My name is Jay Insalaco. I am a husband, father of two beautiful children, and a public worker. Life wasn’t always like this. Here’s my story of how freed control was my insanity. In 1995, when I was 19, I started going to a rave club in New York City called “the tunnel”. At this club I was introduced to the drug known to many as ecstasy. Up until this point in my life I was smoking cigarettes, marijuana and drinking alcohol. I went to “the tunnel” for three weeks straight at one point.
These three weeks would change my life, forever. I can remember the first Friday taking ecstasy and finally feeling free. I felt like I could finally be myself. One with myself, everyone at the club, and with the rest of the world. Freed control was my insanity. By the third Friday I had taken so many drugs that I literally saw a flash of light; blinding before my eyes. After that moment everything was connected. Thoughts were coming into my mind faster and faster. There was no time for sleep. I went five days without sleep and insanity was running wild. I felt like I was experiencing when Jesus walking the earth. I felt like I knew all the answers to the mysteries of the world. I felt like I was sent here to save the world. This is when my boss stepped in and took me to the hospital to be evaluated. He…saved my life.
After my evaluation my journey began. I was dual diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 as well as addiction to drugs and alcohol. I was taken to a room as my belt and my shoelaces were taken. I was told to go into the room and take a seat. I might have been in that room for a couple of hours when my mom and my sister arrived in tears. My mom had no idea that I was doing all these drugs. Her heart was broken, devastated, shattered! I can remember moments later a few men coming into the room and strapping me down to a gurney. I was given an injection then put into an ambulance to be transported to a different hospital with a rehabilitation center. Freed control was my insanity.
In April 1995, I was introduced to mental illness and twelve-step programs. I was told that recovery was going to be a way of life forever. One day at a time. Sounds easy but believe me it’s not. When I went through the first hospitalization and rehab, I felt like I was in purgatory. A lost soul between heaven and hell; defeated. How was I supposed to live with this sentence? I had to change people, places, and things associated with everything I was doing at the age of 19. I felt alone. A castaway.
For the next seven years I had accepted my addictions staying drug and alcohol free. I did it by working the steps in the 12 step program. I followed all the suggestions, I found a sponsor, and went to meetings. As for my mental illness…I couldn’t accept it. I spent from 1995-2002 going in and out of hospitals and outpatient programs. I was miserable because of having to take medication and having to be compliant in a treatment plan. I couldn’t face the fact that this was my life. I felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter that screamed mental illness. I was afraid of the stigma. I was afraid of being judged. How was I ever going to be accepted with my mental illness? It took a special person to accept me for me.
It was in April of 2002 when I met Tracy. The eerie part is that it was seven years to the day that I saw the big flash in “the tunnel” which changed my life forever. I met Tracy in a club where we both went separately with friends to see a band called Subcommittee. One of Tracy’s friends worked with one of my friends and that’s how we met. We danced all night. At the end of the night we exchanged phone numbers and two days later had our first date. Two weeks went by and I had to let her into my world. I had to tell her about my dual diagnosis. I was on the phone with her and I said, “Tracy, I have something to tell you. I’m a recovering addict and I have bipolar disorder”. There was some silence and she said, “I wish I was there right now. I want to give you a big hug.” This is when the self acceptance of my mental illness started. It stemmed from this wonderful woman accepting me for me. From this point of my life on I just wanted to be better.
In 2005, I got a job in the town I was living in. I started working for the Department of Public Works. At this point, me and Tracy have been dating for three years and were talking about getting married. In 2006, we got married. In 2007, my daughter Grace was born. In 2008, we bought a house. In 2010, my son Jameson was born. My life finally knew peace.
In November 2011, I created InstinctiveBird. It started as a project to eradicate my own personal stigma on mental illness and addiction. I gave the stigma power and control. It was time to accept myself and take away the fear. I started by making videos. Then I self published my book “No More Crutch”. Soon after I joined the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Through NAMI, I was trained as an “In Our Own Voice” (IOOV) speaker to educate and eradicate stigma. On my website I have a blog, forum, and network created for open communication about mental health and addiction. Join me on your journey, visit InstinctiveBird.com
Here’s a writing from my book “No More Crutch”:
How far can sanity be pushed?
Edge of no control.
Is there a limit to control?
Who’s the judge of sanity?
I don’t know, you tell me.
The control you have has no effect on me.
Freed control is my insanity.
Insanity running wild,
Purity of a little child.
Given back for a little while,
I think I’ll go the extra mile.
Push the limit,
Sort the mess.
I like it better I must confess.
Boundaries are set,
Sadness is low.
Wind me up,
Watch me go.
Limitless control breakdown within me,
Freed control is my insanity.
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