Nate’s Story: “There’s no progress without mistakes” (One Year Clean)

A year ago, Nate realized that if he continued on the self-destructive path he was on, he would not live to see his 18th birthday. Today at Why Not, we celebrate that Nate has been clean for one year from Xanax, and that he is taking steps to improve his mental health and to learn to extend and seek forgiveness.  This is his story. 

“A year ago, before everything happened, I was in a hole.  I was losing my relationship with my mom and my brothers.  I already had mental illness and I was coping with that.

The Xanax journey was one of the biggest and the hardest journeys. The first year I used Xanax I used them on and off, but when I was on them, I was on them hard.  I would use 4, 5, 6 bars, then stop a couple of days and cool down.  Then I would do it again.  Finally I was able to stop, maybe a few months.

Then summer hit and things got insane and piled up. My older brother moved out, I lost my younger brother, I was on my own.  I’ve always dealt with addictions my whole life.

I looked at myself and Xanax was the only thing that could help.  I put my faith into it.  Last year, I started getting it from random people, I started to mix it with alcohol.  I came close to death 3 times while I was on Xanax. One time, I blacked out, I only had one foot left on a three story balcony.  I almost fell off, two people downstairs had to save me. Maybe it was attempted suicide, I don’t know.  I wasn’t ‘present’.

What made me decide to change?  I started opening up to people around Why Not.  A few people like Connor was a big part of it, Ian, Ash (volunteers), trying to push me through.  I always say there’s no progress without mistakes.

Celebrating a year feels amazing.  Looking back, I would have never seen this coming, I never did.  I never thought I would be here.  I was doing some other stuff while I was using, reckless stuff.  I felt like I was going to die before I was 18, I thought I wouldn’t be alive to see this.

I’ve been close to death so many times.  From the time I was 14 I kept a tally on my mom’s wall of the times I nearly died.  Finally I realized that if I was going to die, I’d already be dead so obviously I was meant to be here.

Lately, I’ve been working on CBT (using Beacon online) which is really helping. My panic is slowing down, my anxiety is better, more under control.  Depression I’ve had the longest so it’s going to take longer to control.  I’ve been working on music.  Why Not is getting a music recording room soon and I’m going to record my beats.  There’s a lot of artists at Why Not, expressing with music is such a good thing.  With music, I can say how I’m feeling on the inside.

I know now that my life has purpose, God has a purpose for my life.  It’s true now.

I’ve been teaching myself, after all the hurt and everything I’ve been through and all the stuff I’ve done to hurt others, you know: ‘Hurt people hurt people…’ that’s how I look at it.  Since there’s nobody there to forgive you, you have to forgive yourself, that’s the only way to escape that downward spiral.”

At Why Not, we are so proud of Nate.  We believe in him.  He’s a leader among the youth and we believe that he can use his experiences to help others improve their lives and follow his example in living clean.

Way to go, Nate.  Today, we celebrate YOU!