Anxiety. Stress. Depression. PTSD. They have been a part of my life since I was a child—and I am still learning how these things can affect my life and how to trust God with them sometimes. But am I giving in to them? No way!
I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, and I struggle with drugs/alcohol and PTSD, and my name is Scott.
When I was about 11, my stepfather sexually abused my older sister. That decision devastated our family. Mom kicked him out immediately after finding out, and she tried to keep going for about two years by using alcohol to numb the pain. But when she hit rock bottom, she could no longer care for the four of us kids, so my younger brother and sister went to my stepdad, while my older sister and I went to a foster home before being sent to our real father, who lived on the other side of the country—even though we had never met him. I tried to go back to my mother, but I was told she couldn’t take me. I went from a happy young teenager to a suicidal young teenager in one phone call. I wouldn’t realize until decades later that I suffered from PTSD as a result of my parents’ decisions during that time.
For the next few years I drank Pepto Bismol out of the bottle in attempt to quench the heartburn and reflux I suffered because of my anxiety and stress. People didn’t talk about anxiety or stress in those days. PTSD was not even a diagnosis yet, so I did not receive any help for my mental distress. I did receive Christ soon after moving to my father’s house, but without help to address what had happened to me, I had no hope of getting better. And I didn’t. I put on a mask and pretended to be okay, while inside I was losing my mind. I went from being a broken, mentally ill child to a broken, mentally ill adult.
I got engaged to my wife at 20, became an instant father to her 6-month-old little boy, and spent the next 21+ years of our marriage raising a family in shame, guilt, stress, depression, and cycles of drug and alcohol addiction, with periods of sobriety and church mixed in. In 2010 I returned home after completing a 13-month contract in Afghanistan. My wife and I had an exhausted relationship. She had fallen apart during my absence and was caught in her own addiction. I had PTSD again, and three months later a grand mal seizure left me neurologically disabled. Six months later I had a tri-level back fusion from numerous fractures after the seizure, plus a pain med addiction, alcohol addiction, anxiety that was so bad it would cause more seizures, and depression that was beyond anything I ever thought possible. I was on seven psychotropic drugs at once. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I hit bottom in May 2012 after spending 75% of my time in bed for the previous year and a half.
My wife and I heard about Celebrate Recovery® during a “New Church Orientation” one Sunday after service. Our neighbors had told us about CR at their church, too. We started attending both the same week. I knew the first night that I wanted to stay. No judgment, no condemnation—just love and acceptance, and even excitement that we were there. I felt valued and wanted. We started serving at both CR’s, which made me feel like I was a part of something great!
I got into my first Step Study, and during the Turn Lesson, for the first time in my life I accepted God’s love and grace for me. I let go of the lie that he was angry at me. I matter to him, and I learned to remove the mask and let my new family see the real me. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (NIV). Not only is he living inside of me, but he is working in me to help me live the life I had only dreamed of living. A good friend of mine in recovery said, “I am finally free to live righteously without the fear of condemnation and judgment”. I love that! How bold to say I can live righteously! It’s true, though. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” ( Galatians 2:20 NIV).
I still have epilepsy and still struggle with anxiety and depression at times. I take medicine, and I do not condemn myself for needing it. I have an amazing counselor who works well for me, and my wife and I celebrated 28 years of marriage on May 11. I have three children, one in The Landing, one in adult CR, and one whom God is working in right now. On May 24 I will celebrate seven years alongside my wife, my youngest son, and my daughter, who will be celebrating one year. I am a state rep in Northwest Arkansas, and I get to sponsor other men.
My life has changed so dramatically because Jesus and I didn’t quit before my miracle happened! Don’t you quit either!