Tiffany Jenkins is a sociologist, cultural commentator and writer, and is Culture Editor for the journal Sociology Compass. She is the author of Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections, which looks at the influences at play on the controversy over human remains in museum collections; and of Keeping Their Marbles, which examines the controversies surrounding the Elgin Marbles, and the wider debate on the repatriation of cultural heritage.
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I am Tiffany Jenkins of Juggling the Jenkins. Before my sudden and suprising rise on Facebook, I battled addiction and even hid it from my boyfriend at the time for 2+ years. He worked for the Sheriff's Dept. and one day, my lies caught up with me and I was arrested by the same department he worked for.
I decided to make a change and since getting clean, some pretty cool stuff has happened. I've gotten married, had kids, gained hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers, 50+ million video views (I still have no clue how this happened) and I just published a freakin' book!
I want to answer questions most people have, but don't know where to ask. Addiction, depression, anxiety, recovery, PPD, motherhood and anything else you wanna talk about. Let's do this!
Have you ever shouted out "TTTTIIIIIIIIIFANY JEEEEENKIIINNNNSSS!!!!!" and then run into a room prematurely?
Hahahahahahahah. I see what you did there. I'm laughing so hard.
At what point did you finally realize enough was enough? What made you become aware that your actions aren't only effecting you? What advice would you share with someone battling common addictions and depression in certain waves? What's the most positive thing to come out of your experience other than your kids and family?
Hey! 1) I knew enough was enough looong before I actually got clean. I woke up everyday wanting to die, because I desperately wanted my old life back, but the drugs had an unbelievable strong hold on me. It wasn't until my arrest (when I didn't have a choice but to stop) the my brain became clear enough to realize I didn't want to go back. 2) I knew the entire time my actions were affecting others, but I was selfishly, relentlessly, finding ways and means to get more. 3) I have tons of advice based off of my experience for those struggling. The quickest answer is - you cannot battle something like depression or addiction alone. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain, one that is nearly impossible to address on your own. Help. Help changes everything. If you have a problem, seek help as if your life depends on it - because it does.
The most positive thing to come out of the experience, was the ability to belly-laugh and enjoy life again. Hands down.
What is the best way you've learned to deal with depression?
Hey! I met with a Dr. (at the health department because my funds are limited) and he hooked me up with a treatment plan that fit my needs. Different things work for different people, but for my personal plan - it included counseling and medication. I am not suggesting anyone run out and get meds by any means. I think that talking to someone and coming up with a plan of action that best suits the individual is the way to go. My depression still comes in waves, but I practice some of the tools I've learned in therapy to help during those down times.
Got any tips for people in the situation you were in?
Yes. I'm not a doctor but to those struggling with addiction. It's important that you know that a life after addiction IS possible. Not just a life - but an amazing life. If you want to get clean, you have to get honest with yourself and your loved ones. Because a support system during recovery is crucial. I personally went to a rehab center for 6 months, followed by a halfway house and attended meetings. This idea can scare people, so it's best to take it one day, one hour, and one minute at a time.
Which two historical figures would really hit it off if they met in a bar?
Haha. Andrew Jackson and Alexander Hamilton. Despite the money stuff, both of them had terrible childhoods. They could get drunk and bond over the tragedies of their early life.
How did you get it in your mind to say NO after detoxing? My reward system S U C K S and I end up back at the beginning. And, the crazy part is that I feel so good 4/5 days with nothing other than the ridiculous amount of physical pain I have from ulcers, surgeries, ovaries trying to kill me, etc. but, in my head, I’m like... you made it this far, you can take a few for the pain. Nope. I can’t. I also have major anxiety, been on benzos for 7 years and gah everything is just a struggle. I guess my two ?s are how did you get the will to say no and how do you manage your anxiety?
Hey! So I had tried to get off of the drugs tons of times on my own. While I was in jail, I decided that after my release I wanted to go straight to a rehab. I know the idea of rehab is scary, but I honestly knew that I DID NOT HAVE THE COPING SKILLS to deal with the outside world and all of the emotions, feelings, and unexpected situations that would arise. Getting high was my only coping mechanism, so I knew I had to learn new ones. I would have to learn them somewhere and the answers weren't going to fall into my lap while laying in bed trying to convince myself not to get high. I spent six months in rehab and learned more about myself in that time than I had my entire life. I have TERRIBLE anxiety. But since meeting with my doctor, and coming up with an individualized care plan - it is SO MUCH BETTER. "
How have you juggled being a mom an addict in recovery a wife and not go nuts! You do so many amazing things how do you stay focused?
