A Message from Cathy

For those that know me only as Indie Gamer Chick, it might be weird to think of me as Catherine Michaels. That’s my name. I got it marrying Brian. I don’t think I’ve ever posted that before. But hi, I’m Cathy Michaels. I play the character Indie Gamer Chick that I created in 2011.

And I’m a drug addict. And I’ve relapsed.

People might know that I spent a great deal of 2018 in rehab for this very issue. And I thought I had beaten addiction. But you don’t beat addiction. And I’m ashamed to admit that in my very first real opportunity to relapse, I did. The fact that it happened was so unreal to me that it felt like an out-of-body experience. Like, I knew the consequences of it, and I knew what it meant for me going forward, and I did it anyway. I had a small neck surgery and I tricked my family who was dispensing to me the medication for the pain for it. I pretended like I took the pills, and I didn’t, so I could build up 3 or 4 to take at one time. I was in real pain. I was. But I should have been an adult and told my doctor it wasn’t strong enough and I didn’t. Ironically I didn’t want to come across like a drug seeker. But I also know in my heart I did it so that I could get a stronger high. And now I wonder if maybe that’s why the meds didn’t work for the pain. Because I was disappointed in the lack of euphoria. In fact, I think that probably happened. Keeping it real, I honestly don’t know if the pain was real or if it was the addiction making it real.

So I tricked my family and stockpiled pills to take more at once. I did this I think five times over the last few weeks.

I did it. I came clean that I did it. And now I have to face up to the consequences of that. And also own up to the fact that I’m not as far along in my recovery as I believed. The fact that I lost ten months of the prime of my life and have possibly nothing to show for it makes me sick to my stomach. But I own it. I’m responsible for my actions. Yes, I’m an addict. And yes, addiction is a disease. But I re-entered into a suicide pact with addiction of my own free will. In 2018, the one thing they drummed into my head again and again was to reach out in moments of weakness. And I didn’t. I learned nothing, wasted everyone’s time and my family’s money and I still need help.

I am so sorry to everyone who believed I was doing better. I believed it too. I think I’ve burned up all my second chances with some, and I accept that. My parents especially. I realize this time, the point of no return has been crossed. That they’ve given their entire existence to me, and I’ve given them nothing but frustration and heartache for it. I’m 29, married, and still putting the screws to my parents lives every step of the way. My Dad retired last year, but can’t enjoy his retirement because I haven’t given them a single moment of peace of mind. I’ve had every conceivable advantage throughout my life, stuff 99.9% of people would never get access to, and what did I do with those? Nothing. Just kept messing up. Maybe because I felt I couldn’t ever cross the line. That there was no line to cross. How arrogant.

Once upon a time, in my role as Indie Gamer Chick, I needed a reminder that developers are real people who go through real struggles in life. I made it a policy that I review the game, not the developer. I’ve done my best to hold firm to that. I slip sometimes, but never with malice.

Well, Indie Gamer Chick is a cocky, mouthy, arrogant character. But she is just that: a character. The girl behind IGC, Cathy, me, she’s real. And she’s a deeply flawed person. One that has burned those she loves, and those who love her, again and again for the last few years. I do believe in my heart-of-hearts that I never did so maliciously, but all evidence does point to me being a selfish, spoiled, immature little girl in desperate need of growing up. I don’t want to be those things, or thought of as those things. But it’s true. I know it. That’s why it hurts to be told it. But even those who are thoroughly disgusted with me this week, I think they would admit that in my heart I aspire to be better. To be a genuinely good person, instead of a person who just has good moments. Addiction is an issue, but it’s hardly the only thing I need to correct. I am so far behind where I should be as a person. I’m done aspiring. I want to do something about it. And it has to start now, while I’m still young.

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3 responses

  1. You have a community that cares for you, a team that will stand behind any decision you make, and an army of developers who will stand up for your place in the industry.

    You will never beat addiction, but you can tame it.

  2. Hey, you came clean long before fully spiraling into 24/7 opioid use and then being caught, which is more than I’ve ever done. It’s madness that anyone let you handle painkillers without watching you swallow the damn pills and giving you a full oral inspection afterwards. That’s like handing someone who’s suicidal a loaded gun. Your family has every right to be disappointed/angry with you, but you also have every right to be disappointed with them. You are literally hardwired to seek and abuse opioids. They weren’t doing you any favors by trusting you with those pills. They dropped the ball.

    I know we have to take responsibility for our own actions—obviously you fucked up and you know it—but I am nevertheless indignant on your behalf. You’re an addict, your family knows you’re an addict, you’ve been in recovery for, what, less than a year? And they thought it was a good idea to let you dose yourself on the honor system? This was a total own goal on the part of your loved ones.

    Maybe they thought they were doing you a favor or showing you respect by giving you this responsibility. If so, they need to hire a less incompetent counselor to talk them through this stuff, because I can’t think of a better way to make someone relapse short of just handing them a full bottle of sweet, poisonous Opana.

    Yeah, sure, it would be better if you could be trusted to swallow your painkillers as directed, and it would be better if you hadn’t lied about your dosing, but what the fuck!? You will always, for the rest of your life, have a strong tendency to abuse opioids and whoever handed you those pills knows it. This whole situation was set up as a test and, for a recovering addict who’s barely gotten out of the dysphoria phase, that test was borderline unpassible.

    I follow you on Twitter and saw the thing about your mom filching your pills when you were in the hospital as a kid, so clearly your family has some experience with treating addiction and they should really know better.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to shit on your family. They sound like they’ve been really wonderful and super supportive. But in this one crucial incidence, they made a serious blunder. And their mistake was neither trusting you too much nor giving you the opportunity to let them down, it was putting you in a situation where you were practically destined to fail. It would’ve taken one minute per four to six hour dose to get this right. If a doctor told you and your family this was okay, you should fire them.

    All of this is just to say you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for this one. You have a disease and that means you may never have the superhuman levels of self control required to pass this kind of test. But you shouldn’t have had to take the test in the first place.

    Good luck with rehab (seems like an overreaction, though, as you aren’t chemically dependent again and you came clean. Feels like punishing you for being honest about a one-time slip up and, at least for me, it would create a major disincentive to coming clean). You can beat this—after all, you had the tenacity to beat Cuphead—and your support system will do better next time. I just hope your family isn’t too hard on you because there’s a lot of blame to go around here.

    I love your reviews and your essays—hope you get better soon. You bring joy to lots of people with IGC and presumably you also keep the wheels of capitalism rolling in your day job. If you ever want to talk this stuff over with someone who’s been clean for five years after enduring a dozen relapses, feel free to ping me if you ever need moral support.

    As my favorite therapist once told me in rehab: embrace the suck! Not really sure what she meant exactly, but it felt like the right kind of inspiration for a bunch of junkies in withdrawal.

    However many times you screw up, I think I speak for many of your fans when I say we believe in you.

    1. I want to point out that they didn’t fuck up. I did. Because I deceived them. They provided me the pills. I faked like I took them, opened my mouth and lifted my tongue to show I did, but I cheeked them. I even practiced doing it with just plain old tylenol.

      And I’m not doing rehab. They just sent me home.

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