I have lived a privileged life made rich by an education and resources that helped me flourish. These privileges separate me from the suffering people in Appalachia who I think and write about. But since my diagnosis, for the first time in my life, I have an immature, but nontrivial, inkling of how social stigma feels.
Both the story and the song of "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" are ingrained in our Christmas holiday narrative. This seemingly innocent and harmless Christmas song, under closer examination, is neither innocent nor harmless. In fact, it contains an insidious message that legitimizes cruelty and stigmatizes diversity.
You may always be a part of my life. I will give you that. But you will never define me. You do not make me who I am. I will have good days and I will have bad days but that is okay, because no matter what I will wake up every day and value the beauty of life that you shielded from my view for so long.
We need more recovery advocates like Christopher Campau. As a student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, he's been in recovery from a substance use disorder since May of 2006. He continues to share his story publicly in a manner that includes emotions, honesty, and a call to action.