My Name Is Hannah, And I’m An Addict.

Warning: this is going to be a long one.

Here’s the post most of you have probably been waiting for: my personal addiction story. This post is going to be emotional.  It’s going to be raw. It’s going to put me in the most vulnerable position I’ve ever been put in.  Parts of it are going to be really hard for some of you to read, and parts of it are going to be really hard for me to write.  For some, you will think that I’m over sharing. And maybe I am.  But for me, I know this post will help someone out there who is struggling, so I’m okay with it. Before I start I need you to know this: I am okay.

Let’s start from the beginning.  It was September of 2017 and I had just returned from studying abroad in Paris, France.  As many of you already know from my post “My Best Friend Died,” my best friend, Cali, died as a result of addiction while I was studying abroad.  I came home to a disaster zone.  I numbly sat through her funeral, and as the days passed I became angry and consumed by grief.  It was that same month that I had my first encounter with drugs.  It was then that my life changed forever.

I am very open about my journey with addiction on social media, however, one thing I have not shared is what I was addicted to.  One line of cocaine.  That’s all it took and I was immersed into the world of addiction.  It quickly turned into an everyday thing. It consumed me.  It was all I thought about 24/7. Before I knew it cocaine wasn’t enough.  I then turned to the one drug that I swore I would never do, the drug that robbed me of my best friend: heroin. Next thing I knew I was sticking a needle in my arm searching for a couple of minutes of relief from all the pain I was feeling.  Before I could stop myself I had quit my job, watched all my friends slowly disappear, and had pushed my family away.  I had spent my entire life savings, and was struggling to financially support myself.  For eight months I hid my addiction from everybody.  Not a single person knew, and I had every intention of keeping it that way.

Why heroin? Why the drug that stole my best friend’s life? Why risk it?  I wanted to experience it one time.  One time.  I wanted to feel what she felt and see why she loved this drug so much.  But when you take even just a single shot of heroin all of a sudden you have this new need.  All of a sudden you’re lacking this something, but you don’t know what it is or how to fix it.  You’re out to dinner with friends, you’re having a good time.  Still lacking.  It’s Christmas morning and you’re the happiest you’ve been in a long time.  Still lacking.  You fall asleep in the arms of the person of your dreams.  Still lacking. There’s a part of you missing.  I wanted to experience shooting heroin one time, and now I’ll be walking around for the rest of my life with a loose-end that can never, ever be tied up.  All because of one time that turned into another time, and another time, and another time.

It wasn’t until May that I finally decided to get clean.  I had been clean for two weeks and then I broke down and decided to use again.  I was home alone, with the exception of my step dad who was working from his office.  I went upstairs and shot up, then headed back downstairs to continue folding laundry as if my life was normal.  I felt the initial rush, and then all of a sudden my body started shutting down.  I was freezing, I was shaking so badly that I couldn’t call for help, my jaw locked shut so I couldn’t talk, and my head felt like it was going to explode.  I pretty much accepted that was how I was going to die, laid down in front of the fireplace, and waited for someone to find me. Bill came into the house and through tears and a locked jaw all I could mutter was, “I’m addicted to heroin.”  Words that changed my life, and my families lives, forever.  He helped me into the car and drove me straight to the hospital, pulling over so I could throw up in a church parking lot (pretty ironic, right?). We arrived after what seemed like the longest drive of probably both of our lives, and they immediately took me back. The judgement and shame that I felt was almost unbearable.  My entire life I have been the “good Christian girl” who was shy, sweet, respectful, and never got in trouble.  And suddenly I was being seen for a me that I didn’t recognize.  I was being seen as an addict, as inadequate, and as less than.