Listen...I still go nuts...on the daily. Ha ha. But I have so many hypothetical "tools" to pull out during those times that I can make it through unscathed. Meditation, demanding five minute breaks, breathing exercises, and praying to a higher power. My worst days clean are a hundred times better than my best day high.
Love your book. How can I share it on kindle? Is reddit safe? Xoxo Shellie
Hi Shellie! Thank you so much. There is a lending library and if you and another person who wants to read have prime, you can get their info and share it for free :)
The internet is rarely safe. :p
LOADED QUESTION WARNING
You met hubby in rehab and almost immediately got preggo. What was your response to that? Did that affect your recovery at all? If you knew then what you know now, would you still do everything the same? NOT JUDGING, LOVE YOU - CAN RELATE TO THIS PART!!!
I peed on the stick in the bathroom of the halfway house I was living in. When the two lines showed up I collapsed on the floor and cried. Not tears of joy, tears of terror. I only have 10 months clean and cab barely take care of myself, how am I to raise a child? I have no job, no care and no home, how can I support a baby? What the hell am I supposed to do?
Me and the guy who got me pregnant were married and the growing life was all the more reason to continue seeking a better life. We got an apartment, a car, jobs and my son was born on my birthday.
He is currently sitting on the couch watching Mickey next to his little sister and her leg is draped over his.
I wouldnt change a single thing 💜
What do you think of using the natural herb Kratom to help get off opiates and the proposed ban of Kratom the DEA/FDA?
Ohhh good question. Okay here's my thing... And i'm going to sound like a conspiracy theorist lol (because I am), but I think its silly the Dea wants to ban this plant, while millions of people are legally smoking cigarettes and dying. Hundreds of people are dying each day from opiod overdoses. The fear of the unbearable physical and mental pain from withdrawal is what keeps most addicts using. IF Kratom is taken properly and helps ease the pain naturally, therefore motivating addicts to try and quit - than I am all for it. It is not a solution, more work should be done while getting clean. But different things work for different people. I dont know enough about Kratom to speak from a scientific standpoint, but if it's helping addicts make a positive change, than I think its worth exploring.
<3 YOU MADE IT!!!! Every single day is a victory. But look at all of the beauty you have created around you. <3
Thank you so much. This means alot :)
Love your answer and I completely agree with your stance on the DEA conspiracy. Congrats on getting clean! I'll have 2 years in March '18 myself.
Aww hells yeah! Congratulations! That's amazing!
Hey tiffany read your book it was good. Lots of triggers for me since we both were/are addicted to the same drug. My question for you is do you think you would of been able to get clean without going to jail? I know in your book your plan was to quit fucking around after you finished paying the guy off. But do you think you would of? Lets say you never got caught up and no one found out do you think you would of gotten clean? Its is easy for me to say okay last one no more after this but its a whole different story when your sick.
Hey! Thanks for reading my book dudddde! This is hard to answer because there is no telling what the hell would have happened had I not been arrested. I could be dead, I could still be stuck in that relationship with a 7 year secret, I could have confessed everything, gotten help and avoided all of this... I don't know. I think the only way I would have been able to get clean would be to come clean and be honest with Chuck about what I was going through. He probably would have been 100% supportive and helped me get into a rehab. Had I gone to rehab, would it have stuck? Would I have stayed clean? I'm not sure. The universe orchestrated my plan the way it was meant to be. I made the right choices at the right time, met the right people and did the right things. I think that's why I am where I am. I just wanted to be clean again.
what are the most important 9-21 specific things that you've learned from this experience that would be helpful to most of us?
1) Keep hope alive. Whether you are the addict or a loved one of an addict. Never lose hope, because it's never too late to start over.
2) Withdrawal sucks - but it is temporary, IT DOES END.
3) Being honest with your loved ones about your problems is key to getting better, your secrets will keep you sick.
4) Getting clean is something you do for yourself, not for anyone else. Only then will the reactions or responses from others become irrelevant.
5) Willingness is KEY. When you desperately want something, you become willing to do WHATEVER it takes to get it. Including sobriety.
6) Drugs, alcohol, gambling, over-eating etc; are SIDE EFFECTS of a deeper problem. I used to think that drugs were my problem. I learned that a combination of neglect, insecurity, lack of self-confidence and a slew of other environmental circumstances led to the wires in my brain getting crossed. Anytime I put something in my body that made me feel different, the pleasure pathway of my brain would explode and crave more. Once I addressed the underlying issues, it helped replace the desire to numb myself, with the desire to better myself and thrive.
