The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest



How I found hope
Senior Zia Carter stands Sept. 5 in Room 151.

Her excitement was obvious.

I took hold of the hot pink pipe.

She led me through her apartment’s clubhouse. I was taken to a white wire lawn chair, shaded from the sun by an alley overhang. At this seat, another friend of hers and I had a staring contest. At this seat, she and I laughed, dazed by our high.

It was the answer to my curiosity. With her guidance, my leftover worries burned away with the 10-dollar gram. It was only curiosity. Then, it was community. And access made sure I was always tempted. These things kept me close to drugs, even after I was sober.


Around a year later, 13-year-old me read the bedroom walls covered in writing. The lights were off, but a purple hue from somewhere was enough. She and her friends’ quiet snores filled the silent bedroom. Tabs still stuck to my tongue.

My mind wouldn’t let me sleep off what I took. Every thought was loud and constant and paralyzing. But I was desperately yearning – learning – to move.

It’s cold, but I already had my coat on. I was thirsty, but every sip of the off-brand 7UP went right through me. I was starving, but we only had hot fries. I’m convinced one of her friends, maybe all of them, are awake, and that terrifies me. It means they’re awake watching me.

At this moment, I learned that I can’t save myself.

Breaking, drowning, I looked to her.

And she was sleeping. It dawned on me that I wouldn’t have felt comfortable telling her what I was going through, even if she was awake. What would she do? She wouldn’t even bother to try and save me.

Despair consumes me when no one else comes to mind. Except for one forgotten God.

My eyes landed on a magnet we had been playing with. One side read, “Come in, I’m clean!”

I recounted how the people at church did it, with their heads bowed and knees to the ground. So I did the same. The lie on the magnet made me cry, but she and her friends might be watching so I sobbed silently. Tears landed softly on the carpet an inch below my eyes.

I know I’m not but–

Terrified, I whisper, “Please.”

Not until two years later did anything actually click.

I never stopped daydreaming about one last high or the community I used to have. But I had no access because she and I weren’t friends anymore.

So what time I would’ve spent with her, I spent learning about God instead. In prayer, I heard Him respond to me. I learned that His voice was soft, loving, and understandable.

Still, I wasn’t fully committed.

Then the dissociation, something my therapist said the drugs almost solely caused, became worse. There were times when I didn’t recognize my brother’s face. Other times, my hand. At its toughest, I couldn’t determine whether anything was real, or if I was in some simulation. Or worse–nothing at all.

Ironically, the invisible God became the most real to me then. When nothing was real, He was.

Still, I wasn’t fully committed.

Until that night in June at a youth retreat, after worship was already over and hot pizza was brought out. I moved myself to the bathroom because I wasn’t ready to move on. Everything I’d been searching for was finally at my fingertips–no more dissociation, no more ties to my past–and I almost had it.

A verse from the book of James echoed in my head,

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him ”

So I did. I lifted my face from my hands and walked into the room I had just stepped out of, where I knew my youth pastors were.

And I asked for prayer.

I was delivered from dissociation that night.

I stopped wanting to take drugs that night.

I learned that there is always hope that night. No matter the darkness.

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