It was December 2015 when Isabella first started using ice – the first anniversary of her son’s
“I had no idea how much it would destroy my life,” the 23-year-old tells me.
“I knew about drugs, but you never know how addictive they are until you’re stuck in a world where you rely on them to do simple daily things.”
Isabella only remembers small parts of the life she lived while high. It mostly felt like someone else’s life, and hearing stories from the time makes her question everything. Wow, really? She’d think. That doesn’t sound like something I’d do. Except it was.
Ice took away Isabella’s thoughts—that’s why she did it so often; so she wouldn’t have to live in the now, and think about all the hardships she’d been through.
“It made my mind happy, so I must have been happy, right?”
It took away her speech and communication skills.
“I could barely talk or put sentences together. I would mumble a lot, and wouldn’t look at people’s faces," she says.
Isabella isolated herself and tried to not communicate with anyone face-to- face, aside from other users. Her only form of contact with the outside world was through text or Facebook—where they couldn’t see or hear her.
The South Australian woman spent thousands and thousands of dollars on ice. She would work, but only to supply her dangerous habit.
“I was making so much money. All of it went on drugs. Who needed a house when you had your pipe?”
Before the drug, Isabella lived comfortably in a four-bedroom home full of furniture and beautiful clothes. She had a beautiful dog and a great job. Ice took everything—all she now has from her life before is $30,000 of debt.
Isabella couldn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. If friends and family forced her to eat, she would stick her fingers down her throat to throw it up—her body wasn’t used to it. She didn’t even think of food. She would stay awake thinking about nothing. Absolutely nothing. If she wasn’t out looking for her next hit or partying, she was in bed sucking down a pipe.
Of course, the body needs food. Isabella began passing out. Once, she woke up laying on her coffee table. She couldn’t move for half an hour, not even to call someone to come help her.
But an addict will never admit they are addicted.
Looking back, Isabella knew she had a serious problem when she wouldn’t get out of bed unless there was a pipe in her mouth. She wouldn’t leave the house without a pipe in her handbag.
“The drug clouds your thoughts. You don’t think you have a problem until you’re actually clean.”
She began to get creative with her excuses for the effects of ice. If someone mentioned how thin she was, she’d tell them she’d been working out a lot. If someone asked if she’d slept, she’s say she’d gotten up early to catch up on work or go for a run. If someone mentioned she needed to eat, or that she’d lost weight, Isabella would tell them it was none of their business—or tell them they had gained weight to make them feel bad for making her feel bad.
Isabella was 20 years old—and she only weighed 37kg.
She wore a size 4, but would wear two pairs of tights underneath so her clothes wouldn’t fall down. She wore baggy clothes, so people wouldn’t see each individual rib, or her spine, which jutted out so prominently.
Listen: Cameron Daddo speaks about life with addiction. (Post continues...)
She lost a lot of friends and family. She doesn’t blame them one bit for turning their backs on her.
Eventually, she wasn’t welcome. All she had were drugs, and friends who did drugs.
“Remember, drug friends are not real friends.”
Isabella did unspeakable things to get her next hit—things she isn’t willing to share with the world, only that she now has a criminal record from her past.
Slowly, but surely, ice was killing Isabella.
She developed skin infections. Her hair fell out in chunks. Her arms, legs and face were covered in scabs she’d pick at. Her body couldn’t fight off infections, and she was often in hospital with tubes up her nose and in her stomach. To this day, Isabella can’t eat sweets, lollies or desserts due to the holes in her teeth.
“I was breaking my family’s hearts. My mother was so sick from not knowing if each time she hugged me would be the last.
“They would cry. They would beg, but as long as I had meth, I didn’t care one bit.”
It all started from one occasional social hit one morning—and from then, she couldn’t stop. Until she took a pregnancy test.
The entire Earth stood still. Two little pink lines, and a world of change. Isabella stopped, and began to cry. She put the pipe down. And she didn’t pick it back up again.
But she was afraid—oh, so afraid—that she’d lose the baby, or ruin the child’s life. She was eight weeks pregnant, and that night, Isabella decided no matter what, she would keep this baby.
“My daughter saved my life. She saved me from killing myself from this addiction. She is my hero. She is my world. She is my everything.”
The come downs were excruciating. Months of cold sweats, shaking and vomiting. At one stage,
Isabella cuddled the toilet for four entire days, while friends held her hair and fed her. But she knew she had to do it—her daughter’s life depended on it.
“I may have given her life, but she gave me my life back the moment I tested positive with her.”
The journey has been far from easy. Some days, Isabella thinks one pipe won’t hurt.
Temptation hit her most the week her father took his own life. He too had been addicted to the drug, and had taken his own life from the paranoia. But no matter how hard it got, Isabella didn’t relapse. She had a beautiful little girl who would cuddle up to her and keep her strong, and a father watching down over her from heaven.
“Nothing will ever make me relapse. Nothing will ever make me risk losing the little girl who gave me my life back.”
Many said Isabella wouldn’t handle motherhood—that she would destroy her daughter’s life and
bring her into a world of pain. But Isabella is a firm advocate that junkies can change, and reformed addicts deserve a chance at life, too.
“Some are lucky enough to win the fight. Some sadly go insane and don’t. We need to speak up. If you’re going through addiction, you are not alone. With help and support, you can get through it, exactly like I did.”
Isabella has been clean for nearly three years, and life has never been better. She plans on going back to university later this year, and becoming a paramedic.
“I am blessed every day. My life is amazing.”
And it’s all because of one little girl.
Her name is Mackenzie.