This Is 2015

Joe Dirt 2, Starring...

A Reluctant Kelly Bergin

Yesterday I reclined in the oral surgeon's chair and inhaled the sweet smell of laughing gas.

The assistant inserted an IV full of Valium and Michael Jackson Drugs and soon I was out.

I remember waking up and coughing on the blood and joking about how to date with dentures: maybe my grandma will have some advice? Shit, she hasn't dated since the late 40's.

Most of the teeth on the top are gone now. My gums are bloody and swollen and I sound like Sadie when I tried to say my S's. (Her lisp is way cuter than mine.)

On Thursday, I'll get my new falsies, just in time for my move back to Hollywood.


On Christmas Day, I took a Dilaudid for the wicked mouth sores that accompany lupus. I have been deservedly prescribed painkillers by pain care specialists for over two years now. 

Besides the occasional Dialudid, which is similiar to morphine, I have a standing prescription for a Vicodin and Tylenol mix. Depending on how severe my pain was, I took anywhere from 1 to 4 a day.

Used long-term, these medications can cause liver failure and memory loss. And, of course, terrible addiction. 

I do not believe I abused them or that I was addicted to them, but when I was in the hospital, I craved the liquid Dilaudid. And the days following a hospital release had me itchy with pain and lust for the drug.

But I used them as a crutch; I took it to anticipate the pain, without thinking about it first. I took it thoughtlessly. I swallowed a Vicodin with my morning coffee. They never made me feel stoned; just lighter, more able.

So on Christmas Night, I decided to quit painkillers. Cold turkey. I am bull-headed like that. I did not want to become a slave to addiction. I wanted to remember more. I wanted to sleep less and do more. 

I am trying to do things with purpose. To think before I speak. To consider what I eat. To think more about my autoimmune diabetes and how different foods affect me. 

I never took them when I drove. I didn't mix painkillers and booze. I wasn't physically addicted to them, though a different person might become addicted with that sort of dosage. But mentally, I leaned on them.

They made my days easier. I deserved easier.

I coveted easier.

When I went cold turkey, I had intense itching for about 36 hours and then it was done. I wanted them; I took a few when I needed to. I will not deny myself relief from extreme pain; that is ridiculous.

But I wanted clearer days. I didn't want additional medical conditions that might arise from long term painkiller use. My decision isn't for everybody. None of my doctors encouraged me to quit. This was my decision, and mine alone.

At the beginning of the New Year, 6 days without pills, I read my horoscope for the year. I used to laugh these off, but now I figure that more guidance, even hokey guidance, can't hurt.

I translated my horoscope, with it's rounding generalizations and usual sort of BS, into something else:

If the world is asking you to be brave, then be brave.
On New Year's Eve, Gen and I flew out to California. And on January 3rd, we had the immense pleasure of watching Meghan and Declan get married on the beach in Santa Monica.

It was one of the best weekends of my life. Surrounded by my second family and all my very best friends, I never felt happier.

I stayed out in LA for a week longer. I almost didn't get on the plane home.

In Claire's kitchen, I decided to apply for graduate school. I'm getting my Master's in psychology with a focus on child studies. Depending on how quickly I get in and secure student loans, I will start in Los Angeles in either April or July.

I want to work with sick children. I want to counsel families in hospice. I want to take my experience and use it for good. I want to run a camp for sick children. I want to do something with this unfortunate knowledge I have, and I want to use it to help. 


It's been 30something days since I decided to start feeling my pain. In that time, I've taken a handful of pills for extraordinary pain.

Some days, it feels as if I have sloughed off a layer of protective skin. I feel so raw and I can be so moody, feeling this pain. The pain of the everyday, and the pain of these inflammatory diseases.

When my knees swell, I look toward non-drug treatments. I use heat and ice. I take vitamins and probiotics. I can digest food now. I feel newer, even as the days wear on.


I move to Los Angeles in six days. I am ready to come out. I feel excited about who I am and who I will be.

I am scared. I am nervous as hell. I'm feeling everything, for the first time in forever.

And I can't wait to feel brave.


I don't think I could do anything without the support of my family. They push me. They believe in me.

These last two and a half years at home have been so hard. I hadn't lived at home FT since I was 18, and then I came back at 26 for three months that turned into two plus years. I have fought and yelled and resisted. I have felt anger and rage. 

But now that this time is coming to an end, I can only feel gratitude. My parents took care of me. My brother runs to the store for me. My sister is my best friend in all of this. My brother-in-law shows up with Sadie when he knows I need to see her.

And Sadie saved my life, more times than I will ever tell her. During the deepest sickness and depression I have ever known or hope to know, she was the reason I kept myself alive.


Thank you all. See you in California, where I plan to stand in the light, all day long.