Phillip Rossa.,

Manteno, Illinois

My name is Phillip, and this is my story.

My story began with going through typical childhood stress and severe anxiety. I was bullied a lot and as a result, I didn’t want to go to school. This went on for years. When I was in the eighth grade, my father and I had a horrible argument. I thought he was having a heart attack, even though he wasn’t. I still thought otherwise and I tried to harm myself. When I was 15, my father passed away in front of my mom. His death hit me hard because we were so very close.

I suffered with anxiety all of my life. When I turned 17, I was getting severe headaches and no doctor could figure out why. Now I am aware that they are tension headaches from my mental health disorders and medical complications. At 17, my family doctor prescribed me Vicodin and Norco. My mom was in a nursing home, and he would give me prescriptions in both my mom’s name and mine. I would meet him outside every other day for a new prescription. This went on from 1999 to 2013. He stopped being my doctor in 2006 and cut me off cold turkey.

From 2000 until 2013, I experienced homelessness off and on. I would get pain pills from different doctors and from my mom from the nursing home. In 2008, I found a doctor that gave me Dilaudid, and I learned to shoot up the Dilaudid. I lost him a year later because he dropped me as a patient, so my mom helped me with my addiction to prevent me from experiencing withdrawal. I know, I sound like son of the year, huh?

In 2012, I found a pain specialist who gave me Dilaudid and fentanyl patches. I was in heaven. It wasn’t until 2013 that I kept running out and was unable to get pills from my mother’s nursing home that I finally woke up and had enough. I stopped cold turkey, and it was horrible. I’m 41 now, and I still have Fibromyalgia and all my other illnesses.

“Every day is a struggle, but I know I can make it. I got off the pills, the streets, and I’m making a life for myself regardless of my chronic pain.”

I’m about to have surgery on my neck. I plan on not getting hooked again, not only for myself but for my best friends that turned family, and especially for Melissa, the love of my life for over two years who has stuck by me through it all. She makes me want to be a better person. I really love her. She really knows how to make a man think. I dedicate this to Melissa and my mother, Christine, who passed away in 2014. Every day is a struggle, but I know I can make it. I got off the pills, the streets, and I’m making a life for myself regardless of my chronic pain.