I had experimented with many other drugs already; shrooms, LSD, pain killers, and Adderall. This was much different. I genuinely fell in love with this drug from the very beginning and little did I know it would cause my family and I a great deal of pain later down the road. Thankfully, the next day, the house was raided and I was arrested. I was taken to a holding facility called Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster, Ohio. Then later I was transferred to DYS.
If you know anything about the Ohio Department of Youth Services, then you know it is a bad place. Even though it is a group of juvenile correctional facilities, they are just as bad as the adult prison systems in Ohio. Plus, you can be 21 and still be held there. While there, I avoided the gangs, drugs, and violence that took place. I witnessed huge riots. I’m talking like 80-90 people riots that lasted hours. Even with all these distractions, I focused on my schooling. I also focused on my art. Since I was a child, I loved to draw and paint but my time in DYS took my skills to a whole different level. Right before I went home, I was rewarded with my GED. I scored higher than anyone ever has at the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility.
I turned 18 years old shortly after I was released. My mom had moved to West Virginia while I was locked up, so I had to do an interstate compact and I was on parole in both West Virginia and Ohio. This was not a good thing because I had developed a huge problem with authority. I met someone named Mike shortly after being released. To this day, he is one of the best friends I’ve ever had. He’s a huge part of my story, addiction, and recovery.
But unfortunately, when we met, we started selling what was known as K2 or spice (synthetic marijuana). This substance was so cheap, it didn’t show up on drug tests and the worst part about it was that it was more physically addicting than heroin. This drug damaged me greatly: physically, spiritually and mentally. Around this same time, I met Brittany and she got pregnant with my daughter. Thankfully, K2 became illegal and our supply ran out. I was stuck with the damage this drug left behind and up until then, I was getting away with doing it because I could pass drug tests. Now that I can no longer get my fix, I moved onto other drugs.
Here came the psychedelics, Roxy 30s and cocaine. Though I was on parole and I had a daughter on the way, I couldn’t shake my addiction. Before long, my first love found me again. Except this time, I didn’t inject heroin. I smoked it. I was so delusional that I believed that if I didn’t inject it, I wouldn’t become addicted to it. That it somehow made me better than people who injected it. I was so miserable, but the scary part about it is I didn’t even realize it. I was so numb to the world, digging myself into my misery with each high. One night, I was in a drug-induced haze and the most incredible thing happened – Brittany’s water broke and she was in labor.
September 10, 2013, my beautiful daughter Tatem Rae-Lynn Shepard was born. In the midst of a chaotic delivery room as the doctor was holding my baby girl I started speaking and she looked up at me. She wasn’t crying or screaming, but to everyone’s amazement, she looked me dead in my face and smiled the biggest smile. I loved her from the second I saw her. I mean, how could I not love this angel that just gave me the biggest smile in the world? She was a part of me. With all this said, the love for my beautiful newborn daughter didn’t stop me from going out to the parking lot to get high before we ever even left the hospital. To me, this speaks volumes about how powerful addiction is. Even the most beautiful of situations can’t fix how broken some of us are.