Barbara Jean: Healing and Learning to Live Again

A woman shares her story of recovery from depression and alcohol addiction.

I think I came to the realization that things were just a little different for me than my friends when I was in 6th grade. I am the daughter of two alcoholic parents. At the age of seven I was placed in a foster home in Anchorage, AK. The foster mom was known to us as Aunt Eve, and she saved my life. As much as she loved us, at that time there was such a stigma attached to being a foster child that her love could not overcome. I always felt like the outsider, on the outside looking in.

My life before Aunt Eve was horrific. I lived and witnessed things no child should ever see and experienced physical and sexual abuse. That was life as I knew it. A nightmare. With Aunt Eve I was free to live as a child should and find some happiness.

Of course, I never realized that early trauma would come back to haunt me. I managed to stick to what she taught me into my early 20s. By that time relationships in my life were crumbling. My life became a series of abusive relationships with men and running, hating myself and more running, only to find I'd packed my demons with me.

I plummeted into depression and alcoholism. I took my sister up on an opportunity to come back to Alaska and help her in her business. At the very worst time of my life she stayed by my side. At that time I met a lady who had been in and out of treatment. She mentioned it to me on a couple occasions. What I knew of treatment was minimal. I thought it was for rich people and celebrities. When I became so dependent on alcohol, I ended up in the emergency room on several occasions. The last time my blood pressure was so high they literally ran me in and put me on an IV. I was scared. Scared to die. Scared to live.

The hospital put me in touch with a treatment center where I went and spent 17 days in detox. Eventually I was accepted into a 6 month program. The minute I walked through those doors my life changed forever. I found acceptance like I'd never known in my life. I healed and learned to live again. Was it easy? Heck no! It was painful and hard. I could not have gotten through it without the help of so many knowledgeable people there and people who knew what I was going through. I got into the Welcome Home program and ultimately ended up going to Washington DC to share my story at a conference.

I've been sober seven years now. What I know is this: I had to find something beautiful in this life and hang on for all I was worth. I am forever grateful to those who stayed by my side and continue with me on this amazing journey.

Never, ever give up! Scream and cry if you have to. But don't give up! It's so worth it!

Last Updated: 04/25/2017