Stories of Transformation: Chelsea D.

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chelsea d mountainside alumni sitting on rock next to lake
  • Sobriety Date: 8/19/2017
  • Loving Mother
  • Wellness Enthusiast
  • Certified Recovery Coach


After losing her boyfriend to an overdose, Chelsea wanted to get sober but didn’t know how. Her family helped her get into Mountainside, where she immediately felt safe and loved. Through her dedication, Chelsea worked on becoming honest with herself, mending her relationships, and now has a life in recovery she never thought was possible.  

Hi, I’m Chelsea. I’m an alumni at Mountainside. There were many events that led me to Mountainside. It was 7 years of my life that I had just dragged myself through the darkness. I had lost many of my friends and unfortunately, that wasn’t even enough to bring me into treatment.

To be honest, I had warrants out for drug-related charges. I was running for years from that and then unfortunately I lost my boyfriend. He had passed away from an overdose and it was something that was unbearable I knew that I had to get help.

So I ended up going to treatment. I have gone to a couple of state-funded rehabs and they are located in Hartford. I would go in and just detox and my insurance wouldn’t cover 30 days. They wouldn’t send me up for 30 days. So I would just be there for seven days and detox and be let out into the streets of Hartford, and I just instantly would go back to my routine of using.

You know, it’s state-funded. So it’s just, “Here’s some methadone and you’ll be fine.” They don’t care about you. They don’t take care of you. They don’t care that you’re going through withdrawals. They don’t pay attention to you.

I was coming up on the one year of my ex passing away. And I just knew that I couldn’t keep using on the anniversary of that one year.

chelsea d mountainside alumni with mother

I reached out to my family and obviously, I didn’t have a good relationship with my family during all those years, but they were very willing to help me.

We reached out to all of those same places I had been to and every single one told us the same thing: “We have a two to four week waitlist, but we can put your daughter on it.” That’s what they kept telling my dad. My parents just kept telling them that she was not going to make it because, at that point, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make it a week.

So to wait two to four weeks to possibly have a bed, I wouldn’t have made it that long. Then we went through my insurance and Mountainside came up. My dad called them and they were very willing to help. They said to bring her tomorrow — like we don’t care about anything. No situation. Like we just want her to come tomorrow.

And it was very scary because I figured I still had another two to four weeks to do whatever I wanted to do so for them to just — I think he just poured his heart out to them and explained my situation and that I wasn’t gonna make it if I waited — They instantly were like, come tomorrow morning, which was beautiful. Scary but beautiful.

Personally, when I first walked in, it was very scary because I knew I was ready, but it was finally happening. Every single person from when I walked into the door to the front desk was so loving. The person who brought me into the detox area was loving, every single person. They didn’t look at me like they were judging me. They didn’t look at me like I was disgusting. I mean I was this tiny little person.

I was barely hanging on to life and every single person was just very loving and caring, and it was appreciated.

What made me feel welcome was that I felt I could actually do it because I didn’t feel instantly judged or looked down upon for who I was. Everybody was accepting. In previous places, I had never had a clinician or a therapist, and nobody ever talked to me.

chelsea d mountainside alumni

So the experience at Mountainside was very different. I don’t know how they pair people with clinicians, but I feel like every single clinician was made for that person. So the woman that I got was just really, really amazing. She was very understanding.

The whole time I was there she helped me work through my grieving process, which I never did.

I just decided to keep using substances throughout my grief. So I never really had the chance to process it. She worked with me very hard on that. I really appreciated that.

She did art therapy and music therapy with me and kept on pushing me to stay there and continue doing what I had to do because I was relearning myself and refinding myself. All the activities were things that I had never done. Like the ropes course, flying through the air, camping trips, acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. Every single thing I had never done before, but I needed it.

I never knew that I needed it until it was offered to me, and some of those things I’ve continued in my life now.

They ended up offering me to have my family come and meet with a separate therapist and to work together like family time. I took advantage of that. And I think that was the healing point of me and my mother in that moment. I don’t think if I ever did that I wouldn’t have her right now.

She thought she lost me, she thought I was gone. And then when she saw me there, she said that she looked into my eyes and she could see her daughter again. Just that therapy session with her was the most open with her and myself I’ve ever been. All the things that I lied about for so many years, I laid it all out on the table for her so that she knew exactly what I had been through and what I was doing.

I gave the truth because I was gone for so long. Honestly, when I left there I was completely in it. Like I was ready to go fully into my recovery. Everything that I had at Mountainside, I loved it so much that I just wanted to take it with me.

chelsea d mountainside alumni with daughter

The only way that I could do that was going to meetings because I went to the meetings there and they were just every single time something hit me and it resonated with me. So I know that if I continue to do that outside of Mountainside, it would be the most helpful thing.

I did go to meetings for 2 years religiously because that’s what helped. I practiced positive like self-affirmations, and positive self-talk because I was doing that there every day in the mirror since that’s what my counselor had told me to do. Honestly, I thought it was so stupid in the beginning but it truly helped me change the view of myself that I had.

It’s six years later and I still talk to myself in the mirror. Just positive things, you know, because even now being six years into recovery, nobody’s perfect and people do not completely love themselves or like what they see.

You have to be kind to yourself and be gentle. I learned that in Mountainside.

My life is so different. Now I’m a mother in recovery. I have a three-year-old daughter, and next to my sobriety, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done in life. I’m grateful that she never has to see me in the light that I was in six years ago. It’s just the most beautiful thing. There’s nothing better than being a mother.

My life has changed so much and I would have never had any of this if I didn’t get sober. So I went and got my recovery coaching certificate so that I could help others. I bought a house, who would have thought that I could buy a house? It’s so weird. It’s weird to just have a normal life that you never, ever thought you would have. It’s beautiful and every day I wake up and I can’t believe this is my life because that’s not what I saw from myself. It’s a lot.

chelsea d mountainside alumni with daughter

It’s a lot to handle knowing that my life could have been completely different, but I decided to make the choice to change everything and turn it around. I only did that to get sober and then all the things that came with it like being a mother and having a full-time job, a car, and a house, are things that I never, ever thought I would have.

I was working as an RSS in sober living for mothers in recovery and seeing those mothers in recovery and knowing that it’s hard. Basically, it’s a rehab for pregnant mothers. It changed my outlook on a lot of things. But I went ahead and got my recovery coach certification so that I can further my knowledge because I just want to give back.

So many people from Mountainside gave me so much and like if I could I do that not just as a human being in recovery, but if I could be certified in doing it, that was my goal.

You’re worth it and just don’t give up on yourself because life isn’t always going to be the way it is right now.

Life gets better and I know that sounds so cliche and stuff, but they always say, “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.” I love that because it’s true. In early recovery, you’re like, “Oh, that’s so stupid.” But once you actually continue to live a sober life, it does get better and it’s the most beautiful thing. You just have to give yourself the opportunity to have that life. And give yourself a chance.

chelsea d mountainside alumni family

As Mountainside celebrates 25 years in service to the recovery community, we will be highlighting stories from alumni, their family members, and Mountainside staff, whose own paths to recovery inform and inspire the work we do each day. Be sure to check our 25th Anniversary page for new stories every month.

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