A memoir about my journey to and through Rehab
Written by: Trey Herlitz-Ferguson, Regional Outreach Coordinator Read more about Trey and his work at Legacy here!
It was a hot September day, and I was visiting my girlfriend at the University of Rhode Island; I was rolling a joint and looking forward to another night of xanax, alcohol, and a whole lot of nothing healthy. As I finished rolling a perfect joint (one of my only proud talents at the time) my phone started to buzz… It was my dad… aka “your whole life is about to change.”
My name is Trey Herlitz-Ferguson. I was born and raised in comfortable Westchester New York. My mom was a super successful self-employed investor, and my dad was a banker. My parents got divorced when I was 3 years old, and I lived primarily with Mom while growing up. I was a non-stop athlete, playing as many sports as I could and always choosing outside over the couch. I was a quietly anxious, but socially popular kid for as long as I could remember with dreams of being a professional athlete.
Growing up I always had an overwhelming amount of anxiety that I masked unconsciously by always staying busy and active. This worked for me for quite some time. I attached the majority of my success and ability to appear healthy and productive to my dreams of playing ice hockey at the highest level. I’ve often said that if it wasn’t for team requirements and early morning practices, I probably would have reached my rock bottom much sooner.
After completing a post graduate year at the Kent school in Connecticut, I found myself at a small liberal arts school that specializes in unhealthy, toxic rich kids masked by a decent reputation for academic excellence.
As a freshman in college, I had high hopes of making the hockey team as a walk-on but was quickly shot down due to an injury to my foot… aka ‘identity loss.’
This injury marked the grabbing of the shovel and the quick pursuit deep into my hole of drugs, parties, depression, and crippling anxiety. I was no longer “the hockey guy” but hey, I was fun to party with.
For the rest of my freshman year I enjoyed adderall benders, non-stop weed smoking, a minimum of four nights a week of partying, a few real (but mostly fake) friends, and the pursuit of absolutely nothing… or so I thought – but we will come back to that. It wasn’t long before I was put on academic probation, dropping courses with ease because I was too anxious to show up empty handed. The power of avoidance served me well… for a while.
As you probably could imagine my lifestyle at college was not sustainable and after somehow managing to make it through freshman year, my time as a college student was short lived. A few weeks into my sophomore year, about ten tabs of acid, and a thriving codependency to my girlfriend from back home, I dropped out and moved back in with my dad.
From the day I dropped out to that hot September day, let’s just say this… I became a reclusive, anxious, unproductive, self sabotaging, ungrateful, manipulative, lazy, broke, embarrassed, lost, scared, and depressed addict who was in complete denial of how bad things had gotten. Oh and let’s not forget the two trips to the Emergency Room – one for a panic attack that ended with me hitting my head on a rock and the second for an overdose on xanax.
It was bad. Really bad…
BACK TO THAT HOT SEPTEMBER DAY.
“Pops, I’m busy, what do you want?”
“Did you quit your job??” My dad immediately asked.
“Yeah it was interfering with my opportunity to coach hockey, and there’s no way I would choose full time at My Gym over coaching.” I replied.
“That isn’t going to work for me. You’re not in school, and if you want to live with me you are going to have to work full time.” Dad snapped back.
“Well then I guess I’m on my own, thanks for nothing… Peace out girl scout.”
At this point I was halfway into smoking my joint and had not fully grasped the reality of the situation I had just gladly signed up for. My mom had kicked me out almost three years prior, and the comfy, enabled situation I had sleeping in my dad’s basement had come to a close. I was homeless with nowhere to go besides the twin bed in my girlfriend’s dorm which was never going to work. And it didn’t… Shortly after the call, my girlfriend told me that her roommates were only okay with me staying with them for another two nights… Well f***.
Let me use this moment to highlight the most amazing warrior in my life.. MY SWEET SWEET MOMMA. When she kicked me out and I moved in with my dad she told me this, “Honey I can not be a part of your life anymore. I love you too much to enable your lifestyle and choices, but when you are ready to get some serious help, I will be there.” At the time she told me that I was in no place to understand and appreciate the love that was in her statement. So naturally, I cursed her out and chose to resent her for the years that followed… until this hot September day that is.
As the reality of my situation became clear I broke into tears and began to panic. I had no options left, and I was terrified of what my life was going to look like in the days to come.
“When you are ready to get serious help I will be there.”
My mom’s voice echoed in my head and I knew then and there that I had only one option… Manipulate my way through some bullshit program so that my mom would financially support me and I can get back to my girlfriend as quickly as possible.
So that was the plan…
“Hey Mom, it’s Trey…” I said nervously through the phone after not speaking to my mom for quite some time.
“Are you ok?” Mom replied.
“What exactly do you mean by serious help? I think I’m ready now.”
“A real substance abuse and mental health treatment program with real structure and real help.” My mom replied with the valid expectation that this was not me being serious but instead me trying to work some angle.
“I understand.. I’m ready.”
Click here for Part 2