*I’m working something big, and although I’m usually really out front about what’s going on in the adventures, this might be a little off from the normal “Nikki is in____”.
I’ve been moved and saddened by a recent story on the news about a young lady, Julie Leger, from London, KY whom after taking drugs was found butt ass naked running with the high school track team. The story popped into my news feed from my Greenville news channel (mind you Greenville is hundreds of miles away from London, or even Corbin where the incident occurred). The headline was tantalizing, “woman runs naked with local track team”, how could you NOT read it, right? Before opening the link, I prepared myself for anything. I was expecting to see a blurred out picture of an overweight woman and a bunch of teens pointing and laughing or even the old school black box bouncing along hiding the shame in some raw footage. I was imagining someone more 40 something with an obvious loss of care about personal hygiene. I expected bad, but what I saw was worse.
Young. That was the first thing that hit me, she’s young. 26 years old, and pretty (looking passed the horridness of a mug shot, you can see she’s a pretty girl). She wasn’t the “bad girl” I was expecting to see. Her eyes looked so sad, her deed was now nationwide due to the hands of broadcasters trying to boost click rates and viewership. Her dirty laundry (no real pun intended, but it’s kind of funny) out there for the world to read about and pass judgement on. Every news channel in Central and Eastern Kentucky had run her picture and a version of the story, most of which were right on with the original story, then a few that stretched the story a bit to include her growling at the girls and chasing the boys. That’s expected behavior for someone who is either schizophrenic or on some drugs – hard drugs.
The sheer context of the story was pretty lacking, just that the incident occurred and that she is incarcerated now. There wasn’t any sort of back story, and that’s a good thing, except for people like me that really need to know and want to know more about the story. Oddly enough, after doing a search into who Julie is, I didn’t find anything except a public message board post from seven years ago speaking both highly and poorly of her. Some of the comments claimed that she was getting her life together and hadn’t used in two weeks, others claimed she was a user addict that was “playin”. There were two sides of the Julie story, I chose to believe the version that she was trying to get her life in order and fly straight and narrow, but deep within the pits of my addictive and passionate soul I knew otherwise, I felt her pain.
Nobody wants to make the front page of the newspaper, unless you saved puppies from burning buildings or something. I can speak from both sides of the coin on that one, I’ve been applauded for good and ridiculed for bad. The news of her spread through the South East like a typhoid outbreak, and it was touching people far beyond the reaches of sleepy little Corbin. The implications of mass media tossing the information around more than likely caused her her job, her friends and perhaps even more. The ramifications are so far reaching, I’m not sure how she could ever show her face around the community again.
And that might be a good thing.
A rude awakening is never fun, especially when it hits you when you have no idea what’s going on. Try to imagine what it’s like to have no concept of who you are, where you are, or why you have no clothes on. My guesses are that she didn’t intentionally drive to the track field, take drugs, and run with the team on purpose, she was in the grips of a powerful and crippling disease, addiction.
If I haven’t done a little more research and found accusations of this behavior and usage from seven years prior, I would have shrugged it off as an amateur drug user that took one too many lines, or maybe just got a bad batch.the fact she has had a history makes it an even sadder case. Seven year and probably more of dealing with a monkey on your back, a drug more powerful than anything you can buy, your own thoughts. Your brain is the most powerful weapon and drug at the same time, able to empower you and cripple you with the same intensity. It’s easy for us to pass judgement, but let’s look a bit further.
The police couldn’t identify her due to lack of clothes and because she didn’t even know who she was. In my worst days, I didn’t know who I was – but in a more philosophical manner. The only way they were able to identify her was to turn her picture lose on the Internet, the very place that is not only going to propel her into public eye, but also put her exactly where she needs to be. A family member stepped forward to identify her, which was the right thing to do of course, but how heart crushing would that be? Picking up the phone and making that call “yes, I know that girl, she is my….”