My four-hour stay in the emergency room is honestly one giant blur.  I remember my mom, who had no idea that I was using, coming into my hospital room in tears.  I remember her hovering over my bed.  I remember getting angry and kicking my parents out of my room, as if any of it was their fault.  I remember telling my ER nurse, “This isn’t me. I’m a good person,” and I remember the look on her face as she was thinking, “Yeah, right.”  I remember calling my therapist in tears hoping that she would answer the phone, hoping that she could somehow solve all my problems in that instant, hoping that she would show up at the hospital and just sit with me.  I remember thinking about how I would have to tell the rest of my family, and how embarrassed I was.  I remember being so mad at myself.  I was mad that I had used, I was mad that everyone was finding out, I was mad that my life had gotten to that point.   But, anger aside, I was relieved.  Relieved because I didn’t have to fight by myself anymore. Relieved because I was finally going to be able to get the help that I needed, the help that I deserved.

After a couple of hours in the ER they admitted me with cotton fever, an infection you get from the piece of cotton you use to filter when using IV drugs.  They kept me in the hospital for a day and a half to give me antibiotics and monitor me as I detoxed. Longest day and a half of my life.  My room had a camera in it incase I went into seizures from withdrawals, they removed all the sharp objects, and I had a nurse checking on me every 15 minutes.  I had never felt more ashamed of myself. But it was also at that time that I realized just how much support I had.  I had so many friends showing up to remind me how much they loved me.  Two nurses who had treated my step grandma a couple of weeks before even showed up in my room to tell me I had their support.  I remember feeling so valued by these people because they were choosing to view me as a person first, and an addict second.  I spent my time there walking countless laps around my floor because I refused to just sit in my room, it was making my anxiety skyrocket.  As I waited for my social worker to find a rehab  center for me to go to I remember being scared shitless.  I remember being so filled with anxiety that I was physically sick.  And then we got the call.  The call that changed me forever, “Fairfax will take you.”  Rehab. Finally.

My parents picked me up, with a suitcase of my belongings, and drove me to Kirkland where I would spend time at Fairfax Behavioral Health Hospital.  We were sitting in the waiting room waiting to be called back and I felt numb.  I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t anxious.  I wasn’t angry.  I was just numb.  Suddenly it was my turn.  The first thing that was said to me there was, “You do not look like an addict. Let’s get you help before you do.”  I said goodbye to my parents and a nurse took me back to the detox unit.  It was then that all the feelings I had been numbing myself to rushed back to me.  Tears, tears, and more tears. I was greeted by the sweetest nurse, Cassie, who changed my life for the better.  From that moment on she was my person. I was sitting in the hallway, still in my hospital gown, still crying, when a younger guy approached me and said, “It actually isn’t so bad here.”  He instantly took me under his wing, becoming not just an acquaintance but a friend.  Evan, if you’re reading this, thank you for everything you did for me.  I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.  My days were filled with group meetings, therapy, one-on-ones, Dr. evaluations, and med checks.  When I wasn’t busy doing any of those things I was sitting in a chair in the hallway across from the nurses station, rocking back and forth.  I was a version of me that I had never met before.  I was so anxious the whole time that I refused to eat, losing a total of 14 pounds. My friend, E, came to visit me during visiting hours one day and I remember being so thankful for her.  Being her friend has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.  She made me feel like I wasn’t crazy, like I wasn’t alone, and like I was still valuable.  The day before my 21st birthday was the day I finally got cleared to leave.  Before my favorite nurse, Cassie, left she sat me down and told me that she saw so much potential in me, that she believed in me, and that she knew I would be okay.  She then said something to me that I loved so much I actually got it tattooed on my arm.  She hugged me tightly and said, “Fight for yourself. Always.”  Those words shook me to my core. Since that day I’ve been fighting for myself in every way possible.  Cassie, if this blog somehow reaches you, you saved me.  Thank you.

My parents picked me up and I remember feeling so proud of myself when I saw them. When they dropped me off I was ashamed more than anything, so much so that I couldn’t even look them in the eyes.  Rehab humbled me.  It made me stronger.  It made me a better person.  It made me more empathetic, more understanding, and more aware. It gave me a glimpse at what my future would look like if I kept using. May 28th, 2018 was the day I decided to change my life forever, to start fighting for myself.  And here I am today, still fighting hard.  I wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t for the love and support so many of you have shown me.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for believing in me.

