My name is James Giles and this is a testimony of my life. I started using drugs and inhalants at the age of 14. I used them to escape the problems of my life so I wouldn’t have to think about how messed up my life really was. I didn’t really understand at the time how serious it was and that there was a different way of dealing with my problems.
I started out using because it made me feel that if I was having hard times, I could use and it felt good just to get out of all the chaos and frustrations. Yes, it felt good, and then it started taking control of me. I had to use more and more to keep that feeling.
Then after awhile, I started having what I would call “trips,” but in reality they were hallucinations; some at first were good ones and then later on they became bad — very bad, as in I started thinking I was seeing the end of the world and that I was invincible. In reality, it was the paint huffing and doing drugs that was causing this. Remember this, none of these things was real, but at that time, I truly believed they were.
My family and friends caught on to what was going on and they tried to help, but at that time I didn’t think I had a problem. Well, several years down the road I started getting in trouble — a lot of fights, a lot of going to jail, plus a lot of broken bridges with family and friends.
To be honest, I spent 18 years going through this, but, “No, I didn’t have a problem; everyone else had the problem!”
Then one day I realized I was all alone. It was the middle of winter with about 6 inches of snow on the ground and it was about 32 degrees outside and I was staying under a bridge. I’d been there for a week. Only God knows how I survived — no food, no water, no money and no one to turn to.
That’s when I turned to trying rehab programs. Well, I went to just about all of them in Tennessee and a couple in Kentucky. Did I use the rehab? Yes, for the shelter and food and whatever else I could get other than working the programs. You see, I still thought I could do this and still get high. I was very selfish and alone. I tried to get clean and no one wanted to deal with me anymore because everyone had learned my routine.
After being alone for so long, I started craving things I had all along, like time with family, friends and relationships, but I kept throwing them away for a high. Then I hit rock bottom — no money, no drugs, no paint and no one to go to. I got so depressed, so down and out, and feeling so sorry for myself that I gave up. I found one person who thought they were helping me out and gave me some money.
Now here is the part where I thought I knew how to fix my problem. I would just end my life and be done with it. I went to Walmart and got me some stuff to get high on and then went out in the country. I climbed a power tower and sat up on the top of it, got high, read some of the Bible and then asked God to have mercy on my soul after I did this.
I jumped and on the way down, somehow I got bounced around inside the thing several times, then came to on the ground, woke up and tried to get up and couldn’t.
I woke up a couple of days later in the hospital, and boy, the jump had done a number on me. I broke both ankles, fractured the third lumbar vertebrae in my back, broke my orbital socket and my left eye popped out of the socket.
My mother and grandmother were standing over me crying and that’s when it hit me — not only was I hurting myself, but I was destroying my loved ones, friends and family. That’s when it was time to get real with myself.
You see, the things you do in this life don’t just affect you. The many nights my family, friends and loved ones were wondering if there was going to be a knock on the door saying Jim is dead, in jail or has killed someone. How do you think my family and loved ones felt? Well, today I know how they felt, and what I put them and myself through.
So please take this for what it is worth. It is not worth all this just to escape for a couple of hours. Life is worth living and sharing with the people who love you and yes, sometimes we take that for granted, but we are only human.
Today I am clean. I have a relationship with my family and a very good woman who loves me. I also got my high school diploma and work with the GRAAB Coalition which stands for “Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors.” So if I can make it through just this one testimony I shared with you, and yes, there is a lot more I could share, but not enough paper or time to write it.
Just take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself from reading my story, “Is this what you want?” The drug life isn’t worth dying for, but to have a real life to enjoy and share, plus to be free, is!
(Editor’s Note: James Giles will be a presenter at a free community forum, “Why Don't They Just Quit?” on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Hiwassee Mental Health Center. Contact David Webb at HMHC for details at 423-643-9279.)