I adore Beth. She is a magical sweetheart with mad graphic design and reporting skills, but more than that, my sister in sobriety. I didn't realize how similar out stories/paths were until I featured her as TSC's 19th Re(Pro). Expect big, beautiful things from Beth.
Name: Beth Leipholtz
Location: Alexandria, MN
Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 5/07/2013
Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): Writing and graphic design
If applicable, drug of choice (or not of choice...): Alcohol
Recovery Story in a Nutshell:
I grew up in a stable, loving home, in small-town Minnesota. Both my parents had struggled with depression/anxiety, and as early as third or fourth grade I remember feeling different than others my age. I had what I then called “bad thoughts,” in which certain things would enter my mind and I just couldn’t shake them. I remember telling my mom once as she was driving that I had this desire to just jerk the wheel and see what happened. It was those streams of thoughts that would enter my mind and take up residence, refusing to budge.
Soon after admitting this to my parents, I saw a psychologist and began taking an anti-anxiety/antidepressant. Overall, it really helped and I had a good grip on my mental health. I was a straight-A student and a varsity athlete, so drinking was never on my radar in high school. Once I got to college, I knew I was open to drinking. So when freshman year rolled around and I joined rugby, I jumped at the first chance I had to drink. I had two beers and felt immediately more at ease. Talking to strangers was easy and making friends came effortlessly. I fell in love with the way drinking made me feel, and from there I was always looking for more, more, more.
At first I only drank on the weekends. Then weekends turned into Thursdays as well, then during weeknights, until eventually I was drinking before classes. I was never a daily drinker and I never needed alcohol to function. But it didn’t matter, because I wanted it all the time. My life became a series of drinking and looking forward to when I could drink again. Blacking out became normal for me, and I was usually the drunkest one in the room. Moderation meant absolutely nothing to me. I had somehow made it through two years of college without any major consequences from my drinking habits. Sure, I did stupid things, hooked up with the wrong people, fought with friends. But nothing earth shattering happened, so to me, I was doing just fine. From outsiders, that wasn’t the case. .
My last night at school before going home for the summer before junior year, I went out with friends. I remember the first hour or so, and then nothing. The next memory I have is waking up in a hospital bed, seeing my parents huddled in the corner and thinking, “Oh, shit.” Oh shit was right. The night before I had apparently drank myself into a stubborn, blackout state, and refused to go home with friends. I left the bar alone (I have no idea how I even got in the bar since I was not 21) and tried to make my way back to my dorm. Instead of making it there, I passed out on the sidewalk, where the police found me. I was told I had a .34 blood alcohol content, so they took me to the hospital. Sadly, this amount of intoxication was normal for me, so all I needed was to sleep it off. However, nothing about this was normal for my parents. My mom immediately began making calls to treatment centers. I knew I wasn’t getting away with my actions, so I complied to treatment, thinking I would just go back to my previous ways after I was done.
The first month was hell and I was resistant to everything I was told. I didn’t think I belonged there and was convinced I was better than everyone else beside me. As time passed, I came around. One day I came across a quote that read, “An alcoholic is anyone whose life gets better when they stop drinking.” And that was when I knew. I was an alcoholic, because in just a month without alcohol, my life was immeasurably better. I had energy again, I had lost weight, I didn’t have to wake up with no memories, and I had begun rebuilding relationships. From that point on, I ran with it.
Today I am three years and three months sober. I am in a healthy, happy relationship with a steady job. I am an active voice in the online recovery community, something that makes me feel like I am finally giving back what I was so freely given. I’ve even been able to stop taking my antidepressants, in part because I have faced the demons that haunted me for so long. I still hit bumps, sometimes daily, but now I ride them out rather than drown them out -- that’s what life is about.
Top 5 Recovery Tools
1) Writing about recovery/sharing my story.
2) Forging relationships with others who have been in the same situation.
3) Exercise/creating new goals for myself.
4) Being honest and open with myself and others.
5) 12-step meetings (on occasion).