CHAMPAIGN — Drug addiction knows no boundaries.
Parham Parastaran knew it was time for change when he was found face up on his bar one morning wearing nothing but white traces of cocaine.
After turning to Dr. Lawrence Jeckel at Presence Covenant Medical Center in 2003 to undergo more than 1,200 hours of psychoanalysis, he realized his addiction was used as a scapegoat from reality.
The result is "Perfect Pain," Parastaran's memoir of self-actualization and recovery, published June 1.
"About five years go, I began feeling really blessed that I started the therapy process," Parastaran said. "Things were starting to get better for me, and I was compelled to write. It was just a moment of feeling grateful of who I am and what I had gone through."
While managing 16 Car-X Tire & Auto franchises, hosting the Car-XCrazy K charity fundraiser and building a forever home for his wife and three children, Parastaran was living the American dream — and nursing a dark secret.
A self-proclaimed workaholic, Parastaran said he created a life where he was constantly planning and often felt the need to escape. He said studying his past helped him move forward in the healing process.
Parastaran was only 9 years old when he was forced to flee Iran by train to start a new life in America with his mom and brother. The fresh start gave him the ability to reinvent himself, and despite moving from school to school in his teenage years, Parastaran said he was very popular. However, most of his likeable personality was just a front.
"I had serious depression, and a lot of people never saw that side of me," he said. "They know me as a successful businessman and a community leader who has lots of friends. The happiness that I was getting from those things was created to ward off painful stuff that I didn't want to think about. I built everything for all the wrong reasons."
Parastaran said his ongoing road to self-actualization is supported by his family and friends, and most importantly, Jeckel. Although people want to hear the crazy stories of drugs and abuse, Parastaran said he wanted to tell the positive side of how much Jeckel helped him.
"I shouldn't be alive," he said. "Every doctor I went to wanted to give me a magic pill or antidepressants. Nothing short-term could've worked for me, and that's why I worked with Dr. Jeckel so well."
Psychoanalysis, or therapy to release repressed emotions and experiences, allowed him to become present in a world of constant planning and experience real happiness, he said. Part of this transition involved selling his business of 24 years and discontinuing his annual charity run.
"I sold my business as part of winding down," he said. "Even though Crazy K was an amazing charity, it served its purpose. Stopping that and selling my business was the start of an area in my life which is not knowing what's next."
Parastaran said "Perfect Pain" started as a tool for him to reflect on his life; however, he hopes it becomes a resource for readers looking to be present in the moment. He said he's excited to live and exist after being in an environment of controlling everything, and he's currently working on other books with the same message.
"I get high from affecting people," he said. "I truly feel like my life calling is making a difference, and I believe this is only the beginning."