Stay tuned for two more posts on loving an addict and how you can help.

Fight For Yourself.  Always.  

My Best Friend Died, And I’m Stuck Here.

I met Cali Noel Hall in 2014 while attending school at Life Christian Academy.  We instantly clicked and before I knew it we were spending every day together.  Whether it was running at Point Defiance, going to Frisko Freeze, cuddling in bed, sitting in the car, or just simply being in each other’s presence we were always happy, laughing, content, and full of life.

Our senior year Cali moved in with my family for a while, and I’m not kidding when I say every night was a party.  We blew up a queen size air mattress on my bedroom floor, leaving absolutely no room to walk or even open the closet door.  But we didn’t care.  We were just happy because now we were officially more than best friends, we were family.  My family took Cali in without hesitation.  My aunts spoiled her, my grandparents adored her, and my parents made her do chores as if she had been there all along. We were truly soul mates.

I loved every single thing about Cali, but there was one giant piece that she chose to hide from me: addiction.  When Cali and I became friends I had no clue about her past.  I had no clue that addiction was such a big part of her life.  It wasn’t until she was living with my family that I realized that she had a serious problem.  In that moment I had two choices: step away from the friendship or love her harder.  If you know me at all you know that my heart is big, really big.  So suddenly I was thrown into the world of loving an addict, which is no easy task but I’ll talk more about that in a future post.

There’s one question you always have to ask yourself when loving an addict: am I loving them or am I enabling them?  Phone call after phone call, long drive after long drive, rescue after rescue.  Was I loving or enabling?  It was right before graduation that I heard a quote that said, “If an addict is happy with you, you’re probably enabling them.  If an addict is mad at you, you’re probably trying to save their life.”  After graduation I had to sit my best friend in the world down and say the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say, “Cali, I love you but I can’t keep saving you.  You have to learn how to save yourself.” After that conversation I didn’t see Cali for six months.  She moved to Hawaii to start a new life and I moved to Bellingham to go to college.  We still talked constantly, but it was clear our friendship wasn’t the same.  How could it be after a conversation like that?

Fast forward to September of 2017.  I was studying abroad in Paris, France and Cali was still in Hawaii.  I was sitting on the train to Monet’s Garden, surrounded by a whole bunch of strangers, when I got a text that changed my world forever.  It was from a random girl on Facebook and all it said was, “Cali has passed away.  I know you were close with her and wanted to let you know.”  That was it.  No other information.  No reason why.  Nothing.  I texted her mom and asked if it was true and she immediately responded with, “Yes.”  In that moment my world fell apart.  Being as I was surrounded by strangers and a few classmates I hardly knew, I didn’t say anything.  It wasn’t until we were leaving Monet’s Garden nearly six hours later when I finally lost it.   I spent the next two weeks in Paris just trying to make it through each day with a fake smile on my face.

By the time I made it back to Washington the sadness had subsided and anger had taken its place.  I sat through her funeral without shedding a single tear.  I watched my family mourn the loss of our pseudo sister and I felt nothing.  I physically couldn’t mourn and it angered me that that’s how I was.  They say a single thread of hope is a very powerful thing.  For three years I had been holding on to this hope that one day Cali would be okay.  That one day she would get clean.  That one day she would realize that she had this community around her that loved her more than she knew.  That one day I would get my best friend in the world back.  And then that thread of hope snapped.  It broke.  It was gone, vanished.  Occasionally I forget that she’s gone.  I find myself hoping that she’s doing okay, that maybe she’s clean, and that maybe one day she’ll move back and we’ll continue our friendship as sisters.  And then I’m hit with the gut wrenching reality that none of those things will ever happen.  Because addiction stole my best friend.  And now all I have left are memories.  And for a year now that thought has been making me angry.  Angry because I will never make another memory with her.  Angry because she won’t stand by my side at my wedding.  Angry because my future kids will never call her “Auntie Cali.”  Angry because she couldn’t find the strength that we all knew she had to get clean.  Angry because I couldn’t save her.  But even though I am angry I am still grateful.  Grateful because I got to call her my best friend.  I got to call her my soul mate.  I got to call her my sister.  And that’s something that can never be taken away from me, no matter how far apart we are.  And for that I am forever grateful.

