Amber’s Story

The views and opinions expressed in following story are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mental Health Colorado.

Written Submission:

Hi, I am Amber and I am a recovering addict with over six years clean and I have been diagnosed at Bipolar II, PTSD and OCD. My first stay in the mental hospital was in 1995 and my last stay was in 2003.

In those eight years I was probably hospitalized 20 times.

In 2003 I got on the right combination of medications. I have only been clean for six years even though I have been trying to get clean since 1995.

I have a nine year old son that I am raising by myself because I left his dad when I was seven weeks pregnant. His dad is in prison currently and will probably be in prison until my son is 12. I am glad that he is not in the picture.

I came out as a lesbian four years ago. I tried to come out when I was 19 and my mom started crying and blamed it on my dad so I dated men for about the next 20 years to make her happy. When I was 40 I fell for this girl and came out all over again. Now I don’t care what people think. I just want to be happy.

My son is a well adjusted young man.  I raised my nephew for his first six years while his mom got her life back together.  He went back to her six years ago and now they live in Michigan.  I raised my step daughter for about six years also until she went to go live with her mom at the age of 13.  I also raised another lady’s baby while she was getting her life together so I raised baby Ariela from nine months old to 19 months old.

When I left my ex husband 10 years ago I was on disability so when I left him I had to get on subsidized housing, food stamps, Medicaid and LEAP.  My disability payments were only about $900  a month.  I was having to have my dad help me financially because I could not make ends meet on my own.  I decided when my son went to preschool that I could not support us on what I would make working minimum wage.

A friend suggested I try online school.  I went to the University of Phoenix for 3 years.  I got my Associates Degree and some more credits.  My last year of college I went to the University of Northern Colorado and I graduated with a Bachelors degree and my major in Human Services.

I did my internship at Connections for Independent Living and they hired me on as soon as I was done with my internship hours.

I am now off of food stamps. My son is off of Medicaid. I am off of disability. I no longer qualify for LEAP. I bought a brand new car last year.

During my addiction my bottom was that I could not imagine life with drugs anymore and I could not imagine life without drugs.  I was at the jumping off point and I just wanted to die.  I would pray every night that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning and every morning when I woke up I would be mad at God that he didn’t let me die in my sleep.  Now I am part of a fellowship of recovering addicts and we help each other stay clean.

I have been married and divorced twice to men.  I am currently single but I do not need a relationship to define me anymore.  I know that I am a good employee and mother and I am helpful to other recovering addicts as they are helpful to me.

My mother also suffers from mental health issues so we tend to butt heads. My brother is in jail yet again. When we were young he was my protector because we were shuffled around so much.  He found drugs at the age of 13 and I lost him after that.

My drugs of choice were meth, pot and alcohol.  At the worst of my using I weighed 85 lbs and was wearing kids sized clothing.  My reality was so warped at that time that I thought I looked good.  I have gained a lot of weight due to getting clean and all the medications I am on but at least I am stable and clean.

I know that the battle with mental illness and/or addictions is hard. I walked through it. I lived it. I survived. Now I just want to be an encouragement for other people wanting to get clean that might also fight with mental illness. It is possible to live a productive life. Even if you don’t work a job or career due to your mental illness you can be a successful mom or wife or whatever it is that you choose to do.

Please listen to my story and know that there is hope.



More than 500,000 Coloradans lack the mental health care they need. You can change that. For more than 60 years, Mental Health Colorado has led the charge in promoting mental health, ending stigma, and ensuring equitable access to mental health and substance use services. It’s life-changing work. Your contribution makes it possible.

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