TRUTH TELLER: Daniel
Standing at the Edge of My Nightmare
March 28, 2016 Last night I tried to kill myself. I’ve lived my darkest nightmare. Come to think of it, the entire time I used cocaine was me tiptoeing closer and closer to the edge of the nightmare. How far could I push it? A ‘hair-of-the-dog’ was my key bump when I felt that my nose couldn’t stop running from the night before. This was my way to keep my depression from eating me. This was my way to keep my depression from killing me. I thought I was in control, but really, I wasn’t. As my depression fed my addiction, my addiction fed my depression. Each line of cocaine led me to a place that was darker and darker.
Not too long ago I accepted a job to open a nightclub as a General Manager. Even though I was taking a step back from my traditional casual, fine-dining experience, being on the opening team in hospitality industry is an opportunity that you don’t pass up. I can’t exactly remember when I lost sight of my values, but it didn’t take long for my life to spiral. If you had met me a few months ago, I would have told you that I have a passion for food and drinks; that I wanted to learn as much as possible about wine, beer, cocktails, and food, and share that knowledge with others. But in this case, the only thing I had to offer for hospitality was a line-bypass, a bottle of vodka, and a bag of cocaine. After opening, that was all I had to offer. And everyone wanted it.
I loved the attention, the free bottles when I visited other nightclubs, my ‘VIP’ status. My phone would light up religiously from 7PM to 6AM every single night, 7-days a week. I got a thrill out of bringing rappers and local celebrities in and out of our secret alleyway entrance, bringing people up to my office to blow rails, making everyone feel super important to get nothing back in return. My learning experience within the industry had come to a complete halt and little did I know that I was chipping bricks of my life away.
Thursday night I got the flu. I decided to take a few nights off from work and nurse myself back to life with soup and hot showers. I took a break from using cocaine, but like I said, I was in ‘control’. As my symptoms began to worsen and intensify, I blamed it on my ‘flu’. I was hot and cold, sweating and freezing. My depression consumed me. I was getting further and further knocked down, not knowing how hard it was going to be to climb back up.
On Saturday, as my roommate left for the night, I put on a movie and took a swig of tequila. The darkness came out of nowhere. It smacked me right in the face with 12 half grams of cocaine, 10 Adderall, 3 MDMA capsules, and roughly 10 Clenbuterol. I wanted to die. My heart raced. But, not fast enough. I felt like dying was my only option, I couldn’t live like this anymore. Out of desperation, I called the police and told them there was a man at my address with a loaded firearm. I thought it would be easier if they came and killed me instead. It didn’t take long before half a dozen green lasers (machine guns) and half a dozen red lasers (tasers) were shining through every single window in my apartment. After a 6-hour stand-off ending in an apartment full of broken glass and pepper spray, the Toronto Emergency Task Force drilled a hole in my bedroom wall through which they shot six taser guns at my head and body. My body struggled, my heart stopped.
I was revived once on the stretcher and then once again at the hospital.
I couldn’t formulate sentences, I was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down and had no use of my right hand. It took me just over a week to start walking and talking again. While my physical rehabilitation improved, mentally I still needed to be saved. It was because of the incredible psych team at Western Hospital that I found Narcotics Anonymous. They became my new family. It didn’t take me long to learn that I wasn’t the only one. There are so many others suffering at different degrees, suffering in silence, and I wasn’t going to get any better if I didn’t speak up. That was the first day of my new life, the day that I told myself that I no longer want to die.
November 13, 2017
There was a period of my life where I believed my addiction or my mental illness would kill me, and not necessarily in that order. Needless to say, my old “friends” from that period don’t talk to me anymore. I’ve created the theory that they now fear themselves, or maybe it’s just that they now fear me. I’ve replaced my old cravings and that need for attention, and I've put my focus and energy into my NA meetings. My life has found new meaning. I’ve discovered powerlifting through the help of my personal trainer, Graham Carpio. Together we set small, attainable goals that collectively build into something greater. That is the model that I have applied to my new life. I stay sober by working on myself little by little, day by day. The day is the only unit of time that my head can really wrap around. Seasons change, weeks fluctuate, but the day has a rhythm. The sun goes up; the sun goes down. I can handle that. If I didn’t have my meetings or my gym during my days, I know that my addiction would manifest in other unhealthy ways -- shoes, sex, money, food.
I wake up every morning reminding myself that I need to stay ready for feelings of sadness to creep up on me at any time. I have armed myself with all the weapons to combat the diseases of depression and addiction. Every day I ask myself, how can I be happy today? How can I make other people happy without making myself suffer? How can I be a better person?
A few months away from being two years clean, I’ve never been happier and healthier. Because of my new outlook and the resources that were provided to me, I now have a great job, a strong partner and I’m constantly hitting all of my goals. I no longer suffer in silence. My story might sound insane to many, and trust me sometimes I can’t even grasp it, but it is not as uncommon as society makes us believe. I’ve survived my own demons by talking about my mental health and my addiction, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t others that are suffering in silence at this exact moment. I had to learn that there is no shame in asking for help -- that is what I needed to do to become the man that I am today; that is what I needed to do to survive. Through self-love, mindfulness, meditation, selflessness and fitness I am now combatting this disease with much less of a struggle. Recovery is an ongoing process with good days and bad, but there is a way out. Today is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. It is a day of opportunity for people that have been affected by suicide loss to gather around the world to find support and gain understanding as they share stories of healing and hope. If you are suffering in silence, please, speak up. Reach out for help and use the people around you, use your family, use me. You’re worthy of recovery. You’re worthy of happiness.
Narcotics Anonymous is an international, community-based association of recovering drug addicts with more than 50,000 weekly meetings in over 130 countries. If you are looking for help, you are no longer alone. Call their Toll Free Helpline at 1-888-811-3887, or visit their website to see when the next meeting is occurring in your area.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provide a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. If you are in crisis or you are worried that someone is at risk, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
Daniel Sanchez, a recovering drug addict, is currently in Buenos Aires opening an offshoot of 416 Snack Bar, aptly named 416 Snack Bar. When he’s in Toronto he co-manages the home-base location. His free-time is taken up by his rescue pup, Joni Mitchell, as well as coaching hospitality professionals through fitness classes at Carpio Gym. And of course, NA meetings. He goes to those, too.