This October Angela Siegmueller will mark seven years of sobriety in Williams Lake.
“It’s been quite the journey,” she said.
At one point her drug habit cost $2,000 a day, which she paid for by being a drug dealer.
“I used fentanyl, Oxycontin, meth, cocaine, crack, Ecstasy every day. I felt like I weighed 600 pounds. I was always in a deep depression,” she recalled, noting her addictions made her weak and powerless because she was chained to them every day.
“I could not enjoy little things.”
Today Siegmueller looks young for 42.
She keeps very active playing soccer, doing aqua fit and working out.
“My pretty came back,” she said with a smile as she posed for a photograph wearing a T-shirt with the words Sobriety Rules across the top in bright colourful glittery letters. “I get good feelings from doing little things, even baking cookies with my grandma.”
When she was 16 she started seeing doctors and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and previously spent about one and half years of her life in the hospital due to manic episodes.
It has been three years, however, since she had an episode.
Having a mental illness was one of the reasons she thinks she used drugs more and more, yet the more she used, the sicker she got.
Drugs no longer made her high, just miserable.
“I used to try and mute feelings, now I deal with them and have learned healthy coping skills.”
Siegmueller grew up in Vernon, moved on to Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver in search of the “high life, bad boys and parties.”
Seven years ago she had an epiphany and realized she had to get clean if she wanted to be able to see her daughter, who is now 14.
“It was time to recover the person that I was,” she recalled.
Fortunately, her father and stepmom invited her to live with them in Williams Lake.
Before she even arrived, her stepmom had already made some appointments for her, including at the Cornerstone Chemical Dependency Clinic.
She tapped into as many services as she could in Williams Lake to recover.
“The support in this town is really great,” she said as she listed her family, councillors, doctors and psychiatrist for all their help along the way. “All of these people and those at Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) were a huge support.”
Wanting to give back, she is now a peer member of the Williams Lake Community Action Team and available to offer support to others battling addictions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic some of the team’s activities have been curtailed, but a focus is to walk around and hand out harm reduction supplies, pool and cinema passes.
“We need more people on the CAT team and more peers with lived experience. I am hopeful I can help bridge the gap and hopefully bring more awareness that there are lots of resources out there.”
Siegmueller said it has been hard work to get where she is, but the driving force has been to not let her daughter down.
“She attended a NA meeting with me last week and said, ‘I forgive you, but I will not forgive you a second time.’”
Tuesday, Aug. 31, is International Overdose Awareness Day set aside to honour people lost to drug overdoses or toxic drugs to reduce the stigma.
Laurel White leads the Community Action Team who is planning an event tentatively at Boitanio Park.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place for groups now in effect until the end of September, the final details on the event were not available by press time, however on Friday White confirmed there will be a walk.