This was left as an anonymous message in our ask box, by someone doing a research project on mental health. They asked that you please do not claim it as your own.
Q: For people who don’t know your story, could you tell us a little about your past… List the things you dealt with?
Josh: For a long time, I dealt with depression, which I guess started pretty young for me… I don’t know exactly how old or anything, but at the latest, early teens I guess. That probably caused a lot of my other issues later in life really. Uh, my main issue, I think was my heroin addiction which lasted for about 2 years before I went to treatment for it. Umm, I also dealt with bulimia, and for a short period of time anorexia.
Q: Wow, I didn’t realize you went through so much. Were your family and friends aware of all of this?
Josh: You’d be surprised how many people you probably know that are dealing with a lot of similar issues. If you don’t want people knowing, it’s easy enough to hide honestly, and I think that’s one of the main reasons so many people get stuck in these disorders, because no one can really tell until you’re in too deep.
Q: I guess that’s true. What was your family life like… Did your home life cause any of your problems do you think?
Josh: No, my family is actually really supportive and loving. A lot of people have these stories of like, abuse and stuff, and that causes their problems, and then a lot of people have great lives and family and friends and still end up with issues. It’s just the makeup of your brain I guess.
Q: That makes sense. So which of your problems I guess we’ll call them, came first?
Josh: like I said, my depression I think started when I was really young. ‘Cause it has to do with chemical imbalances in the brain, so it’s not like you can gain depression… You either have it or you don’t, it just depends when it’s going to start affecting you. So that was first, and shortly after I started to be affected by it… feeling it anyway, I started self-harming.
Q: Self-harming as in cutting yourself, yeah?
Josh: Yeah. I think I forgot to list that at the beginning, sorry.
Q: No problem. Self-harming is a big problem in teens nowadays, would you agree?
Josh: Yeah, from what I see, there are so many kids doing it now, it’s really sad. It can really mess you up, because you start to believe you deserve it, and no one really deserves that.
Q: So why do people do it? Could you tell us a bit about why you did… what it did for you?
Josh: Umm, *laughter*. Yeah, sorry. I don’t know, I guess uh, for me anyway, my depression kind of made me feel really, trapped I guess, and I was always dealing with this emotional pain, and the cutting was kind of just a release of all that. It kind of made it leave my internal, and made it external, which I thought was a lot easier to deal with.
Q: Because it made the pain physical?
Josh: Exactly. I’m glad you were able to decipher that mess of an explanation!
Q: So, what came next? Did anyone find out about your depression and self-harm before anything else happened?
Josh: Umm, no, I kept that a secret for a long time. I don’t know how long it was after I started that, but I began to have like, body issues. I thought I was fat, and it’s not like I was the skinniest person ever, but looking back now, I know I wasn’t that much bigger than anyone else. At the time though, I felt I was, so I stopped eating. Well, like… I would eat, just not enough, and I lost quite a bit of weight off that, but then I’d start to eat regularly again, cause I couldn’t stand being hungry all the time, and I’d gain all the weight back. It was just a big yo-yo diet and it made me feel worse about myself.
Q: So that was your time with anorexia? How did you get out of that cycle?
Josh: Yeah. I mean, my parents noticed pretty quickly when I stopped eating their meals, and was losing weight so quickly, so they started making me eat normally again, but then I still wasn’t happy, cause I was still stuck in that anorexic frame of mind that it was too much.
Q: Did you see a doctor that diagnosed you with anorexia, or…?
Josh: I was diagnosed later on. At that point, my parents though it was a phase for the most part, and that once I started eating normally again, I had gotten over it.
Q: Ah. So from there, is that when bulimia set in?
Josh: Yeah, once I couldn’t skip meals anymore, I felt like I still needed a way to control my eating, you know? So I’d eat normally, or more than normally eventually, which is a binge I guess, and I’d excuse myself to the bathroom after to throw up. It was a lot easier to hide, for me, because I could do it in private, and didn’t have to lie all the time. When you’re constantly saying no thanks to food, people around you start to notice, and that’s why my parents caught on so fast, but with purging [the throwing up after a binge], it was like, no one had to know. I’d finish eating like everyone else, and then go somewhere private and get rid of it. At the time, I thought it was genius to be honest.
Q: So at the time, did you even know that bulimia and anorexia existed? Or was it something you were totally unaware of, and thought you had found this great new weight loss method?
Josh: At the time, no I didn’t know what they were. Like, I knew they weren’t great, but for me they worked, and I guess it was kind of another method of self-harm. All of my issues were kind of rooted in self-destruction and that all sprouted from my depression. I don’t even think I really lost that much weight during my bulimia, to be honest. But at the time it was all I had so I kept doing it.
Q: Did your parents find out or notice before you moved on to other things?
Josh: Other things being drugs?
Q: Yeah *laughter* sorry.
Josh: *laughing* No problem. I started experimenting a lot with weaker drugs and alcohol. Like, I smoked a lot of marijuana and tried ecstasy and shrooms, and stuff, but only at like, parties and stuff. I did an outpatient program for bulimia, where you go to a centre a couple days a week, to get checkups and go through therapy and stuff, but you still live at home, and use meal plans that the centre provides you with, and that was all shortly before I actually tried heroin for the first time.
Q: So, how hard was it to let go of bulimia?
