My personal video can be viewed here: Marvin's Video
For over a decade I’ve enjoyed my time as a trainer in Human Resources’ Training & Development. It has been an absolute joy leading LADWP students in classes on leadership, personality styles, generations and the like. I always believed that if you are going to do something, “go all the way”. That philosophy helped me to direct my energy and focus into the classes I taught at the Department. But my life was far from the polished classes I taught. As a matter of fact, I directed my focus in all the wrong places in my life during very chaotic times, and I chose to use heavy substances to cope and deal.
I started working at LADWP when I was 18, but left after 3 years to complete my education and start a career in psychology. I became a case manager at a psychiatric facility in the San Fernando Valley. The work environment was very raw with complicated human emotion, at the same time wildly beautiful in the fact that my clients had a desire to overcome unbelievable traumas. I was their biggest cheerleader during their successes. Likewise I ended up feeling their pain in my own way when they struggled and often failed. To cope, I used marijuana more frequently, which was ironic because I was supposed to help some of my clients through their own addictions. But I said to myself, “this is different, I have things under control, they are the patient – I am the case manager”. The stresses of the job were overwhelming, and I began self-medicating with a very long list of prescription drugs that I had full access to. It was in due time I began making cocktails of alcohol, marijuana and whatever prescription drug I chose to give me a specific affect and mood. I believed I had less and less control of my mood so I needed a variety of drugs to get me to places like calm, sleep, euphoria that I simply forgot how to do on my own.
Ultimately, the psychiatric facility closed due to financial reasons, and I found myself out of the career I fought so hard to achieve for a decade. So I went to my old friend, marijuana – and met new friends cocaine, speed and crystal meth. My world rapidly evolved from associating with brilliant minds and hard-working people to hanging out with drug dealers, narcotic makers and degenerates. I would wake up at 2pm, and have a daily goal of finding coke or speed, where it got to a point where I had an expectation of coke or speed to be there for me before sunset. Soon, I was leading other people down deplorable lives. Those that looked up to me ended up going down very dark paths I couldn’t imagine they went to, even to this day.
I was in my mid-20’s and the only thing I looked forward to in my life was a weekly 1-on-1 therapy session I had every Thursday at 10am in The Valley. That’s the only really good thing I had going for me. In these sessions, I had to come to grips that some things were my fault and some things were not my fault. I had to accept responsibility for my actions. I had to admit to myself that I was the degenerate – not the leader among my circle of friends. I also had to accept the fact that I was abused, something I was in complete denial about. I had to accept the fact that the abuse I endured was not my fault, and that I had to make a real decision on how I was going to confront my abuser.
Ultimately I went cold turkey, but my recovery from substance abuse was only beginning. Because I cut off drug use, I also cut off all the social ties with everyone I engaged in drugs with, including family members. I felt very isolated and became a loner. Again, the only thing I looked forward to was my weekly 1-on-1 therapy sessions in The Valley. But in between each week were feelings of isolation, loneliness, failure and pain. Many times I couldn’t bear another week waiting to see my therapist and I attempted suicide several times. I would often run in front of cars going 40-50 mph, hoping to get hit and end it all. Drivers would brake or swerve away because in California people drive so defensively. It’s at that point where I tried to pick a physical fight with the driver who missed killing me. My mind and spirit was far from healed.
Fortunately no one hit me, and I made it through nearly 3 years of therapy sessions, taking each day one at a time. In between each session I slowed down my pace and stopped running in front of cars. Instead I went on long walks and hikes anywhere between 3-8 hours a day. Each walk I took 1 step at a time. One step at a time turned into a day at a time, turned into a week at a time and to this writing turned into 19 years and 9 months of clearer-headedness and drug free living. It wasn’t easy, and was very isolating. That feeling of isolation is something I wouldn’t want anyone to ever experience. Hopefully I could be there to help a DWP brother or sister who might be going through something similar. I could have become a successful suicide and can’t imagine how that would have affected the people who cared about me that I just couldn’t see during the tumultuous time in my life. Thanks for reading my story.