“Typically paranoid tweaker delusions are that they are out to get me,” Charles describes, recounting his drug induced psychosis before he once again entering a 72 hour suicide watch. Since he was 18 years old, Charles A. has taken 5 round trips through psych wards. At that age, he was willingly living in his car for 6 months, smoking meth regularly, trying (yet failing) to get into Santa Monica College, and “leaching off [his] parents.” Charles’ mental health was decaying by the day.
Charles was constantly suffering from both visual and auditory hallucinations. His mind was playing tricks on him and he didn’t know what to do. In his head, the world was out to get him. Charles was running around barefoot, passing out on buses, and waking up in random parts of Los Angeles. He was often completely unaware of where he was in the city. One day, after hearing the voice of Morgan Freeman narrating his life, Charles crawled into the backseat of a stranger’s car. The stranger pulled him out of the car and punched him, leaving him with a bloody nose. His hallucinations only got worse from there.
Like for many of us, it was very difficult for Charles to pull himself out of his downward spiral. Luckily, he started inching his way out of the hole before becoming a danger to himself or others. He did this through honestly attempting to speak with his higher power, even though he was still unaware of what that truly meant to him. “I almost killed someone,” Charles recalls. He started to care more about harming this stranger than he did about how he was already harming his own family. This revelation shocked and deeply hurt Charles to his core. This was three years ago and it gave him the strength to never do meth again. Unfortunately, other drugs were still on the table…and on the mirror…and on the foil.
Fortunately, Charles had learned about Beit T’Shuvah in his sophomore year of high school. He was in Jewish religious studies at Temple Isaiah, and BTS’s prevention program came to visit his class. He remembers how cool it was, but he was already smoking weed and didn’t care much on a personal level. Josh R. of the BTS Prevention Program would occasionally meet with Charles and try to get him to quit smoking weed, but the roots of addiction had already taken hold. Thankfully, he eventually made the choice to join our lovely community.
Recovery has been a difficult, yet tremendous help for Charles. He has seen significant growth arriving at BTS. He has participated in the film and music programs, even getting an internship in the latter. He even performed a comedy set during our annual stand-up comedy show. With the help of Beit T’Shuvah’s take on faith based recovery and artistic expression, Charles recently found the confidence to release a music video under his artist name “The Lonely Spirit.”
Originally, Charles thought, as many of us do, that he needed to be perfect and leave BTS completely healed. Nowadays, he understands that was an unrealistic goal, but yet feels that the sky’s the limit. He has many aspirations in the performing arts: filmmaking, acting, writing, being a stand-up comedian, being a musician, and being a music producer. He even wishes to be a research scientist, but knows that he has much more experience in the entertainment industry, at this point. For now, though, he’s focused on moving out comfortably and being able to support himself. He also strives to be in a position where he can keep giving back to BTS in whatever way he can. Through the work he’s done at Beit T’Shuvah and in his 12-step program, Charles now knows that he can achieve further growth than he’s ever experienced before. He is no longer the barefooted man hallucinating on the streets of Los Angeles. Nowadays, the only thing Charles sees is community.