Josh: It was scary more than anything. Um, I guess it kind of becomes a part of you. Once I was done with it, I was happy that I didn’t have to run to the bathroom after meals anymore, but like, I still had those urges for a long time, and the feelings of things being too much and the guilt and stuff. It took a long time to go away for the most part.
Q: I can see why it would be difficult. After you got over the bulimia, is that when you first tried heroin?
Josh: It was during my recovery process. I went over to a friend’s house for a party, and a couple people I knew were smoking it, and asked if I wanted to try. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t want to try it, because at the time I did. Like I said, it was another form of self-destruction, and I thought it would help me escape a lot of the problems I was dealing with, and so I tried it. And really, after the first time I smoked it, I was hooked on it. It’s extremely addictive and if you ever get the chance to try it, or any drug for that matter, just say no, because it only takes one time and can mess up your whole life.
Q: You said you smoked it. Isn’t heroin usually taken intravenously?
Josh: Yeah, that’s a more common way to take it, but I never used needles. I think mainly because it is easier to hide… needles leave track marks and then you have to throw out the used ones and I didn’t want people knowing once I was hooked on it.
Q: Did you know immediately that you wanted help to quit?
Josh: Not at all. Like I said, it was almost a 2 year addiction, started at 16, and it was away to numb all my feelings. Umm, eventually, my parents found out, and sent me to therapy sessions and stuff, but I didn’t really want to quit, so it didn’t help at all. Eventually, they told me I either went to rehab, and at least tried to get clean, or I had to leave their house. And like, I was 17 and didn’t have a job, so I couldn’t get kicked out, so I went to rehab just to get them off my back, and to be able to say well, I tried sorry. But uh, yeah, once I had it out of my system for a month or so, I realized how much better off without it I was.
Q: Do you think if your parents hadn’t given you that ultimatum, that you would still be addicted to it?
Josh: I think if they hadn’t made me quit, I would be dead. As it is, I was really lucky to get out healthy and alive. So many people die from overdoses and just doing stupid shit while on it, and I really am extremely lucky to be alive right now.
Q: Was quitting heroin hard on you?
Josh: *Laughing* Oh god, it was horrible. The first couple days off it, I don’t think I went more than 20 minutes without throwing up. I couldn’t eat or sleep, and my body wouldn’t cooperate well enough to walk straight. It was definitely hard.
Q: So right now, do you use any drugs or alcohol, or have any habits that you used to have… like, do you still have anorexic or bulimic tendencies, or self-harm or anything?
Josh: Um, I drink a lot of Coke *laughs*. But no, I smoke cigarettes, but am trying really hard to quit that. Uh, I don’t think you, well I don’t think I will anyway, completely rid myself of the thoughts and urges for any of that, but I know how to control it and get rid of those thoughts now. Um, it helps a lot that I am surrounded by people who support me so much, and like, know about the stuff I dealt with and are willing to listen to me when I am having a hard time. Once I get off cigarettes, it’ll be the first time since I was like, 16 that I have been totally clean. I’m excited to get to that point cause it’s been a tough road.
Q: I bet that’s really exciting. You must feel really proud of yourself for getting over so many obstacles.
Josh: yeah, but like I said, if I didn’t have the support network that I do, I don’t think I could have done it, so I owe my friends and family my life pretty much. I’m really grateful to have them.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who might be suffering with similar issues?
Josh: Definitely. Uh, even if you don’t think you need help, tell someone who cares. Cause like, if you get too far in, you won’t be able to get out alone, or sometimes at all. And even if you think your problem isn’t serious enough, cause like, when I was dealing with my eating disorders, like, I knew they were bad, and I shouldn’t be doing it, but I was dragged in and couldn’t stop on my own. But I felt like there were people who were far worse off and were dying and all I was doing was eating weird. But like, no matter how small your problem seems, it’s still a problem, and there are still things that can be done to get you help.
Or if you don’t think you want help, believe me, it’s a lot better once you’re sober or healthy. And like, I know a lot of people might feel like they don’t have anyone who would be willing to help them, or care about their problems, but there are tons of hotlines and anonymous support groups and stuff you can go to. And I mean, if you really don’t know what to do, me and the rest of the band are really supportive, and like, if you are having a hard time dealing with something, you can reach us on twitter, or Tumblr… the band has a Tumblr blog where you can leave messages and stuff, and on our Facebook page or Myspace, but I don’t know if Ian still uses that so much anymore. Anyway, there’s tons of ways you can reach us if you’re stuck and need advice or something. Cause like, I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I did, but I know it happens and it is important to get out while you can.
Q: Lastly, do you think your addictions and disorders influenced your creative process at all? Musically speaking.
Josh: Definitely. I think it really enhanced my writing actually… it gave me a lot more meaningful topics to write about and I always had some sort of feeling or situation that I needed to get out and it came out in music. A lot of our songs are based around my issues and whatever, so I think in a way it was good for my writing. But like, I’d never recommend it. You can write amazing music, or make amazing art or be amazing at whatever you aspire to do in life without drugs or mental problems. It’s not worth it in the end, because either way, it still takes lots of hard work and practice and as long as you push yourself in whatever you are doing, you will succeed.
Q: Thank you so much for your time. I know it’s a hard subject to talk about and I really appreciate you doing this.
Josh: Not a problem. It is an uncomfortable topic, but I’m glad it will be put towards helping others who are in a tough situation. Thanks so much.
NGL I just bawled my eyes out.