September is National Recovery Month and we are highlighting people in our community who are in active recovery from drugs and alcohol.
We spoke to one Bismarck local who struggled with their identity on their road to recovery.
Identity struggles are only one of the reasons alcoholics and addicts turn to substances to cope and for Zayden Bartosh, this was a daily issue and Love was the answer.
“I got drunk for the first time at age 12. I thought this is it. I didn’t have those fears anymore cause fear just came in my life and overtook everything,” says Bartosh.
The fear mainly stemmed from not knowing how to communicate his sexual orientation. Zayden was assigned female at birth and now identifies as non-binary.
“When I found alcohol, the fear was gone,” says Bartosh.
Not knowing how to fully accept one’s identity or sexuality is a major part of Zayden’s story and it’s why he drank. From age 19 to 29, Bartosh says he was in and out of the psych ward so many times medical professionals deemed him a “Frequent Flyer”. After years of treatment and multiple suicide attempts, Zayden found a group that helped love him until he could love himself.
“I’ve hated myself for so many years and those people showed me unconditional love and my mentor who helped me, she wasn’t paid to do that. She was doing it because she loved me and I had never felt that before,” says Bartosh.
Today, Zayden is five-years sober and says it’s because of daily habits he practices. Meditation, music, working out — all these are keys in over all mental wellness and recovery. And he says now, at the end of the day, he knows who he is and he loves himself and that’s what matters.
Zayden says honesty is a key element to maintain sobriety and claiming who he really is was a huge reason why he’s sober today. When he was able to work through those inner struggles everything fell into place.
Part of recovery is service work and giving back. Zayden said he’s part of an organization now that helps young adults and teens who struggle with their identity as he did. His face lit up when he talked about these kids. He says there’s something magical about helping others.