Cali taught me what it’s like to feel loved.  She taught me how to genuinely care about people.  She taught me how to laugh, how to dance, how to cry.  She taught me that life is about so much more than addiction, and I want to recover because she didn’t get the chance to.  She showed me just how precious life is.  So now I choose to live everyday in honor of her.  Living life without your best friend is really damn hard.  It’s something I would never wish on anyone.  Something funny happens and she’s the first person I want to laugh with.  Something sad happens and, again, she is the only person I want to talk to.   Sometimes I still find myself typing “soul mate” into my contacts to see if she wants to hangout.  And those things all come along with this physical pain in my chest as I remember that she’s not here, and I am.  But that’s the point – I AM.  I am alive.  I am breathing.  I am recovering.  I am hurting.  But I am okay.

Grief is a bizarre thing.  Sometimes it is all-consuming.   Sometimes it makes it harder to breathe.  Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m drowning.  It’s been a year and I still cry myself to sleep most nights.  I still want to share every memory that pops up on my Facebook.  I still want to talk about her constantly.  But unless everybody else around you is in the same grief journey, they get to be sad for a minute and then move on.  I’m stuck here mourning my best friend while the rest of the world carries on like nothing happened.  People don’t like talking about Cali, I know that.  Whether it’s because they find her death uncomfortable, they are confused by the way she died, or they just simply don’t want to talk about it I see it and I feel it.  Mentioning her name won’t make me sad, it will actually do quite the opposite.  So let’s talk about her.  Let’s remember her.  Let’s raise awareness about addiction and mental health.  Let’s fight for her.


Fight For Yourself.  Always. 

This Is Me, This Is My Story.

I’ve lived a good life.  A really, really good life.  To say I’ve been blessed would be an understatement.  I went to a private school, live in a big house, have traveled tons, studied abroad, have lots of friends, and have a huge family.  But to tell you my life has been all great would be a lie.  I’ve also struggled with crippling anxiety, depression that tried to end my life, an eating disorder, drug addiction, far too much grief, divorce, and so much heartbreak.  But hey, I’m here and I’m living despite it all, right?

Elementary Age:

Let me start from the beginning.  Date: May 29th, 1997.  The day my life began.  Place: Omaha, Nebraska.  The place I would call home for a mere two weeks of my life. My mom, dad, and I then made the journey back to Lakewood, Washington where I’d spend my childhood growing up in a neighborhood full of friends my age, with a big backyard, at a school I loved, and with both sets of grandparents right down the road.  My days as an only child were filled with daily visits with my grandparents, hanging out with my best friend Morgan, and getting loved on by the two greatest parents in the world. June 29th, 2000 was hands down the best day of my life.  That day I gained not only two baby sisters, but best friends.  We had the perfect little family, until suddenly we didn’t.  Somewhere between the ages of 3 and 7 I felt my first real sting of heartbreak.  My parents got divorced, my dad started dating someone new, and it was suddenly just us girls.  I was 8 years old when I remember noticing that I wasn’t like most of the kids around me.  I was quiet, didn’t really like hanging out with anybody my age, and found the seemingly simple tasks to be dauntingly difficult.  Everybody labeled me as “shy,” not knowing that there was really something much deeper going on.  That’s when I heard the word “anxiety” for the first time. I was also 8 years old when my dad and new stepmom, Cheryl, blessed me with a baby brother. Two years later they brought another baby into the world. In 4th grade I was switched from a public school where I was comfortable to a private school where I had never felt more out of place.  For a “normal” kid, that switch may have been a walk in the park, for me, it was earth shattering.  I spent the next two years of elementary school just trying to feel like I fit in.  My mom eventually met the man of her dreams and married him, giving me the big sister I had always wanted.  We moved to Gig Harbor, and life was so good but so different.

