out of control or cause chaos. In fact, abusing substances didn’t seem to be in my make-up or my biology. It was dangerous and I knew it. I have a history of alcoholism in my family. My solution to this was to not drink. I even wrote poems about the destruction it took on my family, watching my grandmother pass out and fall over continually as a child was enough to turn me away from alcohol for life. I wrote poems about spitting in red wine, because I wanted to be nothing like her, not even compared to her. I didn’t want addiction to enter my bones. Yet, it did and it has. 

In trying to pull statistics for this piece, it’s been difficult. Research is limited. There are a number of articles on prescription pill addiction, but very few focus on women. Women aren’t talking about this epidemic. They aren’t admitting they are struggling. We miss talking about the facts – that over 10,000 women died last year, after overdosing on prescription painkillers.

Yes, women have options. The options set before us are simple. Detox. Treatment. Therapy. 12-Step. Go save your life, but don’t talk about it. Don’t ever admit that you had a problem with prescription pills, because if you do, people will find out. You will lose your job. You won’t be able to teach children. You’ll be judged. You won’t be invited to the playdates. Who is going to trust you with their children? These are thoughts that enter our mind.

And of course, they enter the mind of a woman who abused alcohol. But alcohol abuse is more accepted in this society than prescription pill abuse. Why? One reason is because other women are talking about it. They are writing memoirs, creating blogs, recovery podcasts, going on the record and admitting the truth about a socially acceptable drug that nearly ruined their life.

MY STORY

College graduation, with family. 2004
College graduation, with family. 2004

When I first began abusing prescription pills, I was twenty-two years old. At 22 years old, I was a graduate student at Pepperdine University, studying for my MBA in Marketing and Global Business. I was surrounded by high-achievers and big-believers. I was one of the youngest students in my class. Most people don’t go directly to business school after college, but I was different. I was confident and I fiercely believed in myself and my abilities.

My stats were this: MBA student, graduated college early, Summa Cum Laude, Dean’s List every semester, President of the Media Management & Entertainment Club, Director of Communications for the Student Government, loved unconditionally by my family, and friend to all. I was ambitious and fierce AF. Nothing and no one was going to stop me from making my dreams come true.

The abuse began with a small prescription of Vicodin after a minor surgery when I was twenty-one years old. I was studying for the GMAT’s at the time. I was pressuring myself to get into a good graduate school in California. An MBA was my only option. I didn’t create a backup plan, because this was my plan. I was that kind of woman. I remember how the pills relaxed me. They helped me sleep. They made me feel good. And I would never forget that feeling.

Over the years, I would be prescribed more drugs –  some for the severe pain from a car accident, some to help with the withdrawal of quitting pain killers, and others to move me out of a sucidide threat quickly. In a five year time period,  I was prescribed Xanax, Ambien, Adderall, Vicodin, Tramadol, Oxycodone, Tylenol-3, Prozac, Percocet, Valium, and a number of other opiates, anti-depressants and benzodiazepines that I can’t recall.

The first drug I became physically dependent on was Tramadol. We are told Tramadol is non-narcotic and  it’s not addictive. But, I was certainly becoming addicted. It was that summer, after my first year of graduate school, when I started to question what I was doing. Why was I taking this pill? I had been taking a pill a day for over a month, and in my mind, I knew this was wrong. This was not who I was nor who I wanted to represent as a woman. I stopped taking the Tramadol and it wasn’t easy. I had intense stomach pains and the depression from the withdrawal was a darkness I had never experienced in my whole life.

In my second year of graduate school, I went to see a psychiatrist at the school to tell him what was going on. I went because I was depressed, not realizing, the depression was a symptom of the withdrawal from no longer taking the Tramadol. I told him the truth. I told him exactly what I had been doing and I told him I thought I had become addicted to the pills so I quit. He sent me off with a prescription for Xanax, Ambien, and an anti-depressant. He suggested therapy and I went once or twice, but I wasn’t that concerned. I quit. I was going to move on. This “issue” was over.

And the “issue” was over, for a few years. I graduated from my MBA program. I was in a number of leadership roles at school. I spoke at our graduation ceremonies. I had landed a job at a prominent cable network. I had my own office and I was making nearly six figures and I was twenty-three years old, leading a life, most people dream about.

Speaking at my graduation ceremonies from Pepperdine
Speaking at my graduation ceremonies from Pepperdine

However, something was still off. I had just landed the job of my dreams. The exact job I moved to California to obtain, yet, I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was a hard-worker so the job came easy. I started thinking I deserved more. I had nearly everything a woman could want at my age, yet *I* deserved more. I was becoming more narcissistic as the days passed and as I continually exceeded every goal placed in front of me, arrogance came easy.

