The other day I spoke about Dual Diagnosis. Just because I’m 12 years sober, doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with addiction. I no longer crave drugs or alcohol, but I still have addictions. Generally, anything that I do, I do it to the extreme. That can include cooking, cleaning, and eating. Those things may sound weird, but I still over-do all of them. Also, when times are difficult, those are the things I turn to. I also quit smoking cigarettes a couple of years ago, which was extremely difficult.
When times are tough, everyone turns to something for relief. My problem is that whatever it is that I turn to, over-do. Does anyone want to share the addictions they struggle with? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I feel that talking about my addictions helps me feel better.
Dual diagnosis is something that affects so many people. Dual diagnosis refers to a person that has a drug and/or alcohol addiction that also has a mood disorder, such as bipolar disorder, depression, and more. I am a recovering drug and alcohol addict. In 2004 I got help; I went to a year-long treatment center that treated both my addiction and my bipolar disorder, and it completely turned my life around. I am now 12 years sober and proud of it. I’m not sure if I’m still considered dual diagnosis since I’ve been sober. I know the addiction never goes away.
Mental health disorders often lead to individuals abusing drugs and/or alcohol. It’s considered self-medicating. Someone may use drugs and/or alcohol to help make themselves feel better, which it may for a very short period of time. However, the euphoria only lasts a short while before the horrible despair sets in. I did this to myself for years before getting help. The causes of my PTSD are from the times that I was actively in my addiction.
Just before I turned 17, I met a guy and was immediately attracted to him. Jared had a personality that was appealing to many. He made friends with people easily, but he only let them see the side of his personality that he wanted them to see. For the first couple months of our relationship, he only let me see positive traits. Once we moved in together, everything changed. He became physically and emotionally abusive. He would tell me when I could see my friends. I had to have dinner on the table when he got home, or else. We did a lot of drugs together. I fell for every trick he played and didn’t stand up for myself at all. He had me convinced that I was lucky to have him; he made me believe that no one else would want me. The worst part of it all is that he broke up with me. He said I wasn’t happy anymore. I remember telling him he would regret it. I was devastated. I don’t know why I was so hung up on a guy that treated me like crap, but I was.
At a party, I met a guy who was so sweet. Chris was the exact opposite of Jared, except for the drug use. I started smoking crack when I met Chris. Jared tried to get back together with me, but I finally stood up for myself and told him no. Jared started stalking me at that point, so I became terrified for my safety even more than I already was. Chris and I dated for several months. He kept talking about getting sober, but I wasn’t ready for that. I was completely addicted to crack that it came before everything. I was even with Chris getting high instead of being at the hospital when my dad died. That is one of the biggest regrets I have. Chris ended up getting killed only a few months after we met.
The loss of my father was exceedingly difficult, even though I knew for years that it was coming. He had been sick for many years with cancer and kidney failure. He ended up dying from an infection on October 10th, 2003. He was in the ICU for a while before his death. I miss my father and think of him every day. Losing him was like losing a part of myself. I wish I had been there to support my family, but I was too far into my addiction. I wish he could have seen me get sober.
My drug use was insane, I was almost always drunk or high on something. All of this made my mental health even worse. I was dealing with rapid cycling; I was either manic or depressed at all times. I didn’t want to spend much time with my friends, the few that I had left. All I wanted to do was die. This was probably my lowest point in life. I finally decided I wanted to quit drinking and using, but I couldn’t do it. I wished I was dead every day. I had lost so much in life, but the worst thing I lost was my self-respect.
One day, I had finally had enough. I went to my mom and told her I couldn’t take it anymore. I told her I needed to go back into the hospital. She told me that a behavioral health hospital would not fix things. I needed more than that; I needed to get sober. Apparently, she had already been looking at places to send me. She showed me some of the places she found. I was interested in this one place in Arizona; it was a year-long in-patient treatment center. It treated drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental health. I actually became excited; I finally felt a glimmer of hope. I was scared, but so enthused about the possibility of feeling better, that it actually lessened the fear. Most people don’t go to rehab willingly. I went not only willingly, but eagerly. I was also terrified; the thought of something new scared me, but the depression was so horrible that I felt my only other option was death.
Decoding Bipolar nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thank you so much, I’m honored that you thought of me. I love reading your posts; you have so much passion in your writings.
The 2016 Liebster Award is an award that bloggers give to other bloggers; it exists only online. The Liebster Award began in 2011. The award supports the blogging community and brings bloggers together.
The updated rules for the 2016 award are as follows:
- Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
- Display the award on your blog.
- Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog and provide links.
- Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
- Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that have less than 200 followers for the award.
- List the rules in your post.
- Inform your nominees that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them.
- Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
I found the official updated rules at The Official Rules of the Liebster Award 2016.
10 Random Facts about Me:
- I got sober at 19 years old and have been sober since then. I have 12 years of sobriety and very proud of my sobriety.
- I love learning. School was always fairly easy for me. However, it takes me a while to read because I tend to see a couple of letters and make up the rest of the word, and it’s usually wrong.
- I’m so hard on myself that I can’t even be proud of my 3.94 GPA that I earned for my bachelor’s degree, during a bipolar and PTSD breakdown.
- I’m extremely gullible. I pretty much believe anything I’m told. My husband likes to have fun with that.
- I played the piano (along with many other instruments). I miss playing and want to spend more time practicing.
- Family is the most important thing to me. Nothing comes above family.
- I married my best friend, who is 11 years older than me. I have 2 step-kids that are all grown and now I even have a granddaughter!
- I have a 10-year-old dog that is very well-trained. He is an 88 pound pit bull, dalmatian, english pointer mutt. His name is Cash, after Johnny Cash.
- I’m very organized, sometimes obsessively. Everything in my house is organized by color, shape, size, as well as alphabetically. The hangers in my closet are all 1 finger space apart.
- I grew up in a small country town in Connecticut with only 3,284 people. I often miss the small country town.
My favorite blog:
My favorite blog is called Story of My Life, it is written by a military man who deals with PTSD, depression, and attempted suicide. Dave, the author of the blog, displays honesty in his writings in a way that makes me feel as if I’m having a private conversation with him. I can relate so much to his struggles with PTSD. Even though the reason for our PTSD diagnoses are very different, I still feel as though I can relate to what he writes about his experiences and ideas. I think that is the best part about his blog, it makes me feel. He writes in a way that connects to my mind and my heart. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing that there is someone else out there that understands how I’m feeling and what I’m going through. A writer that can convey emotions to his or her readers is an extremely talented individual. If feels as if he writes the way he would speak, which also provides a level of comfort to the readers. Dave is also very open about his life experiences. I respect his blog and him as an individual. His honesty and openness have helped me to feel more comfortable in my own writing. He has made a huge difference in my own blog because of these characteristics.
I nominate the following bloggers for the 2016 Liebster Award:
Story of My Life
Bipolar is NOT who I am
My Bipolar Life
Sisterhood of Silence
Closer to the Middle
Tony Vega dot Net
Wallflower or Butterfly.
The questions I was asked and my answers are:
- Is there a negative experience in your life actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise? If so, what and why?
I was an active drug addict and alcoholic, using any drug I could find. Around the time of my father’s death, I started smoking crack. This took me downhill very quickly. I wasn’t even at the hospital with my dad when he died because I was out getting high with my fiancé Chris. A couple of months later, Chris was killed. Everything in my life was falling apart. I couldn’t handle anything anymore. One day, I came home to my mom and said, ‘I hate my life, I want to go back into the hospital’. My mom told me that the hospital won’t change my life, but she had been looking at other places that could help. That’s when I agreed to go into a year-long residential drug rehab program. I honestly believe that I’m sober and alive today because I went to that rehab. My experiences while using and getting sober have made me who I am today.
- What is the one thing about yourself you want the world to know?
I work hard at everything I do including every job I do and every relationship I have. I also follow through on all medical advice and requirements including appointments, medications, research, and tasks. I do my best to stay open to new ideas, even when they scare me.
- Underneath what you do, your diagnoses, and all of the clutter of life, who are you as a person? How do you see yourself?
Underneath everything, I am a family member. I belong to two families, the family I grew up with and the family I inherited from my husband. I see myself as someone who is always there for their family and would go above and beyond to be there for them. I am a loving, caring, and considerate family member.
- Has your diagnosis (diagnoses) affected your life in a positive or negative way (or both)? Why? If you are the loved one of a person suffering from mental illness, how has their diagnosis affected your life in a positive or negative way (or both)?
My diagnoses have affected my life negatively because I have withdrawn from all of my friends during depressive episodes. I have been unable to work for the past 7 years. I’m also terrified to do new things, which makes life very difficult. My diagnoses have affected my life positively because I made some strong connections with people through mental health support groups who have supported me through good and difficult times. My diagnoses have allowed me to relate to others, become more considerate of the needs of others, and help other people even when I don’t realize it.
- If you could live a life free of mental illness, would you? Why? If you are the loved one of a person suffering from mental illness, how would it affect your life if your loved one answered yes or no?