Middle School:

Quiet, shy, and full of anxiety: not easy labels for any middle schooler.  I spent the majority of my time trying to fit in.  I started going to youth group on Wednesday’s, forced myself to hangout with people, and even tried out for the cheer squad at my school.  But each day was an internal battle no one knew anything about.  I spent a lot of time at church, trying to find myself through Jesus.  Going back and forth between my mom’s house and my dad’s house left me wondering why my family had to be a part of the divorce world.  I was in middle school, and had so many questions about life already.

High School:

What a blur.  Same school, same friends, same anxiety, same old same old.  High school was the same, but also full of firsts.  My first kiss, my first real relationship, my first sip of alcohol, my first job, my first horrible thought about my body, and my first major sign of depression.  I was still a cheerleader until my anxiety made it too difficult. I attended youth group until my junior year and became quite involved in the church, actually wanting to be there.  My teachers were my closest friends, and they really poured everything they had into me.  My grades were decent, my home life was good, and life seemed to be going pretty well.  Junior year was when shit hit the fan for me.  It’s when I really started hating the way I looked.  It’s when I started eating less, but not enough for anyone to actually notice.  It’s when I was diagnosed with depression.  Everyday was a battle for me.  Then came senior year.  A new girl, Cali, came to my school.  We instantly became best friends.  We spent every single day together, and then she even moved in with my family.  Every night was a party, quite literally.  It was with her that I took my first bong rip, went to my first real party, and experienced first hand what loving an addict was like. She moved out to go to rehab, blamed me, and made my life a living hell.  But she was still my best friend.  A bad breakup with the first guy I ever loved, a best friend who was hurting so badly, trouble at home, anxiety beyond belief, depression, and an unnoticed eating disorder.  I felt trapped in my own body.  It was then, a month before graduation, that I attempted suicide for the first time.  Two deep cuts on my left arm because I thought there was no other way out of the pain I was feeling.  A little time off from life and I was okay.  Don’t get me wrong, high school wasn’t all bad. It was also filled with lots of laughs, vacations, cruises, new family members, and so much more. Sometimes I lose sight of the good stuff, although I try my best not to. Cali and I walked together at graduation and just like that high school was over.  Thank God.


Western Washington University.  The greatest nine months of my life.  I finally felt like I fit in.  My roommate, Emma, was the best roommate I ever could have asked for.  We instantly clicked, and everything seemed to be going perfectly.  Our pseudo roommate and best friend, Katie, made everything hilarious, wild, and an adventure.  I loved my life for the first time in a really long time.  I then got kidney stones (yuck), and after a lot of thought had to move home from college.  Why me? When I was finally happy, why? I spent a couple months doing nothing but pitying myself. I didn’t know what my purpose was anymore.  After being called a “college dropout” one too many times I attended an information session for an Interior Design program at Clover Park Technical College.  I registered that day and started classes a week later.  For the first time in my life I was top of my class and thriving.  The program was hard, don’t get me wrong, but everything seemed to come so naturally to me.  I moved in with my grandma and grandpa so I could be closer to school, and also because they are the two most important people in the world to me and I didn’t want to miss out on a single minute. I landed an internship in Las Vegas, and was having the time of my life.  I was even given the opportunity to study abroad in Paris a year into my program.  My first thought was, “hell no.” Then I brought up the idea to my Omi, and without question that next September I was on my way to Paris.  Little did I know that I would have to say my final goodbye to her the day before I flew out, her passing away a week into my trip.  This trip was the greatest experience of my entire life.  I fell in love with the city, people, and food of Paris.  It was also the hardest trip of my entire life.  On my third day there I got a message and all it read was, “Hey, Cali died and I thought you would want to know.”  My best friend in the entire world, gone from addiction, just like that.  And that is where my journey with grief began.  I came back from Paris, sat through both my best friend and my Omi’s funerals, and felt so lost.  Upon returning was when I had my first personal encounter with drugs. A one time thing quickly turned into an addiction.  My life was spiraling out of control.  I wanted to give up so badly on school as I could not quite seem to get my head out of the dark cloud it was in.  But I powered through with the help of my friends and teachers, and finished Design school this past March.  Life is full of surprises, roll with them.