The story can move into physical and verbal abuse, the loss of an engagement, and it can move through failure in my career, severe depression, and a car accident at twenty-five years old. But, the story of my addiction truly began when I was prescribed Adderall at twenty-six years old. I wasn’t prescribed Adderall because I had ADD. I was prescribed Adderall by the same psychiatrist who sent me off with Xanax and Ambien, four years before, after I told him that I was worried I had become addicted to prescription pain pills. This doctor didn’t even ask to see me. I called him after I lost a very important opportunity in my career. I told him I wanted to die and he said, don’t worry, I have the answer. And Adderall, was his answer. And soon, it became mine too. 

This is how the story of a powerful, educated, intelligent, ambitious, and loved woman, nearly died, begins. This is the true beginning of a five-year cycle of abuse that left me broken, scared, and terrified of how to even live life.

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

This is my story. And we might hear similar stories in 12-step rooms. But, there are millions of women who have no interest in attending a 12-step meeting. They don’t want to be told they are powerless and inherently selfish. They don’t want to take an inventory of all their faults and defects. And they certainly don’t want to say: “I am an addict” because the truth, as my friend Holly Whitaker says, is that addiction is an experience, not an identity.

We don’t think of the vice president of sales of a major brand as an addict and we don’t want to look at them in that way either. We all know there is a stigma attached to addiction. And professional, well-educated women with families and careers, well they want nothing to do with that stereotype, and I get it. Because, the stereotype is false, and it’s no longer our story.

Our story is that we had no idea that the drugs the doctors were prescribing to us would cause us to become addicted. We had no idea that interventions and rearrangements would be made in our name. That we would have to leave our jobs and our families in order to receive the help we need. We didn’t plan for this. And the plan for saving us is fucked up and flawed. It really is.

Today, I vow to talk about this more. I vow to tell my story so you can tell yours. When you Google my name, you are taken to a number of different articles, and publications, and videos, and social media posts about my addiction and my sobriety.  You’ll find my blog – which goes into intimate detail about my addiction. Or you will find an article I wrote for the Huffington Post called “Don’t Call Me An Addict: I Don’t Live There Anymore.” In searching further, you will be taken to YouTube videos of me, discussing my addiction and my sobriety, and choosing to use my voice, because I choose helping others over enabling my ego.

In being public about my addiction, I have given up the opportunity to land many professional jobs. This is the simple truth. I have released control of how the men who search my name on online dating sites feel about me and why they let me go because they don’t want to date a woman who has been addicted. My name, according to Google, is no longer associated with my MBA, or my career, or even my address on Spokeo – my name is associated with addiction and recovery. And to be honest, I couldn’t be more proud.

TELL THE TRUTH

I have chosen this life. I have chosen this life because we are far more than what is currently represented. We are magic-makers and light workers, and we are mothers, and daughters, and sisters, and teachers. We are nurses and business development managers and founders, and we are lovers.  We are your neighbor. We are every woman you’ve ever known. This is us. This is our story.

We are not our labels. Our recovery should empower us. And we should know that when we tell our stories, the whole world heals. But, we are told we can’t tell our stories. That we shouldn’t tell our stories. We don’t say we are in recovery on our social media pages. If we post any truth about our struggles, our sisters and our friends call us and ask if we are sure we want to talk about “that.” Because “that?No, We are not supposed to talk about that.

This is the sound of silence and it is KILLING us. The negative effects of drugs strike women harder and faster than men. They do more damage to our bodies and they eat away at our insides far quicker than they do in men. Women are more likely to be prescribed painkillers and for a much longer period of time. According to an article written in The Huffington Post, women are 50 percent more likely than men to leave their doctor’s office with a prescription, even if they have the same condition.

In the addiction treatment world, it is well known that women are slower to get help and ask for help. The top reason women are deferred from treatment is because of shame and stigma. Women are expected to be mothers to their children and they are told to never leave their jobs or their families. They are in constant fear of admitting their problem. We are told “good” women don’t get addicted.

But that’s not the truth. Nothing can change the truth. The truth is the truth.

I know there are women who are hurting. They are alone and they are in constant fear of admitting they have a problem. We are told the truth sets us free and then we are told, but darling, there are some truths we just don’t talk about.

There is a lot, in this current world, that is fucked up and flawed. There is stigma and there is shame and there are societal expectations that minimize women and tell us to stay small. I won’t stay small. And I won’t stay quiet. The sound of silence is killing us. And I’m going to keep talking. Until it ends. Or until I end.

“But, I suppose the most revolutionary act one can engage in is…to tell the truth.”
― Howard Zinn