ROGUE RIVER, Ore. — While the holidays can bring feelings of joy and celebration to families, this time of year is often difficult for those who struggle with addiction.
Many times, alcohol is abundant at holiday parties, which can put an addict, or recovering addict, in a tough spot.
Holly Sitko, a native of Sidney, is all too familiar with this.
“New Year’s Day is one of the most popular days for someone to enter rehab,” she said.
Sitko, who now resides in Rogue River, Oregon, has grappled with addiction for years. It was this fight that led to her using music as a way to cope throughout her recovery. Now sober, Sitko wants to lend a helping hand to those still stuck in the rut of addiction.
With the release of her new album, “Kaleidoscope View,” she hopes to reach others who are facing the uphill battle of seeking help to find healing.
Sitko, 43, was born in Troy, but lived in Sidney until she was 5 years old. It was then that she and her family relocated to Fayetteville, Tennessee, where they stayed for four years before returning to Sidney.
Due to the development of a southern accent, Sitko said she was bullied by classmates. During her eighth-grade year, she attempted to commit suicide and was subsequently diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.
“My family was in denial about it,” Sitko said. “They didn’t want a child to be labeled as bi-polar.”
As a result of a stay in the hospital due to mental illness and the suicide attempt, Sitko said she was again bullied upon her return to school.
“It was after that episode that alcohol became the solution,” she said. “I just didn’t care. Alcohol was my gateway.”
From then on, with untreated mental illness and a blossoming addiction, Sitko was headed down a path that could only result in destruction and despair.
The culmination of this destruction came in 2015, while living in Newport Beach, California, when Sitko had a seizure from cocaine and alcohol abuse. It was at this point that she finally admitted she may need help, and she reached out to a friend.
“He took me to the emergency room and as I was checking into detox, all I remember was being asked a bunch of questions before the room did a 360 and went completely black; I was having a seizure,” Sitko said.
“I woke up hours later and they had me hooked up to an Ativan drip,” she continued. “I said to my friend, ‘I’ll go back to detox, but only if you bring me more vodka,’ so, being the good friend that he was, he brought me a whole bottle. Without anyone in the hospital looking, I chugged the whole thing.”
Sitko said soon after this, she was taken back to the detox area of the hospital. High on Ativan and the vodka she had chugged only a short time earlier, Sitko lashed out at hospital staff.
“I remember this clear as day,” she said. “I told them, ‘You’re the ones with the problem; not me.’ I was screaming and yelling, demanding they call me a cab.”
After getting a ride home, Sitko proceeded to finish the remaining cocaine and alcohol she had in her house, which took about three days. She then quickly went into withdrawal.
“At that point, I just felt hopeless,” she said. “Some miracle made me pick up my phone and call the detox team and ask for help. I’ll never forget the girl — her name was Crystal — on the other line, said these words: ‘Let us put our arms around you and love you.’
“It was what I needed to hear because I felt so unloved,” she continued. “I had wrecked and destroyed everything relationship I had with my family and my friends. At that point, I was just in the isolation of a drunken stupor.”
Sitko returned to the detox center before being admitted into rehab.
“I finished the 90-day program and that’s where it all started,” she said. “That’s when I started to become somewhat better, but I was angry the whole time. I didn’t want to stop drinking, but my body was done. So, it wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to stop; I had no choice — I had to stop.”
Sitko’s recovery hasn’t been all uphill, though, and she admits that she has let her demons get the better of her on more than one occasion.
After a relapse on the Fourth of July, she checked herself into Promises Malibu, a popular rehab center. It was here that she was again diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, as well as borderline personality disorder.
“They have psychologists on hand, and therapy, so they started me on medication for my disorders,” Sitko said. “That’ s just a whole other process on top of the addiction. Finding the right medication took about 12 tries.”
Sitko said finding the right medicine was pivotal to her recovery, and with staying on the right track.
She said it was during her second trip to rehab that she discovered music as a healthy outlet.
“I was bored because I had already gone through all the meetings; I had already heard everything,” Sitko said.
“So, they let me order a guitar — I ordered the cheapest one I could find on Amazon, and I just sat there on every single break and learned how to play. It was not easy.”
With help from online guitar lessons, Sitko eventually learned and continued to practice “basic” songs on guitar. She then got the idea to add her poetry — which she has written her entire life — to the music.
“All of the sudden it was like this light came and I just wrote song after song,” she said. “I was like a machine. I just didn’t even know I had that in me. It was like a gift that was hidden and my higher power said, ‘You’re ready for it.’”
Sitko’s album, “Kaleidoscope View,” came to fruition after she made the move from Newport Beach to Rogue River, Oregon.
“I said, ‘I want to get out of the city; I need peace and serenity and I can’t find it,’” she recalled. “I was working my 12 steps and going to the meetings, but I didn’t have the peace and serenity that everyone talked about; I struggled finding that. So, I moved out to the country and it was like this light went off.”
Sitko made the album, with help from local producers, under the alias, or stage name, Hollie Marie Jean, which incorporates her mother’s maiden name.
“I know there are other people out there suffering with the same disorders, or just plain addiction alone, and they feel hopeless, and suicidal,” she said. “I’m hoping through this album that it can get into the right ears.”
Sitko still lives in Rogue River, along with husband, Stuart, and children Alexzandra, 11, and Anthony, 9. She said her life is one she never could have imagined just a few years ago.
“I was so miserable before, and now I just wake up and I can really admit that I’m truly happy,” she said. “It’s miraculous. If you would have told me three years ago that I’d feel the way I do today, I wouldn’t have believed you; not in a million years.”
Those interested in hearing Sitko’s album, “Kaleidoscope View,” can visit www.holliemariejean.com.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.