Dear friends, family, and anyone else who may know me,
Late in the summer of 2011 I became addicted to a chemical called AM 2201. At that time, it was sold in smoke shops and on the Internet as an herbal tobacco blend. By January 2012, I was using it so much that it severely altered my judgment and behavior. I remained addicted to this drug until it became illegal during the summer of 2012.
I had been a teacher at a private high school in Waco, Texas. I loved my students and found joy in my vocation. In the summer of 2011, while writing some new courses that I would be teaching during the upcoming year, I had an accident that nearly took my life. I had been prescribed a sleep aid called Ambien, a medicine that can cause strange side effects. I took my first dose, fell asleep, and dreamt that I ran six blocks naked, climbed up a tree in a grocery store parking lot, fell out of it when a branch broke, and, for what seemed to be an eternity, lay paralyzed in total darkness aware of myself but stuck in my head. I thought that I had died. When I woke up in intensive care the next day, I learned that this had not been a dream, but that I had in fact survived a 25-foot fall onto pavement. It was a terrifying and humiliating event and the near death experience affected me deeply.
I grew anxious and melancholy. I began to avoid my friends and family. Then, I found relief in AM 2201. It was legal, inexpensive, and effective in treating the anxiety and depression I was experiencing after the fall. As I found myself unable to balance my medical bills and student loan debt on my dedicated teaching salary, I began to find refuge in this chemical as a way to escape the emotional and financial stresses that were beginning to consume me.
I quickly became addicted and the addiction turned psychological. The drug somehow created a world in which I could escape all of the trials that had come from the accident. At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, I was able to keep up appearances and fulfill my duties well enough to teach without any problems. However, during the Christmas break, the drug began to affect my psyche. By January 2012, I was no longer myself, but an irrational, paranoid, manic mess. I resigned from my teaching position. Those around me began to worry about my mental health. And yet, the more people expressed their concern, the more this drug-induced paranoia pushed me away from them.
When I left my job, I began to travel. I remember considering every person whom I met and every conversation that I had to be a part of some grand design of some sort. Many of these people whom I encountered certainly had their own psychological baggage. It was in the midst of one of these manic conversations that someone suggested that I begin documenting every part of this journey using the video camera on my iPhone. And so I did and began posting these videos on facebook and eventually this blog. It was as if I had become an adolescent once again. Without any filter, I acted on every thought that I had, every suggestion that was offered to me. One person encouraged me to found a homeless artist community in Jacksonville, FL; another suggested that I show the many good things the LGBT community does for Dallas; another suggested that I make humorous videos with street people in an effort to humanize them. I took these suggestions as if they had come from God himself and applied my efforts to each one of them.
I left my friends, former students, and family worried, hurt, and confused. When people would approach me with questions regarding my behavior, my reasoning and explanations fluctuated by the day. This unsustainable lifestyle finally forced me to move in with my parents, who knew nothing about my chemical dependency. Still blind to my situation and addicted to that awful chemical, I continued to roam the streets of Dallas, making videos with street people, thinking that I was somehow doing something good. I even caught the attention of a Dallas newspaper and gave an interview for an article that was afflicted by that manic nonsense that had been driving me. Finally, my parents discovered my drug addiction and banned me from their house. I was homeless and had nowhere to go, and yet I still persevered in my manic pseudo-religious calling, believing that this was just a trial on some meaningful path that others simply did not understand.
Around the time that I was barred from my parent’s house, AM 2201 became illegal and unavailable and I was forced to stop using it. However, my mind was still rolling in the small, manic world that it had created for itself, still guided by drug’s lingering influence. Even though I was living on the streets of Dallas, without money, without anything, I was still driven by that senseless mania, albeit to lessening degrees. Finally, the drug’s effects began wane and I began to return to myself.
In less than nine months I had gone from a respected and beloved high school teacher to a homeless social outcast. A single decision that went against my better judgment to use a strange and shady chemical to ease the severity of my afflictions effectively ruined my life. Eventually, I reconciled with my family, moved back in with my parents, and found employment. A few weeks later, I was my old self again, albeit broken and humiliated.
I haven’t really known what to do since then. I’ve been too embarrassed and ashamed to communicate with anyone, but realize that I cannot stay in hiding forever. So, here I am, coming out of the dark to ask forgiveness from those of you whom I have hurt and let down.
I screwed up and I’m very, very sorry.