A recovering heroin addict has shared photos of herself in her darkest moments to try and encourage others to seek help before it is too late. Melissa Lee Matos, a mother from West Virginia, has been clean for a year and five months, and is imploring people to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
In the disturbing images below, Melissa can be seen slumped against the bathroom wall with large sores across her face and her eyes rolling back into her head, while her mouth hangs open. She is showing the main side effects of regular heroin abuse, such as painful abscesses and sores, as well as spots on the face and body and severe weight loss. Melissa claims that at the time of the photos she was "hardly alive", and that she was "so far gone I thought that I could NEVER recover."
Taking to Facebook to share her story, Melissa begins by saying she had never intended to share the photos but feels as if she needs to, in order to help others. She goes on to explain her story:
"My name is Melissa, and I'm an addict. I have been clean and in recovery for just about a year and five months. Below, you will find extremely disturbing images of me while in active addiction. This was what I looked like, daily, for years. This is what my husband dealt with. This is what my little girls walked in on. This is what my family and friends saw, on the rare occasions I left the house. I was SICK. I was DYING. I was so far gone I thought I could NEVER recover. I was so lost I couldn't imagine a life without using. I just wanted to die. I didn't realize I was hardly alive."
Melissa then bravely continues, pleading with those who currently are struggling with addiction to reach out to those around them and seek help. She also tells her friends to share the photos with anyone who might require a push to find a solution to their addiction.
"If you are currently in active addiction, this is my plea to you. Look at these pictures. Images of a dead girl. A needle junkie with a habit so fierce she spent days and nights in a self induced coma on her bathroom floor. A girl who would spend every cent on dope and forget she had kids to feed and take care of. A girl who lost every single thing she ever had. A girl who was so sick she thought she would never ever find a way out, until she did.
If you are reading this and are going through the same pain I did, I am begging you to reach out. I died more than once. I have now found life. I promise you, there is HOPE. There is recovery. There is freedom and serenity and you are worthy of it.
Please, please reach out. You do not have to suffer any longer. You are not alone. Just reach out your hand, I'm right here."
Melissa goes on to post an email address, and a recovery page where people can get in contact with her if they need talk.
Melissa says that since posting her story online, she has been inundated with positive messages and people reaching out for help, however, there has also been a few trolls. Not one to back down, though, Melissa has responded to her critics, writing:
"To the people who decided to bash me, attack my character and belittle me, put a value on my life and tell me I don't deserve to be a mother, here is my message to you. Two days ago, I posted a message of truth, hope and recovery, hoping my message would reach even one lost soul. That message has now gone viral. It has been viewed and shared by over a million.
For every ONE hateful comment, I have received FIFTY messages of support and love.I'm sorry if my story offended you. Please forgive me for not responding to your ignorant messages and comments, but I am currently extremely preoccupied with spreading a message and helping those who have reached out."
Melissa is incredibly brave to go public with her confession and story, as it cannot be easy to face up to the person you once were. It's safe to say that through taking to social media to share her story, Melissa will no doubt become an inspiration to many addicts and may help save lives, which must be applauded