7) People will react much more positively to you admitting you have a problem and want to change than you think. Fear of judgement keeps many of us sick, but most people nowadays can relate to being powerless in some form and will applaud you for being honest and seeking help.
8) I control my emotions, my emotions don't control me. I used to think that the way I reacted to things was just the way I reacted to things. I never realized that I was actually in control of the way I felt. When something angers me, I make the decision to let it go and not stew about it. When something makes me feel defeated, I allow myself to feel that emotion for a time, and then choose to move on. It sounds impossible, but it's not.
9) Resentments are like setting yourself on fire, so your enemy dies of smoke inhalation.
10) An attitude of gratitude changes everything. When I get angry driving in traffic, I remember the times I rode public transportation. When my house is a mess, I remind myself it's not a jail cell. When my kids are wildin' out and driving me insane, I remember that they will soon be grown and off on their own - so I embrace the chaos.
Do you have advice for spouses or SO’s of partners with drug addiction? I shared my story in a comment on your blog under the name Catalina, and even though I lived it as the spouse of a drug addict, I like to hear the perspective from the other side.
At the time, I found support and information for family and spouses to be seriously lacking. I had to commit my husband to the hospital the week after our first child was born and no one would give me tools on how to help my husband in recovery. They released him after 10 days with NO information except for him to go to meetings every day by himself. It was helpful for him, but not for me who was still freaking out.
Then when they had him addicted to suboxone for 5 years without any attempt to therapy, information or plan, we thought this was something he had to be on for the rest of his life. We seriously thought suboxone was like an antidepressant for opiate addiction. Like, okay, you just need to take this to fix deficiencies in your brain and you’ll be okay.
Then suddenly they cut him off with no warning or explanation and I couldn’t find help anywhere. I called every hospital and Doctor in the city and no one wanted to touch him, or talk to me. I later found out that he should not have been on suboxone for anywhere near that long.
On my own, I had to help him through the agony of withdrawal by myself while taking care of 2 kids. I constantly read articles and forums online to know wtf I’m supposed to do, and although the acute withdrawal was over in about 4 months, he truly didn’t fully stop withdrawal until 2 years later. Suboxone is a bitch to quit cold turkey from and it affected him much more than physically; the hardest parts were the mental and emotional trauma. I’m happy to say he’s 5 years clean now and very successful. But I wish I had somewhere to turn to for ME. I myself have trauma, trust issues, etc. that I have yet to address. Anyway.
So, if you have any helpful advice, information or tools for family and SO’s that you could share, I would sincerely appreciate knowing that if someone like me is desperately searching forums, etc., like I did, maybe they will find this thread and something useful and helpful.
Hey girl! Im gonna post a link to a place specifically created for people in your position. I have always said the only thing harder than being an addict is loving one. I have never been in your shoes, but millions of people have. You can find them here http://www.nar-anon.org
You are an amazing soul for all you have done for him, amd your family. I hope you find peace and are able to heal 💝
Why did it take you so long to stop doing opiates?
Mannnn, I'll tell you what. When I started using I was ignorant as hell. I had no idea about withdrawal and thought that drug addicts lived under bridges and used needles. I never saw the connection between taking a few occasional pills and what ended up happening. There was a night toward the beginning of my using, where, it felt like my bones were breaking simultaneously, and my stomach was bubbling so i desperately needed to get up to use the bathroom, but I didnt have the energy to move. The air outside of my blanket was frigid and caused painful goosebumps to prickle my skin. I was freezing and sweating and it felt like millions of fire ants were biting my skin. I called my friend and she said "take another pill you will be fine." So I did. And I INSTANTLY felt 100% fine. That was the night I started using because I needed to- in order to not feel that pain. My mind was just as addicted. It was as of I was the Tinman, and the drugs were my oil. It felt impossible to function without them.
I read your book within 3 days! It is an amazing story. Congratulations on 5 years sober! Do you still speak with “Chuck” any?
Thank you so much girlfran! I do not. I pray to one day.
Being a stepmom is hard. Any advice?
It sure as shiz is. For so many reasons. My best advice would be, to put fairness, resentments and injustice aside, and do whatever you can to ensure that the child has the best life. It can be hard sometimes when you are caring for another's child, what's okay to do what's not, having other people involved in the parenting, etc. I constantly tell myself, "One day she will be grown, make sure that when she looks back she has memories of a loving stepmother who did everything in her power to include and involve the birth parents at every turn." I try to remember it's not about me, it's about her.
How can I get a donated book?
On my group page, under the info tab, there is a file specifically dedicated to those who can't afford the book, where those willing to donate theirs can connect with you and make a plan.