Thursday, August 12, 2010
My Story; Do not despair, there is hope out there!
I was born and raised in Upstate, NY. I had a good childhood with parents that loved me, but that did not love each other. After 30 years of marriage my Parents divorced. They are not the reason I chose drugs. My parents cannot be blamed for the decisions I made as an adult. I was a good kid, who from an early age had dreams of seeing the World after hearing all of my Grandfather's WWII stories and where he had been in the World.
I did get to see the World, and by the age of 25 I had been to Australia 3 times, New Zealand, all over Europe, Mexico, Jamaica, The Bahamas, and all over the United States. I went to College, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Health Services Management. My travel around the World is the reason I wound up in the Travel Industry where I have been working the past 10 years.
So, where did I go wrong? What happened? What caused me to decide one day to do drugs? Why did it take me 7 years to finally put the drugs to rest? Can I blame it on the fact that I didn't like my job, that I didn't like my living situation, or that my car payment was too high? Can I blame it on my Parent's divorce, my Grandfather's death, my parent's illnesses, or because of the breakup of my first partner?
Maybe it's because I never had "enough" money? Did I do drugs out of envy of others who had all the money and could enjoy Broadway plays, and nice dinners out? Did I do drugs because I felt sorry for myself? Did I Maybe I did them because I so want to find love again, but haven't been able too?
NO! None of these are reasons that I did drugs, but things I have blamed my use on over the years.
I was lured into the drug and sex culture by a gay male social networking website called manhunt.net that played on my vulnerabilities as a young adult. At a time when I was exploring my sexuality, I didn't know where to turn, until I saw an ad from manhunt in Boston offering a free unlimited membership.
I was never the most popular; I was shy, ugly, and awkward (in my opinion). I had no friends and I was bullied in school. I think these reason lye at the core of my addiction, and manhunt.net played on these vulnerabilities and became the catalyst to 7 years of my life being lost.
Before the age of 25 I never touched a drug, other than Alcohol. Crystal Meth, Cocaine, GHB, Ecstasy? These were words I never knew of until I joined manhunt.net. It all sounded fun to me, and for 7 years until I was 32 these drugs rolled in and out of my life, as did many people, and all for the wrong reasons.
I was never a daily user. I would always set boundaries and limitations around my use, and I NEVER did IV drugs. I wasn't THAT bad, or was I? Fortunately I never lost anything of value, never lost a job, was never harmed by a stranger I met online, nor did I ever overdose. I guess I am lucky to still be here and tell my story, but I can tell you one thing that the drug use did do. It's damaged my body for the rest of my life.
Because of my recreational and occasional drug use, mixed with unsafe sex practices - today, I am HIV positive and living with Hepatitis C. The dual diagnosis crippled me emotionally and physically in the beginning, and it's not until now that I am finally starting to feel OK.
I have always been a hypochondriac when it came to my health, and luckily both illnesses were diagnosed VERY early. Today, my viral load from the Truvada/Isentress combination is undetectable. And last week I learned from my Dr. at Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC that my Hepatitis treatment will be only 24 weeks vs the standard 48 and that I will cure it. Why? It's because I caught it early.
The HEP C treatment consists of Interferon (low dose of chemo used to treat melanomas) which I give myself each week. It is just a shot in the stomach. It's easy to do and harmless. Along with this I must take 1200 mg a day of Ribavirin. The treatment is not as bad as what I had heard, or read about online – it is all about recognizing and managing the symptoms.
Today I have renewed focus to finally put an end to this madness and promote myself to greater causes. Those causes are to help prevent another young male from being lured into sites such as manhunt.net, and roped into a life non representative of gay culture; and to be an advocate in my community in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and other STD's. I have committed to furthering my education with a Masters Degree in Public Health. I will also begin volunteer work next month in the LGBT community.
My gratitude today goes to the Crystal Meth Anonymous rooms I found in NYC. I never knew such an organization existed to help those who suffer with an addiction to crystal meth. I am also very grateful to the PRIDE Institute in Minnesota, where I stayed inpatient for 32 days. They helped me understand my addiction and allowed me to come to terms with my dual diagnosis in a safe and caring environment. My gratitude is also with my Family and their loved ones who too have had it rough over the past months with my coming out and dual diagnoses.
I am most grateful that I am here today to tell my story, and I hope that whoever is reading this in the World today is around another day. The World is better with you in it; you can beat your addiction, and manage your illnesses and go on living a very healthy and fulfilling life. There are numerous resources to help you do so. Don't give up, I didn't. Keep battling, and one day you will come out on top
I'll leave you with a quote from Thomas Edison.
"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
I'd like to share with you some photo's of my travels.
Ayers Rock, Australia (2003)
Whitsunday's Island Chain, Australia (2003)
Whitewater rafting down the Tully River in Australia (2003)
Skydiving in New Zealand (2003)
At the Louvre in Paris (2001)
You can see even more of my photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/kevincaresusa
My Story on You Tube
Posted by Kevin Maloney at 11:53 AM