This disease is not a choice; it is a daily struggle
My name is Anne Whyman, and I am an addict. I am also one hell of a fighter, warrior, survivor and living proof that there is hope after heroin.
Some of you might remember me from March 2013 when my house got raided by the Drug Enforcement Agency and Easton Police Department for a methamphetamine lab.
For most, that alone would be enough to “wake up,” but it wasn’t for me. It was only the awaking of the sleeping monster within. Although I thought I had hit rock bottom, I wasn’t even close. My life spiraled into pure chaos.
I had never been in trouble with the law. I had earned a degree in criminal justice and was an amazing mother to my three gorgeous children. Yet there I sat in jail all because of my disease.
I have met many incredible women during my numerous incarcerations. Many do not belong there, but I also met a few I shouldn’t have, and after my release, I was introduced to the devil.
Heroin is like a chunk of ice that moved over my heart and froze any feelings I had left. At the time, it seemed like the perfect escape from my problems, but over four months, what seemed to be my new best friend became my own living hell.
The pain from detoxing off opiates can be excruciating, and I couldn’t take any more pain, so I broke down and turned to the only people I knew would help, my parents.
I ended up getting a bed at the Whitsitt Rehabilitation Center, detoxed and 21 days later walked out a new woman. I stayed clean from heroin, and three months later, I was pulled over for an expired tag, which led to my car being searched. What was believed to be a small rock of heroin was found on the floor under my seat.
I was arrested, and after posting bail, my worst fear came true. The Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained me, and I faced deportation back to England. I sat for six months in federal custody, spending many hours reading and learning in the immigration law library. I won my case, and the judge granted me cancellation of removal.
It was a huge wakeup call, and I thought it was the hardest thing I would ever face.
But I was wrong. I thought I had won my battle with addiction, but in February 2016, just shy of one year clean, I relapsed and was again charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
In June 2016, I was admitted into the University of Maryland Shock Trauma’s intensive care unit and was told that had I not gone in, I would have died within a day. I spent a month fighting for my life, endured multiple surgeries, and I finally had to face my feelings and cope with the guilt from my path of destruction.
I hurt so many people who love and care about me. Even after that, with all the physical and emotional pain, it still wasn’t enough of a lesson for me. I relapsed again, and after living on the streets of Baltimore, running from the police with warrants and slowly killing myself, I was saved by my loving husband, and I will forever be grateful.
There are many people who have helped me on my path to recovery, and for them I am so grateful. Eastern Shore Psychological Services is an amazing organization, and I truly believe they saved me from slipping back into the grip of heroin.
I am also beyond blessed to have two amazing parents who have supported me when most would have turned their backs. Thank you to my mom, Gillian Whyman, for your unconditional love and for taking such good care of my son; thank you to my dad, Christopher Whyman. Thank you to Tidewater Rotary Club for helping raise awareness about addiction by supporting Talbot Goes Purple.
It is so important for people to understand that this disease is not a choice; it is a daily struggle. I didn’t think there was any hope for me, but to all those who are still sick and suffering — if you want sobriety, you can achieve it. All you need is the faith the size of a mustard seed.
I thank God every day for giving me a second chance at life. Because of my addiction to heroin, I was detained for a second time by ICE and deported back to London. It is a huge price to pay for a disease, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Today, I am proud to say I am nine months clean, and it feels incredible.
If you have a personal story and are willing to share (anonymously is fine) please email talbot email@example.com. To find out more about Talbot Goes Purple, go online to www.talbotgoespurple.org.
A recent photo of Anne Whyman, who is in recovery from heroin addiction.
Anne Whyman in the intensive care unit at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.