Roxy Day knows what it is like to dig a hole so deep it could have served as her own grave. But she also knows the truth everyone who hits rock bottom realizes: The only way out is up.
Even if addiction is the shovel you use to get there.
Roxy grew up in the small town of Rogersville, Alabama. The daughter of divorced parents, she remembers feeling fortunate to spend time with both of them, as well as with their spouses and children. Roxy’s role in the family shifted the year she turned 15, when her mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Roxy went from typical teenager to concerned caregiver.
“I had a 4 year old sister at the time, so I ended up taking care of my sister’s needs because Mom couldn’t,” Roxy said. “I started to notice depression setting in, probably brought on by the stress of our circumstances.”
Roxy’s mom recovered, and life returned to normal. But a few years later, her mom developed complications and went back into the hospital. That was when Roxy had her first panic attack.
“I was just so overwhelmed and felt like things were out of control.”
Roxy’s doctor prescribed medication for a short period of time, and Roxy believes it set the stage for a dangerous habit: medicating her problems.
In 1997, Roxy married Jonathan. But between working full-time and Jonathan’s college schedule, they lived like roommates.
“We just saw each other coming and going,” Roxy said. “I remember feeling overwhelmed with everything. There were times I couldn’t breathe, I was so stressed out. So, I went to the doctor for medication to help me. Again, I wasn’t on it long-term, but the pattern had been established: If I felt anxious, take medication.”
Not long after her husband graduated from college, their daughter Anna was born — seven weeks early
“I had a terrible pregnancy, so I was already stressed out! Then Anna weighed just over four pounds and had sleep apnea issues. I was sent home with a tiny baby wearing alarms for the first three months of her life. I was 24 years old, overwhelmed and exhausted.”
Roxy reached the pinnacle of her anxiety a few months later when she had yet another panic attack while driving her daughter home on a foggy night. But this time, the medication her doctor gave her caused seizures. Extensive testing could not pinpoint the exact cause of the seizures, so doctors tried different medications.
It was the beginning of a multiple-medication cycle that would last for the next 17 years.
Overmedicated and Miserable
Finally it happened: Roxy felt pushed over the edge when she was passed over for promotion at work.
“At that time, I went to the doctor for a cold and was given a narcotic cough medicine. It made me feel so much better. It was as if all of the bad feelings just melted away.”
By 2005, Roxy’s life was in a dangerous downward spiral of debt and denial. Addicted to prescription drugs, Roxy was seeing multiple doctors to get prescriptions and using different pharmacies to fill them. She even stole medicine from her family. It was a dangerous game.
“I was more concerned with having money to pay for my medications than I was about paying our bills. My job performance was suffering, and I eventually quit. I started spending almost all of my time self-medicating.”
That year Jonathan decided to pull the pharmacy records in order to get an accurate picture of her addiction. In April of 2008, he delivered an ultimatum: Either go to rehab or the divorce attorney.
Roxy at Rock Bottom
“God had to let me fall on my face,” said Roxy. “I actually felt relieved! I didn’t have to keep being fake or keep telling lies. It was done. Now it was time to rebuild.”
With her marriage in shambles and addiction holding her captive, Roxy went to a treatment center that very night. There her road to recovery began.
“I was inpatient there for three weeks. They put me on meds to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay, and a psychiatrist put me on antidepressants to help me adjust. I was determined to make a fresh start of it and did everything they asked me to do.”
After Roxy was released, she continued taking the prescribed heavy dose of antidepressants, and they had a huge impact on her life.
“I spent nearly 20 hours each day in bed. I would set an alarm to take my daughter to school, then go back to bed. I would set another alarm to pick her up. Once we were home, I would go back to bed and set a third alarm to cook dinner. I no longer had any zest for life.”
Ironically, Roxy was taking such a massive dose of antidepressants that she actually seemed severely depressed.
But in 2013, a light broke through her darkness when Roxy decided to visit the church her sister had been attending in Decatur, Alabama. She had noticed the positive changes in her sister and was curious about the church of which she spoke so highly.
“(This church) was very different from my Southern Baptist upbringing. I felt like the people there were genuinely glad I was there. They hugged me!” Roxy said. “But what really grabbed my attention was a sign that said, ‘No Perfect People Allowed!’ That hit home with me immediately.”
From that day forward, Roxy would never be the same.
“The day I stepped into that church changed my life completely and radically.”
Roxy began seeking a true relationship with God. She and her daughter were baptized, and Roxy started attending a ladies’ small group, where they studied the Bible and shared life’s struggles.
“I could actually be myself there. I didn’t have to be fake and pretend everything was fine. I was in an environment where it was safe to share and be vulnerable. I was also able to listen to others share about how God had brought them through a hard time and knew there was hope for me.”
No Longer a Victim
Roxy no longer identifies as a victim. Now she considers herself victorious over her battle with addiction and self-defeat.
“I give all of the credit to God,” Roxy said. “He is the one who brought me through it. Things felt so bad when I was in the middle of it, but now when I look back, I can see God’s hand in it.”
If you were to see Roxy today, you would see someone with bright eyes and a big smile, not someone who used to spend all day in bed. She’s off all medications and is living her life to the fullest. Roxy is a leader at her church, loves traveling with her husband, and is her collegiate daughter’s biggest fan. She’s also happy to say her marriage to Jonathan is stronger than ever! Their relationship, which once stood on the brink of divorce, is now whole and healthy, just like Roxy.
But on the rare occasion anxiety creeps in, Roxy fights back with prayer and Bible reading. She finds God is always faithful to help her through it.
And she has a message for anyone battling addiction:
“It’s easy to think everyone has it all together. But the reality is that everyone struggles. So many people identify with shame and guilt, but there’s so much more to life! You are not what depression says you are. You are not what addiction says you are. There is better life available. Ask God for help, and He will give it to you.”