Yes, if I could, I would live a life free of mental illness. I still would have gotten sober and met my husband. Without mental illness, I would not be on disability and I would be able to work, which I truly miss.
- What is your favorite non-physical thing about yourself? Why?
My favorite non-physical thing about myself is that I love others fiercely. I take great pride in all my loved ones and I do my best to make sure they know how much I care about them. I’m also an excellent gift giver, and I love giving gifts to other people.
- What is your deepest fear? Why?
I have a lot of fears, but my biggest fear is losing a family member, especially my mom. My mom is my best friend and I rely on her for so much. I don’t know what I would do without her. Even thinking about it now is terrifying.
- What is one thing you cannot live without?
I don’t think I could live without pictures. I spend a lot of time looking at all of my photographs. I’m very nostalgic, plus, pictures also help me remember things that I have forgotten due to medication and treatments.
- What’s your favorite place and why?
There is a single tree in a field a couple of towns over from my mom’s house in Connecticut. This tree is absolutely beautiful and helps me relax. It also brings back some wonderful family memories.
- You are given a time machine. You can go back and change one thing from your past. Would you do it? Why or why not? If yes, what would you do differently? Be sure to think of the potential effects it could have on any future events.
I would like to think that I would go back and somehow save my dad from dying, but I don’t know if that would even be possible. However, if I did, then that would change so many things. Even though my life has been pretty tough, I still believe that I’m very lucky. I have a husband that loves me, a mom who is my best friend, and I’m 12 years sober. Despite the fact that I struggle daily with bipolar and PTSD, I’m lucky to have these things in my life. I miss my dad every moment of every day, but it would worry me to change the past because of the effects it could have on the future.
- If you could have any career and there were no obstacles to this, what would it be?
If there were no obstacles and I could have any career, I would be a pharmacist. My grandfather and father were both pharmacists, and my aunt is still a pharmacist. When I was a child, I grew up always dreaming that I would follow in my family’s footsteps. I saw my grandfather, father, and aunt make a huge difference in many people’s lives, and I always dreamed of being like them and doing the same thing when I grew up.
The questions for my nominees are:
- What have you found to be the most surprising or unexpected benefit of blogging and why?
- What positive character trait do you have that you wish you could share with others?
- What is the newest activity or most recent learning experience you have had in your life?
- What aspect of your life would you most like to bring into balance? Why?
- What form(s) of art are you most attracted to or moved by?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world without worry, where would you go? Why?
- What is your favorite saying or quote?
- What individual inspires you the most and why?
- Describe a situation where you reached out to someone and it helped you feel good.
- What brings you the most joy?
- What decision or action has had the most impact on helping you through a bipolar or mental health episode?
There are various statistics, but it seems that more than 50% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder also struggle with addiction in some form, such as drugs or alcohol. When a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder or another mood disorder, and also has a problem with drugs and/or alcohol, it is called dual diagnosis. I was diagnosed with dual diagnosis when I was 14 years old. My drug of choice was crack, but I would do whatever I could find; I also had a problem with alcohol. If anyone is thinking about a rehab, it’s important to research each treatment center you are looking at for yourself or your loved ones to make sure it can properly treat both your mental health disorder and your drug/alcohol addiction.
Dual diagnosis can make it more difficult to treat either disorder, but it’s not impossible. I’ve heard some people say that drugs and alcohol can bring on mental health episodes; and mental health episodes often lead individuals towards drug/alcohol use; both are true based on my own experience.
I know it’s possible to recover from dual diagnosis. I am 11 years sober, which is something I never thought I could say. On April 29, 2004, I went willingly to a yearlong rehab that also helped treat my bipolar disorder, and I have been sober ever since. I even worked there for 9 months after I completed the program. There is always hope, recovery from addiction is always possible. There is no single way to recover from addiction, every person is different. I got sober through the help of a 12 step program. What worked for me may not work for another person.
I feel the same way about treating bipolar disorder. I have tried so many different medications but I have not found the right combination of meds that works for this episode. Even though the meds may have previously worked, or are currently working for many others, it doesn’t mean they will definitely work for me. It’s basically a trial and error situation when treating mental health. That is really hard for me to accept, especially since I’ve been through so many meds. I want a fix, I want to feel better again; I’m not sure how much more patience I have. However, if I could recover from a severe drug and alcohol addiction at 19 years old, then I can hold on to hope for bipolar ‘remission’. I’ve had times in my life when I was not manic, depressed, hypomanic, or mixed. If it’s happened before, it can happen again. Anything is possible.