Meet Shannon

My name is Shannon and I am 55 years young. I have been diagnosed with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and SUD (Substance Use Disorder). I am a recovering alcoholic and addict.

I grew up in a good suburban family. Dad was a police officer. Mom stayed at home with my sister and I.

At the age of 17, my father left and moved out. This is when my depression started.

I finished school, started a full time job, and got married at the age of 21. I gave my all to my husband, and eventually our two children, but I never dealt with the trauma of my father leaving.

Fast forward 20 years, and my marriage ended. This is when I started drinking and using cocaine.

In 2008, my stepmom asked me to help her care for my father after he had surgery. I flew down to Tennessee. Together, we cared for my father. After we had him home for 10 days, he was diagnosed with stage 4 brain, lung and bone cancer. He died 11 days later.

At the age of 43, I had lost the man that I always looked up to. I was Daddy’s little girl. I was broken. My drinking and drug use increased.

My reason for living, or so I thought, came to an end 18 months after I buried my father.

My mother – my absolute best friend – died in January of 2010.

My world turned upside down again. My alcohol and drug use increased again. I surrounded myself with people that were also drinking and using drugs. I began to withdraw from my family, but especially my children. I was homeless and moved from couch to couch. I lost jobs, my license, money and eventually myself.

I suffered a stroke in October of 2022. The doctors found a blood clot at the base of my brain stem. The stroke wasn’t caused by drinking and cocaine. After two weeks, I went right back to my old way of life. I think, at the time, maybe I did want to die. I had lost everything that ever mattered to me.

In March of last year, I sat in the room I rented. At 10:30 a.m., I had an open beer and a bag of cocaine, about to turn 55 years old. I finally realized that this was not the life I wanted to live any longer. I finally asked for help.

I spent 28 days in an inpatient facility, 128 days in another inpatient facility, and five-and-a-half months living at GRACE House. I have been receiving treatment for my mental health for many years, but it was not until I put myself into treatment that I understood how mental health, especially depression, relates to alcoholism and addiction.

I will celebrate my one year of sobriety this month, shortly after I turn 56. I no longer live at GRACE House and am attending PROS. I am currently taking courses through the NYS Academy of Peer Services to become a Mental Health Peer Advocate.

I am also receiving treatment for my mental health. I attend numerous AA meetings weekly and I have a wonderful circle of friends here at PROS. I have to thank places like Hope Haven Batavia, Casa Trinity Dansville, GRACE House, C.H.A.D., and PROS. I would not be where I am today without these programs, and of course, the people who give so much everyday to help people just like me.