Post College:

Life since finishing school has been nothing short of crazy.  My life quickly became consumed by drugs.  Using became a daily thing, the only thing that seemed to numb all my pain.  I quit my job, lost all my friends, stopped going to church, and was struggling to get through each day.  February rolled around and I lost the most important man in the world to me, my grandpa.  I spiraled after that.  I was numb to the world, losing my best friend, Omi, and Grandpa all within a few months of each other.  Everything got so bad that I attempted suicide a second time, landing me at St. Joseph Hospital.  Life was hard.  So unbelievably hard.  Then it got okay for a little bit.  Then it got bad again.  I had zero intention of telling anyone about my addiction, until it was almost to late.  It was May and I found myself laying on my living room floor unable to move, freezing, and shaking uncontrollably.  I pretty much just accepted that that was how I was going to die, laid down in front of the fireplace, and waited for somebody to find me.  My stepdad, who works from home, finally came into the house.  Through tears and a locked jaw all I could mutter was, “I’m addicted to (insert drug name discussed in a later post here).” Words that would change my life, and my families lives, forever.  He took me to the hospital where they quickly admitted me and diagnosed me with cotton fever. I stayed two days and was then given two options: go home or go to rehab.  Neither sounded good, but home sounded worse at the time.  I was admitted to Fairfax Behavioral Health’s detox unit and didn’t get out until the day before my 21st birthday. My world was crumbling. I was forced (kind of) into going to therapy and seeing a psychiatrist, who put me on all sorts of medications. My therapist is my new favorite person (hi, E, thanks for making my life so much better), and I see her twice a week willingly. I must admit sometimes it makes me sad that she is my therapist because I really just want her to be my friend. I have now been clean 153 days, and I have never been more proud of myself.  I started dating an amazing guy, and although we didn’t work out he is still one of my closest friends.  I’ve made tons of new friends (special shoutout to you, H, thanks for reading. You’ve made my life better than I’ve ever imagined. Thanks for being you, and for letting me be me). I even got a job as a waitress/bartender that I LOVE. Life is good.  And then it’s hard.  And then it’s good again.  Hold on, pain ends.

This is my crazy life, welcome to it.

Let’s Start Here.

Before I introduce myself let me start with this: YOU matter.  YOU are needed in this world.  YOU are worth the fight.  YOU are enough.

Hi, I’m Hannah.  I’m 21 years old and I currently live in beautiful Gig Harbor, Washington.  I studied abroad in Paris, interned in Las Vegas, and recently finished Interior Design school.  I’m a fashion enthusiast and coffee obsessed. I’m a deep feeler and a big lover.   And most importantly I feel like I’ve been placed in this world to advocate for those who are struggling, because for most of my life I’ve been struggling, too.

I’m starting this blog for two reasons: me, and you.  I’m starting it for me as an outlet.  A place to share my thoughts, a place to share my struggles, a place to share my experiences, and a place to share my hopes and dreams. I’m starting it for you as a safe place.  A place where you won’t feel alone, a place where you can come when you’re struggling, and a place to make you more familiar with the world of mental health and addiction.

So here’s to this new journey.  Let’s do it together.


Fight For Yourself.  Always.