FEATURED STORY: Self – Love. Overcoming Loss & Addiction

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health and addiction, causing many people to avoid talking or seeking help. It is a topic that is often avoided. Kimberly Jev (32), who sadly lost her fiancé Steven Howe in January 2015 after a battle with substance abuse, says that it is really important to keep talking.

“One of the painful things about dealing with an addiction or mental health issue is that it pushes us to isolation and pushes us to shut the world out when what we really need is the interaction.”

“We have to be open to the difficult conversations and open to learning from the really difficult situations that we may find ourselves in. This is something that has been key to living as someone who has gone through such a tragedy. It’s just really important to keep talking, really important to make it through the difficult conversations – this is where healing lives.”

Despite the stigmas, Kimberly recalls that very early in their relationship, Steve was “very forthcoming and honest about who he was and his struggles.”

“No two addicts are alike and with a background in the medical field, Steve was aware of his dependencies but yet always fell back in the grips of his struggles.”

“There were no suspicious moments. We both agreed that as individuals in a team we had to always work on ourselves parallel to working on our relationship and work lives as well as this problem.”

“Steve had attempted programs that he felt were good for his journey to recovery. He went to meetings and talked openly when set up in situations that facilitated room for him to express his sentiments.”

“For someone in recovery, Steven did very well with balancing his life but at times things would go south very quickly and a pattern would re-emerge.”

“I think sometimes when this subject is handled it’s portrayed as though the individual could not have it together. The reality of this story is that there were periods of happiness and periods of strife. It wasn’t all bad, all the time. There were large and small fluctuations of activity, of life, of a togetherness that was enjoyable and loving.”

“Steve’s mother was a heavy substance user, causing Steve to be born with withdrawals. On top of that, there were a number of factors that contributed to how things played out in the long run, especially toward the end of 2015, says Kim.

“There was a slump in the economy beginning to make deep rivets in peoples lives, we had made a couple of really intense life decisions and not having a solid support system at times affected our performances.”

Kim says that her journey has led her on the road to her own recovery, which of course has not been easy.

“It took a long time for me to even get to the point of wanting to be alive when I wake up.

“Recovery has been horrible and at first you think recovery is something that just happens. You think there will be a day when you will be 100% healed, but the truth of the matter is actual recovery comes when you get beyond the physical limitations the grief or pain has on you, freeing yourself mentally and being able to walk in tandem with your everyday life. When you actually make it to the point where taking care of yourself, really taking care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically comes as second nature, is when you are truly on the up in this journey.”

“In the beginning, it was particularly difficult to face the fact that terrible things happen, tragedies happen but life keeps going. The world keeps turning. Things keep evolving. They may not be what you want to evolve but there are over 7 billion people on the planet today, when you start to think outside of yourself and away from the epicenter of the hurt you may be carrying, you reach an understanding that everybody on this earth has to deal with a loss and will have to deal with several over their lifetime.”

“Coming from this mindset has really pushed me to continue facing the truth about situations, continue adjusting for the betterment of myself and my mind. We are all in a state of recovery from something, the minute or grand, as humans who share similarities biologically, there is just a shared understanding and you may not be able to sympathize or understand but it happens.”

Kimberly says that when you start your recovery process, you have to take it day by day.

“I’ve had to really learn to celebrate the small stuff, celebrate small wonders and victories of each day.”

To anyone struggling with addiction or mental health issues, Kimberly stresses the importance of continuing to talk.

“What I would say to anyone who may be struggling is to be absolutely open about what you are going through. It’s important to share your struggle, it’s important for a few people to really understand so that when you do pick up the phone to call for help, they will be able to attend to you in the best possible way.”

“Being able to share your pain with others should be something celebrated. For me as I work on maintaining stability I have had to be very open with my friends and family about my needs. One thing that I think really helped me understand everything I have been through is just the honesty that I have been surrounded by, even from Steve. He was very honest with me about his struggles and I think that helped shape our bond and really helped us work towards healing.”

While many see addicts as ‘others’, Kimberly states that we are not so different.

“I want people to know that it doesn’t matter what you look like, doesn’t matter where you went to university, it doesn’t matter if you have the best job in the world, doesn’t matter if your social class is up in the rankings. Addiction, mental health issues, suicide, depression – these are all things we deal with as human beings. There is not a single soul on this earth that can say they have never faced a problem, lost a job or had difficulty getting their minds around something.”

“As humans we all suffer in one way or the other.”

“If we can stop looking at ourselves as different I feel maybe it can bring some kind of understanding that no single pain is unique.” – Shylo Thompson

Photography and Knitwork by Fela Photography

If you are interested in seeing this story in PRINT, click here.




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