Shame and depression were normal feelings for Shealana. As a child, life taught her to believe she was worthless. She first turned to alcohol as a way to numb the pain of incomprehensible tragedies she faced growing up. With little hope, her life lacked purpose and direction.
“I was 13 when my older sister went to prison and life got complicated,” said Shealana. “I fell into a deep depression, dropped out of school, and moved in with a friend. At 16, I was smoking pot and drinking every day.”
She tried to fill her life with typical things—seven years of marriage, three children, and different jobs working here and there—but deep-seated issues were festering inside. Layers of trauma and grief, she tried to keep buried with alcohol, were triggered when the father of her children was tragically killed. It sent her on a downward spiral, and in 2006, she lost custody of her kids.
“I tried to get my life back on track when I gave birth to Noah,” said Shealana. “We lived with my mom and was her caregiver until she died. Grief is nothing you can prepare for. I knew she had cancer for a year and a half. Despite a mastectomy, it took her life on Good Friday of last year. I was overcome with grief. I was drinking more every day.”
Shortly after her mom died, Shealana received an eviction notice giving she and Noah 30 days to move out. “We were living with my mom and suddenly we had no place to live and nowhere to go. My mom had always been my rock. Without her, I was lost. I started drinking heavily and abusing my anxiety medication.”
A lethal combination of alcohol and Xanax led to an accidental overdose. “I wouldn’t be here if a neighbor had not knocked on our door. When Noah, who was four at the time, opened the door, our neighbor realized something was wrong. Had he not called 911, I’m sure I would be dead.”
Shealana doesn’t remember the life-flight to the hospital. She remembers waking up feeling afraid, scared, confused, frightened—but grateful. “I knew right then, things had to change. I had to change. I love Noah, and I didn’t want to lose him, too. So, I started looking for help. A friend told me about Nashville Rescue Mission. I called and a few days later, Noah and I were walking through the doors.”
She admits that first day was terrifying. She had no idea what to expect. “On day seven I called my sister. When I told her I was happy, and I felt safe and cared for, she cried. Neither of us could ever remember a time when I could have said I was happy.”
“I believe it was God’s will for us to come to the Mission. It’s been such a blessing to me and to Noah.” In the Mission’s Life Recovery Program, Shealana worked with counselors who helped her process the pain of her past. “I feel safe here. I’ve grown closer to the Lord. I feel His presence and know this is right where we need to be,” says Shealana. “I’m so thankful for Nashville Rescue Mission.”