When I was 16, I hit the party scene pretty hard. I was sneaking around, drinking, and experimenting with drugs.
As I got older, I started going to concerts and music festivals to do the same thing. One time, at an outdoor show, I took a mixture of substances that made me so paranoid I felt like someone was chasing after me.
During the middle of the set, my friend and I took off running and drove 45 minutes home in the middle of the night. We had nobody to turn to for help — my parents had no idea where I was or what I was doing. It would’ve taken just one more drink or one more hit to throw me off the deep end.
My relationships suffered because I wasn’t taking care of myself. Sometimes when I drank I'd get belligerent and pick fights with my boyfriend over nothing.
After getting caught partying as a minor a few too many times, I got kicked off my high school swim team. I pretended I didn’t care at the time, but deep down I felt like a complete failure.
I went to a small school so everyone knew what had happened. The other swimmers barely talked to me and my coach gave me that distinct “I’m disappointed in you look” every time I passed him in the hallways. Rumors spread and the joke was on me — I suddenly had even more time on my hands to drown out my feelings with drugs and alcohol.