Keep Telling Personal Stories: Ben VanSledright
by Amanda Vermeer on Feb 09, 2022
Trigger Warning: This blog post contains a discussion of alcohol abuse, addiction, mental health issues, self harm, and suicide. Continue reading at your own discretion.
For more than half of my life I have battled depression, and for a majority of that I chose to drink away the pain and loneliness. I chose to fight depression with a depressant. Some of you may think that’s obviously not a good situation, but when you’re in the moment all you can think about is how it can make you feel absolutely nothing.
It’s in those moments that I found the sweetest relief from all the raging thoughts of self doubt, self harm, self sabotage, and suicide. My head was so clear that I could actually sleep, but then the morning came and the thoughts wold come rushing back and I would just drink them away all over again. Thus began the cycle.
First it started with just weekend binging and partying, and at my worst escalated to blacking out every single night of the week. All to find peace from the pain I held so tight inside. Eventually I hit my rock bottom. I was drinking myself to death, and when that didn’t work I took it a step further and physically tried to end my life.
I want to show you the importance of talking to someone about thoughts you may have, that they are normal and you are not alone. I had a drinking problem and I wasn’t telling anyone until it got impossible for me to fix. I found help that night. I checked into a hospital, and I found the help I needed. I surrounded myself with family and friends that cared unconditionally about me and built a solid support system.
For a long time I labeled myself as an addict. I never really knew how else to describe it, and it was easiest for other people to understand that way. Through many years of going to therapy, I’ve been working through the thought of having that label. That I, in a way, chose it for myself. I let my addiction define me.
Today I choose to be defined by my sobriety. You don’t have to be defined by your mental illness, your addiction, or whatever else you struggle with. There is another side to that story.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other mental illness, please talk to someone. You may not see instant results, but if you truly want to get better, you will. There are people that want to help you. It is my goal to continue to share personal stories about feelings, emotions, or thoughts in our heads to show how it truly can change a life from the absolute lowest point. How important it is to talk to people, to invest in their lives, and to hold your friends and family close.
If you know someone is struggling but don’t know how to start the conversation, feel free to share my story with them. Even a simple text can make a world of difference. Maybe you can be the light they need to pull themselves out of the darkness.
Each and every one of us has a story to tell - whether it’s good, sad, ugly, or beautiful, it all serves a purpose and got you to where you are today. It is my hope as I keep sharing my personal stories, that they show you how talking about your struggles, your feelings, your wins, and many more things can truly impact someone’s life. Even if you don’t want to share your own, everyone has a story, everyone has a voice.
Keep telling personal stories.
~ Ben VanSledright
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Canada Suicide Prevention Service:
1-833-456-4566 or text 45645