The Story of My Survival

Sharon Lee Crouse is what I was named on April 17, 1975. I grew up in New Jersey with hard-working parents and two older siblings. I had a happy childhood, but as I got older, things started to change. By the age of 12, I started smoking marijuana. Although I was smoking in high school, I made sure I graduated. I had my first child, Kyla, at the age of 19 followed by my second, Ralph, at the age of 23. Soon after the birth of Ralph, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder and severe depression. I began taking prescribed medication, but it only made matters worse. I began isolating myself from my family and locking myself in my bedroom, which led to an even deeper depression.

I began self-medicating with pain pills, prescription stimulants, and cocaine. I spent more time high and in my bedroom than I spent with my family. By the age of 30, my ex-husband introduced me to crystal meth. For the next 15 years, I was in denial about my addiction. I didn’t want any help, even after numerous pleas from my children. My ex-husband played a huge role in my addiction because he was my supplier. I was so deep into my addiction that I didn’t know who I was. I went from having a functional household to having a dysfunctional household with no water, food, or electricity because of my addiction. I even used my son’s phone to set up dates with different men to support my addiction. I became suicidal and was admitted into different mental health facilities. I eventually became homeless.

January 4, 2020, was the last day I used. January 5, 2020, is the day I finally accepted help. I checked myself into a short-term rehab facility in New Jersey. By the end of January, I was transferred to a long-term facility in Wilmington and resided there until August when I graduated from the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center. I moved into Friendship House Transitional Housing on August 31, 2020, and I started as a recovering addict, eager to take back everything I had lost. My journey was not easy, but I had new realistic goals that I set for myself and a strong support system. Shawn and Danielle played a major part in my recovery. They accepted me with open arms and treated me like family. I will forever be grateful. Shawn helped me get a job at the Clothing Bank where I was introduced to Ms. Cheryl and Timeeka; both great women who motivate me even more. Not only did Timeeka train me as an employee, but she also helped me learn to love myself and know my worth. Ms. Cheryl always keeps a positive attitude that I grew to love and she saw my potential long before I did. I believe everything happens for a reason and the time I spent with Shawn and Danielle brought out the best in me.

I, Sharon D’Antonio, am proud to announce that I am 15 months clean as of April 5, 2021!

Friendship House got me thriving instead of surviving! I’m enjoying every minute of it. Sometimes I wonder where I would be without the support of my children and Friendship House and then I realize I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here to share my story. My children have forgiven me and we have a great relationship. I just recently started thanking myself because without my mistakes, addiction, and struggles, I wouldn’t have met the wonderful people in my life today.

Sharon D’Antonio

4 Comments on "The Story of My Survival"

  • Sharon,
    Thank you for your powerful testimony. Your ability to share your story of your changed life will be used to reach those who are still struggling. Others will identify with your struggles, sharing our past can promote healing. Keep going forward!!!

  • Beautiful — God bless you. He loves all.

  • I have had depression for 30+ years, my sister has depression, my mother had bipolar disorder, my father and maternal grandmother had depression. Medication is great when it works, but so often it doesn’t work at all, lessens symptoms but doesn’t get rid of them, or stops working at some point so you need something else. As you know very well, it isn’t “here, take this pill,” and you’re magically well. My dad’s depression came out as unpredictable rage — he never hit us, but he did throw things, and I, at least, was always waiting for it to get worse. I’m sure you know now that when you took drugs, you were most likely trying to dull the symptoms of your bipolar disorder, which wasn’t treated properly to begin with. And when you have a mental illness, and your meds aren’t working well, it is monumentally difficult to believe you CAN feel better and that you DESERVE to feel better, much less tell your doctor those things. Easier to blame yourself, tell yourself you’re not trying hard enough. My point: I truly, truly hope you have forgiven yourself. The beginning of this was never your fault, and you are unbelievably strong to turn it around and climb out of it. You rock!

  • Sharon thank you for sharing your stuggles with mental illness and drug addiction. I IDENTIFY with your story!!! I’m 62 and homeless. I just emailed Friendship House about shelters and possibly transitional housing. My last drug use was heroin on Monday June 21, 2021. It is virtually impossible for me to get housing because I am a FELON!

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