My Fair Junkie with Amy Dresner
Amy is a former professional comedienne who struggled with addictions to anything and everything. After getting sober in 2012, she wrote a beautifully honest addiction memoir, My Fair Junkie. Amy talks to Annie about her addictions and the life of freedom she is now living in such a refreshingly real and raw way.
I’m an only child. My parents split when I was two. I’ve a lot of mental illness in my family and a lot of addiction also, the jewels of the family tree. I was a total good girl in high school. I didn’t smoke or drink or do drugs but basically, I do this joke all the time. It’s so stupid. Again, I am a recovering comedienne. I was a comic for five years and haven’t done comedy since basically I got arrested. My whole life imploded and then I was more worried about surviving and not going to prison than I was about telling dick jokes at 12:30 at The Comedy Store.
I was in school with a lot of celebrity kids who were doing blow off the dashboards of their BMWs at 15 and my dad was freaked out. He was just like, “Hey, I’ll bet you’ll smoke or drink or do drugs before you’re 18,” and I said, “I bet I won’t.” He said, “I’ll bet you $1,000,” and I was like that’s how Jews raise each other. We just bribe each other.
The First Time
I waited till I was 19. I was obsessed with purity. Until then, I didn’t smoke or drink or do any drugs. I was really, really into being pure, which is weird because I went totally the opposite direction. I didn’t kiss anyone till I was 18. At 19, I was at college and I was like, “I’m so pure,” and people are like, “you’re a freak.” Y immediate thoughts were, “Oh, my god. Okay so I need to lose my virginity and start drinking and get with the program immediately.” I did that and you know my drinking didn’t look different from anyone else’s drinking. It’s college. Everyone’s throwing up, skipping classes and passing out, and blacking out. It didn’t look that different.
Out of Place
Early on, six years old, I felt weird, different. There was a feeling of being on the outside, less than, lonely. In all pictures of fifth grade, everyone’s smiling and I’m not smiling. I was already really uncomfortable in my skin. There were also really bizarre stages where I wear a bow tie or I wear all army green. They call me Army Dresner. I was weird. A weird kid. I had a nervous breakdown at 19 in college. I’ve had quite a few of those. I don’t recommend them.
Things Fall Apart
I just got really, really depressed and became full blown anorexic and bulimic for the next five years. I’ve been in therapy since I was 13, you know classic LA kid but I was just crying and just really took a dive. Then I had another nervous breakdown at 23. After that, I moved to San Francisco. At this point, I’d been fired from every job I ever had for being mopey and emotional. I moved to San Francisco and I was like, “I’m gonna figure out who I am by figuring out who I’m not, so I’m going to say yes to everything that comes my way.” Feeling like I didn’t know who I was and I felt like fear was driving my life. There was so much confusion, I thought maybe I want to perform or maybe I’m into drugs or maybe I’m into chicks. I don’t know. Let’s just say yes to everything and we’ll figure out what sticks and what doesn’t. That was very much a bad decision. I do not recommend that.
Enter threesomes and Ecstasy and crystal methamphetamine. The second time I did that something clicked for me and I just was like, “Oh, this is how I want to feel. Why aren’t the psychiatrists giving me this stuff?” I felt normal for the first time in my life. That’s when I found at that my mom had been addicted to amphetamines when she was a teenage model and that my uncle had been addicted to amphetamines his whole life and was homeless and schizophrenic and so was very much in my family that uppers were the way to go. That was when I felt that weird vortex open up and I was like, “I can’t get enough of this. I need this to be on the planet and to feel okay and I need it every day, all day.” Thus, started a 20-year battle with addicted and rehabs and suicide attempts. I’d get periods of sobriety and I’d eat it again.
My Fair Junkie
There were many lows that led me to the point of finally overcoming my addictions and writing My Fair Junkie. I learned so much along the way though. You don’t have to believe it to do it. That’s the other thing. You just do it. You don’t have to be, “I think I can do this.” Just fucking do it. The more you do it then you’re like, “Oh, my god.” I didn’t think I could write a book yet I’m a published author of My Fair Junkie. I’ve never written a book, so I think that’s the whole thing is not listening to this. Not listening to your feelings so much, not listening to what your head tells you whether you can or you can’t, you’re worthy, you’re not worthy. Anyone can change but it’s hard and it takes consistent effort.
You’re going to have slip ups and that’s okay. I think the other thing, for me the big thing was to let go of shame. Just let it be what it’s going to be and own everything really outright instead of being ashamed of it. When I was on the chain gang I was documenting it on Facebook. Every day I was posting it. I was like, “This is what I learned to day,” or “This is what I saw on the streets,” or whatever and people were like dying laughing and so I had nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of wherein other people that I was meeting were like, “Hey we can be Facebook friends but don’t tag me on anything about this.” They would take lunch and they’d go outside and pretend they were on a business call. I just completely owned it. That’s my way that I deal with shame is I just go, “Well here it is. Make your decision, judge away.”
Listen to the complete podcast to hear everything Amy experienced and learned that led to the writing of My Fair Junkie.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License