The family most likely knew of her sad state for quite some time, as somwthing as powerful as an addiction like that is almost impossible to hide. Meth and bath salts were accused of being the substance that instigated the behavior, neither of which you’d actively want to come forward and say you have a problem with, especially when they’re so illegal and so much of a crisis in many areas. Julie needed help, she needed an intervention seven or more years ago (she was 19 seven years ago, not even old enough to go down to the store and buy a case of beer). Somebody should have done something.
Maybe they did and it fell on deaf ears, and maybe she wasn’t ready to bounce back. I can inform you first hand, not only from personal experiences but stories of others I know, you’ll never except help until you’ve reached absolute bottom. The only person who knows absolute bottom is you.
The bottom isn’t always where you think it is, and I’m hoping from the bottom of my heart, this is Julie’s bottom.
I’ve bottomed out before, only to come back stronger and wiser. Never once did I want to have hit the bottom in the first place, but I did take responsibility for how I got there. It was I who made decisions that led me down dark paths. It was myself and nobody else that made the decision to starve herself into hospitalization in the name of anorexia. It was I who threw myself countless times under the bus to spells of bulimia leaving me with an empty belly and wallet to match. Those around me knew I had eating disorders, but it was never really spoken about until it was too late. Until I was threadbare, until my guts did give up in me, until I switched from food to alcohol as my preferred method of medication. It’s not over, oh no, it’s a battle from keeping yourself not only from hitting bottom again, but trying to fight for those that don’t know where their bottom is.
I really feel like this is Julie’s bottom, and in the spirit of #edaw (eating disorder awareness week) I’d like to shine a light out, a beacon light of hope and courage, to all of those suffering. Addiction, for those who have never experienced, is a cold war of the soul. The only casualties occur to the ones you love, you kill their trust, you kill their love, you kill their feelings, but mostly, your addiction will break their heart. The selfish nature of addiction tells us that we shouldn’t care and that we “don’t need anybody” but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The motto for this year’s eating disorder awareness week is “it’s time to talk about it”. This is my Segway into talking about it. Let’s open not only our eyes, but our lives for those still suffering and perhaps those that are suffering in silence (perhaps too embarrassed to talk about it)
Here are some tips in opening a dialog about a potential abusive addiction.
-when trying to confront someone with what is thought to be a fear of food, never bring up food as the primary subject. It’s easier lots of times to use something the total opposite, like shopping. Many times when, when clothes shopping for example, those who struggle will never say anything good about what they try on or buy, it’s a constant hatred towards themselves. Use this as a gateway to ask the simple questions “how could you say that?” or “what makes you think that?” this can lead to a more comfortable conversation. If this doesn’t work, try the “oh my God, I look like a pig too”. Typically you’ll get a response of “no, I’m the pig” this is where you can ask where the differences between the two of you are. Those with addictions tend to have more compassion for others.
-if you’re under the assumption that a loved one is participating in something that a few calories can’t fix, such as illegal activity (drugs and shoplifting are very common bleed over addictions for those with eating disorders) don’t hesitate to call your local police department and talk to an officer. I’ve actually done this recently and got some very good advice and I feel like I helped clean up the world. Never throw anyone under the bus, but at the same time, sometimes that’s where the bottom is.
-is you suspect there is misappropriation of funds for I’ll use such as a binge eating habit or drugs, try to find ways to get the person that is struggling to spend more money than they have. Absolutely nothing cripples an addiction like the lack of funds. In some cases, however, use caution, people have been known to do some sketchy stuff for money just to feed their addiction. Talking someone into buying a new car with steep payments is a good start (ask me how I know)
-confide in others that know the individual and try to set up some sort of group of support to try and monitor the behavior of the person. Many times the person who is struggling will get stressed out at the unwanted constant attention and make a slip up that will make it easier for them to ask for help.
Treatment facilities are useless unless the person is ready for them, so don’t go treating to lock them up! Open arms are much more inviting than the concept of behind bars.
So, Julie Leger, I’m here for you – I’m here for all the people out there who suffer from addiction.