Mariya Patrick was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba but at an early age her and her mother relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“I grew up in Santa Fe involved with running, swimming and theatre arts,” remembers Mariya. “We didn’t have the most money growing up, but my Mom busted her butt to provide me with what everyone else had.”
At the age of 12, Mariya and her mother moved back to Canada after her grandmother became ill.
“I started elementary school, then in junior high I started taking part in advanced programming that the school offered there,” says Mariya. “I also participated in track, cross country running and water polo.”
Mariya was an exceptional student, gifted artist and talented athlete until she made a decision to begin experimenting with drugs.
“I became curious about the drug scene,” she recalls. “I think in the beginning because I wanted that change in my state of mind, and the fact that is was very taboo.”
Mariya began using drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine and watched as her relationship with her mother and friends started slipping away, as well as her grades and interest in the activities she loved before. She skipped town and wound up living in Vancouver, BC before making another move to Calgary where she found herself delving deeper in to the world of addiction.
“I was doing harder drugs such as crack cocaine, I lost my job and I was 98 pounds.”
The 2.5 years that followed weren’t any brighter for Mariya.
“I was all over the place. I always managed to have a job, but at times I was homeless. When I had nowhere to go I would go to libraries and pretend I had fallen asleep reading a book.”
Her first attempt at cleaning up came when she moved to the mountains in Kananaskis. Her drug use had slowed but she was still drinking heavily.
“I then moved back to Winnipeg and participated in a 21 day program to help me sober up,” remembers Mariya. “I lasted 3 months before relapsing.”
Mariya compares addiction to being thirsty and never satisfied.
“Your body is screaming out for water, and no matter how much water you give it you just want more and more.”
During the course of her addition, Mariya nearly overdosed, suffered two grand mal seizures (a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions) and indescribably painful withdrawals.
“I felt like an empty shell that I couldn’t fill no matter what I did,” says Mariya. “I think I just stopped caring.”
Mariya’s final move was to Edmonton.
“It was at that time that I got tired of what I was doing,” she says. “It didn’t take an overdose, or a significant event. I was just so tired, and I made that decision in my mind that this was no longer how I wanted to live my life.”
The first step was to check in to a detox for a week, and after that, she had a 2.5 week waiting period before she was able to go into a 21 day treatment program for the second time.
“I was so on edge and anxious that I would set a timer for 10 minute intervals,” recalls Mariya. “That was how I passed my time… making it through 10 minutes, then 20, then 30, then an hour.” Though she had always struggled with anxiety, having to deal with it sober for the first time in a long time was a new struggle.
During that time, Mariya took up something that would turn her life around. Running.
“It served as an outlet for me. A doctor told me that exercising first thing in the morning reduces cravings by 25%,” she explains. “I was running up to 12 kilometres a day.”
With her life changes came the desire for career changes too.
“I called World Health to see if they were looking for anyone and was able to sit down for an interview with who was to become my Manager,” says Mariya. “I knew I was in the right place with how welcome I was made to feel, and that I was never told I wouldn’t be able to do anything, it was all about what I could do to get there.”
From there Mariya started working at Whitemud World Health as a Fitness Consultant and began sessions with a personal trainer who taught her all about lifting.
“On my six month sobriety date I ran Tough Mudder in Drumheller, and had a great experience with it.”
After that, a friend suggested that she try competing in a fitness competition, something she had never dreamed of before.
“I competed in Northerns in May, and although I didn’t place it was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” says Mariya. “I can honestly say that if I didn’t have exercise as an outlet I don’t know where I’d be today. Fitness has saved my life.”
Mariya plans to compete in Muscle Beach in October, as well as INBF.
“Today I have been clean and sober for one year and three months,” states Mariya. “I never expected to be here. I have now transferred the energy I spent locked in my addiction to accomplishing new adventures and trying new things!”
While it’s without a doubt been a long and difficult process, Mariya couldn’t be happier with her life today.
“My experiences have made me who I am today and that battle has turned me into a fighter,” she says. “I am so grateful for everything I have and am living in this moment, right now.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the Addiction Helpline is a toll free confidential service which provides support, information and referral to services. Call 1-866-332-2322.