Elias Kihyet

Elias’ Story

Inside a cold, concrete cell Elias Kihyet missed the simple pleasures of the outside world and the company and companionship of his family, dogs, and rabbits. They were an important part of his life; he calls his pets his “fur children.” A little over a year ago, Elias admits the power of his addiction to methamphetamines overpowered his love for his own life and landed him in jail.

Elias recalls feeling out of place at a very young age. He knew he wasn’t like everyone else around him in the small town of Gautier, MS. As the youngest of four children and the only boy, Elias was never happy in his own skin and quickly explored other means of comfort. He smoked his first cigarette at the age of seven. At the age of 13, he began to drink quite heavily, passing out many nights once intoxicated. As a high school senior, he faced legal troubles after being caught with drug paraphernalia on campus.

For years insecurity surrounding his sexuality caused Elias to seek validation and acceptance from others. This led him to further abuse alcohol and other drugs. He would enter and complete rehabilitation programs, temporarily dispelling his addiction. However, with never coming to terms on how to love himself, his drug abuse quickly returned and grew stronger each time. Not even the specter of death was enough to shock him into recovery. In 2014, he miraculously survived a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler after passing out on the interstate due to sleep deprivation of 4 days.

Two years later his best friend, who happened to be his father, was on the losing end of his battle with cancer. Elias told himself he was staying high so his father would not see how upset and hurt he was about his father’s declining health. But he knew the truth inside. He knew he had no power and was simply a slave to his addiction. Upon his father’s death, Elias’s drug abuse escalated rapidly. He felt ashamed for using drugs to comfort himself, rather than making the most of the time he had left with his father. His out-of-control behavior and drug abuse soon caught up with him. He was arrested at his job for embezzlement to support his addiction. He spent many months in jail where he was able to examine himself deeply. He also began to mourn the loss of his father without the escape of drugs or alcohol. He was placed on the drug court program, which helped Elias find stability, structure and a routine for his early recovery.

Today, recovery has helped Elias blossom into the person he has always wanted to be. He accepts, loves and embraces all parts of who he is. He has finally accomplished being a happy individual and is truly joyful over his life. He encourages others who may be struggling with recovery or self-worth to take it one day at a time and find joy in the small things. He wants people to know that it does get better. His relationship with his family is more solid than it has ever been, and he is back home with his “fur children” in his small town of Gautier, MS. Elias is excited about his future and his goals for the future. He strives daily to stay true to himself and to honor his family, as well as honor the legacy and memory of his father, his very best friend.

The views, information, and opinions expressed in this story are solely those of the subject(s) and do not necessarily represent any official policy or position of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health or any of the Stand Up, Mississippi campaign partners.


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