The truth can be a tough pill to swallow, but the more openly we acknowledge our darkness, the brighter our light can shine.
If that sounds a bit cliche, it is. But it’s also real, and the LGBT community is no stranger to darkness — we’re more likely to develop substance abuse problems, suicide rates remain higher and we suck down cigarettes like there is no tomorrow.
Which is all just a way of introducing the following bit of news from beloved San Francisco drag personality Sister Roma. You may remember her at the forefront of the battle with Facebook over allowing artists (and everyone else for that matter) to use a preferred identity rather than what’s listed on an I.D. In an incredibly brave and personal post, she is sharing about her long use of the drug crystal meth and the health problems it may have caused her today. We are relieved that her prognosis is good.
We applaud Roma for sharing her story non-judgmentally, for not backing away from her truth, and in doing so, hopefully inspiring others who struggle with similar demons.
Below is the recent message she posted on Facebook, unedited:
I’m a firm believer that some things are too personal to be shared on Facebook. I seldom make posts about my private life. It took me forever to talk about my sobriety but I finally did because I realized that if I shared my journey it may help someone out there struggling with addiction. Once again, I’ve decided that it’s time to share something very personal that may help others out there going through the same thing.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). PH is high blood pressure in the lungs that forces the right side of the heart to work harder and become enlarged. Symptoms of PH include shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain and pressure, and fatigue. There is no cure for PH and without treatment the prognosis is not good. Just before Thanksgiving I felt my heart go into Atrial Fibrillation so I went to the ER. Because of my low oxygen levels they performed tests and found what they believed to be a blood clot in my lung. I was hospitalized for several days. They have given me blood thinners and oxygen to breathe at night (which is kind of fabulous by the way – I highly recommend it.) Tomorrow (Wednesday) I am going into see my top-notch cardiologist team at UCSF for an atrial catheterization. They are going to enter through my neck and and go into my heart to test the pressure and better assess my condition. Once this is complete my doctor will be able to better determine my course of treatment.
I don’t want anyone to worry – please. Honestly for the most part I feel pretty damn good. As many of you know I’m very active. I try to go to the gym 4-5 times a week. I watch what I eat – generally I feel like I’m in pretty good health. Realistically I am going to have to slow down a bit but let’s face it – you can’t keep an old queen down!
The reason I’m sharing this with you is because I want you to know what I suspect is a contributing factor to my Pulmonary Hypertension: crystal meth. I’ve been very open about my 15-year love affair with meth; I smoked it nearly every day. At the time I was young and thought I was invincible. I mean I knew it wasn’t good for me but all my friends did it. It was fun and we were glamorous. Then, when it wasn’t fun or glamorous any more, I stopped. I quit using speed about 8 years ago. I always thought that I made it out alive because I never lost my home, my job, my teeth, or my mind. What I didn’t know is that the drug took a toll on my heart.
I’m sharing this post because I want everyone to know just how dangerous and unhealthy it is to use crystal meth and cocaine. We all know it but many of us still do it. In fact I have friends – young, gorgeous, smart, amazing friends – who use meth and cocaine every day. I’m not judging you and I’m not begging you to quit. I’m just sharing my story as someone who has lived it and is now dealing with the consequences. I’m sharing this because if my story helps even one person then i’m glad I shared it because you matter and I love you.